Comment: Tenancy Bonds for Public Housing


The Tenants' Union was invited to comment on FACS Housing’s Tenancy Bonds for Public Housing Policy and Operational Framework (Draft for consultation). We raised four objections:

  • Given the complexities that must be present for an application for housing assistance to even be considered in New South Wales, the imposition of additional costs at the beginning of a tenancy will only set already vulnerable households on the path to further hardship.
  • The Land and Housing Corporation is not a small-time property investor. In fact, it holds the largest portfolio of residential property in the southern hemisphere, with more than 140,000 tenanted properties. Many of its tenancies are expected to remain on foot for extended periods of time, providing secure and affordable homes for some of the State’s most vulnerable households. It cannot rely on arguments about limited cash flow and adhoc relationships with tenants to support its interest in a rental bonds scheme.
  • FACS Housing’s processes around determining liabilities at the end of tenancies are questionable in many cases. We have provided a number of examples of this from across NSW to FACS Housing in response to its draft policy document. These can be summarised as FACS Housing frequently failing to identify which liabilities at the end of a tenancy can be reasonably passed on to a former tenant, and which are simply the cost of being a landlord in New South Wales. The undertaking to investigate matters such as we have recently brought to FACS Housing’s attention is heartening, but we do not see how it could be either sensible or desirable to proceed with the introduction of bonds for public housing tenancies before each of these serious issues is resolved.
  • We have concerns about the manner in which alleged debts are currently brought to former tenants’ attention, and the impact the introduction of a bonds scheme will have.