What is social housing?
‘Social housing’ is an overarching term that covers both public housing and community housing. Social housing is a type of rental housing provided/managed by government or non-government organisations.
Social housing often adopts policies that are in addition to the criteria of the RT A written law made by parliament. Also called an ‘Act of parliament’, ‘statute’ or legislation.. These polices are designed to regulate and protect the accessibility of financially supported housing.
In October 2017, the Victorian A public official appointed to investigate citizens’ complaints against government departments and statutory authorities. A specialised ombudsman resolves consumer complaints in a particular industry, for example the banking ombudsman for the banking industry. See also statutory authority. published their findings about the ‘investigation into the management of Money paid to a person to financially support them. When a couple has separated both parents have a duty to support their children, and a court can order a parent to make regular payments to support the children. Maintenance for a spouse is now less common, and must be applied for within 12 months of a divorce. It is usually covered in a final settlement of all property. claims against public housing tenants’. The report made broad-ranging observations, numerous recommendations, and called for a cultural shift within public housing. Since then, many policies have been reviewed and amended. Most importantly, having an outstanding Money that is owed by one person or business to another. with the Director of Housing no longer stops a person from being placed on the public housing waiting list or from accepting a public housing property.
Tenants with extensive maintenance debts should seek legal advice (see Chapter 2.4: Legal services that can help).
Housing policies may vary, but they generally serve to regulate the Power to choose whether to do something or not. For example, a judge may have discretion to allow a party extra time to complete a document if it would be unfair to enforce the legal time limit. of the social housing provider. For the purposes of the RT Act, unless clearly stated to the contrary, social housing providers are treated the same as any private landlord.
It is The most important thing, above anything else. An act of paramount force is one that cannot be made subject to another for its operation. to note that VCAT cannot consider policy based decisions, such as a social housing provider deciding to serve no reason Notice to Vacate, unless it could be shown to be retaliatory.
The fact such a decision may be contrary to a social housing’s purpose or constitution is either a matter for internal The review of the decision of a lower court by a higher court. If an appeal is successful, the higher court can change the lower court’s decision., external intervention by an overseeing body such as the Housing The officer in charge of the administrative section of a court, which is known as the registry. See also prothonotary., or in the case of a decision by public authorities such as the Office of Housing, a matter of The court’s review of an administrative decision on the basis of a legal error in the decision-making process. For example, a court can review a decision by an official on the ground that the official is biased. Compare review on the merits. See also administrative act.. With respect to the latter, and similar to appeal, such a decision must have the qualities of an error of law.
Many social housing providers copy the policies adopted by the Director of Housing.
Public housing policies are available online at:
- Housing website: www.housing.vic.gov.au.
- Providers’ website: https://providers.dhhs.vic.gov.au/public-housing-policy-and-practice-manuals.
- Victorian Housing Register website: https://fac.dhhs.vic.gov.au/funded-agency-channel/victorian-housing-register.
It is important to note that according to section 8 of the The right of any person to access documents held by government agencies, except documents excluded by legislation. Act 1982 (Cth), policy documents used for decision-making should be made available for inspection unless an exemption applies. Further, in section 9, if a policy is not made available where it should have been under section 8, then the ability of a public authority to rely on that policy, if not otherwise clearly stated in law, may be unlawful.
For community housing providers, policies are part of the terms of a The agreement between a landlord and a tenant for the rental of a property. agreement. If policies are not provided, parties should look at making an internal formal complaint, and then approaching the Housing Registrar or applying to VCAT.
The most important policy for social housing tenants to understand is the rental rebate policy. You can get this on request from your social housing provider, or for tenants in public housing, find the relevant information on the providers’ website. If your community housing provider does not make the rebate policy readily available, you should complain to the Housing Registrar.
The rental rebate supposes a ‘market rent’. This is the amount the premises would be let at, if there was no subsidy. The total household income is then assessed in accordance with the Director of Housing or relevant rebate policy.
By applying the policy, the rent is then discounted or ‘rebated’. This calculation is usually based on the relevant landlord seeking to ensure that tenant pay no more than a particular percentage of their household income as rent. For details regarding what income is counted as The total of a person’s annual pay and other earnings hat is used to calculate the income tax they must pay. for rebate purposes, parties should refer to policies available on the providers’ website.
It is important for parties to comply with the policy, as certain guests or licensees may be Treated by the law as if something is the case, even if that is not the reality. For example, children may be deemed to have the same home as their parents, whether they actually live there or not. Or a person may be deemed to have given their consent to something if they hear about it and do not object. Compare rebuttable. to be ‘residents’ under the rebate policy for residing in the premises frequently. While they do not become tenants, the policy may count their income as part of the household income, causing the rent to increase.
As matter of practice, the policy can be retrospectively applied, to cause an increase or decrease in rent.
If parties disagree with a particular assessment, they may wish to lodge an internal appeal. If the application of a rebate policy appears in error after an internal appeal, parties should seek legal advice.
It is critical in relation to rent Money owed that is due on a certain date and is late being paid (overdue). matters to ensure the rebate has properly been assessed and is up to date, as this may dictate the validity of a Notice to Vacate for rent arrears.
For more information, see the ‘Rental Rebate’ chapter of the Public Housing Policy and Practice Manual on the providers’ website.
Temporary leave of absence
Generally, if a sole tenant is going to be absent for six weeks or longer, the tenant should let the Office of Housing know in writing, so the landlord doesn’t think the tenant has abandoned or sublet the premises. If a tenant is absent, they should provide up-to-date contact details, or an emergency contact number. In special circumstances, a sole tenant may be eligible for reduced rent for the duration of their absence (up to six months, generally).
During this period, rent is reduced to $15 a week. Recognised reasons that may entitle a A person or organisation directly involved in a court case. Parties include the plaintiff or applicant, the defendant, and any third party added to the action, but not independent witnesses. to reduced rent include being temporarily relocated to a nursing home, rehabilitation, respite or incarceration (remand or sentenced) facility. Tenants should discuss these policies and the relevant documentation with their social housing provider.