In October 2016 the Government announced the transfer of tenancy management for thousands of tenanted public housing properties from the Department of Family and Community Services (FACS Housing) to registered Community Housing Providers (CHPs). Expressions of interest were called for, and CHPs invited to tender for contracts.
The successful tenders have recently been announced, with around 14,000 properties to be transferred to nine CHPs across a number of regions. For more details, visit the Social Housing Management Transfer website at facs.nsw.gov.au/reforms/social-housing/management-transfer-program
Tenants affected are in these areas:
- Maitland and Port Stephens – to Hume Community Housing
- Singleton, Cessnock, Dungog, Mid-Coast, Musswellbrook, Upper Hunter – to Compass Housing
- Gunnedah, Tamworth, Walcha, Liverpool Plains, Armidale Regional, Glen Innes, Gwydir, Guyra, Inverell, Moree Plains, Narribri, Tenterfield, Uralla – to Homes North
- Shoalhaven – to Southern Cross Community Housing
- Coffs Harbour, Bellingen – to Mission Australia Housing
- Nambucca, Kempsey, Port Macquarie-Hastings – to Community Housing Limited
- Ryde, Hornsby, Ku-ring-gai – to Link Housing
- Northern Beaches and Mosman – to Bridge Housing
- North Sydney, Hunters Hill, Lane Cove, Willoughby – to St George Community Housing
How will this affect you?
If you live in one of the properties to be transferred:
- You will not need to move out of your home.
- Your landlord will no longer be FACS Housing. Instead you will pay your rent to a Community Housing Provider (CHP), and deal with the provider for all tenancy management issues.
- You will not be required to sign a new agreement and the conditions of your lease will remain the same after transfer.
- You will not have a choice about the transfer.
FACS Housing have said they will get in contact with you to let you know who the CHP is for your area. They will introduce you to the provider and invite you to a meeting with them.
Rent and other charges
Initially you should not see any changes to your income after rent and water charges when your tenancy is transferred.
At the point of transfer the CHP will continue to calculate your rent in the same way as FACS Housing, however there will be one key difference. After the transfer you may become eligible for Commonwealth Rent Assistance (CRA) as a tenant of a CHP. CRA is a Commonwealth rent supplement, and you will need to apply for CRA from Centrelink when your tenancy is transferred. If eligible, you will need to pay the full amount of any CRA you receive to the CHP as part of your rent. Your rental subsidy will be calculated to ensure you do not pay more than you already do, before the CRA gets added.
The CHP will be able to apply their policies for calculating rent and water charges when:
- Your income changes
- 12 months from when FACS Housing last assessed your subsidy, or
- Your current agreement’s fixed term ends and you sign a new lease with the new CHP
This may result in a small change to the amount you pay in rent and water charges.
If you are currently required to pay a vacant bedroom charge you will continue to have to pay this.
If you have concerns about changes to your rent or other charges arising from a transfer to Community Housing call your local Tenants’ Advice Service.
Repairs and maintenance
You will continue to call the Maintenance Line on 1800 422 322 to report any repairs and maintenance issues. If the problem gets worse or you have not had any response in the initial agreed timeframe you should get back in touch with the Maintenance Line. If you continue to have problems getting repairs or maintenance done you should contact your new CHP directly to follow up on the issue. If you require legal advice or assistance regarding a repair call your local Tenants’ Advice Service.
If you are allowed to have pets under your current agreement, you will continue to be allowed to have suitable pets after the transfer.
Complaints and dispute resolution
After the transfer, you will continue to be covered by the Residential Tenancies Act 2010 and are able to make an application to the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal if you are unable to resolve a dispute about your tenancy. Get advice from your local Tenants’ Advice Service first.
If you are unhappy with a decision relating to a policy (for example around rent calculation) that the CHP makes you can appeal the decision. You will first need to make an ‘internal appeal’ with your CHP according to their complaints or appeal procedures.
If you are unhappy with the outcome you can then appeal this decision to the Housing Appeals Committee (HAC). This Committee is an independent agency who can review decisions of social housing providers for tenants – hac.nsw.gov.au.
For more info or advice on transfers or Community Housing Provider tenancy management, call your local Tenants’ Advice and Advocacy Service.
For more discussion of this transfer of tenancy management, see the article Making sense of social housing in NSW on the TU Blog.