Thursday, April 26, 2012

Rentstart bond loans - a few things to keep in mind

A couple of weeks ago we mentioned an anticipated change to Rentstart - the suite of assistance 'products' from Housing Pathways that aims to help social housing clients secure homes in the private rental market (helpful, indeed, if you're waiting approximately 5-10 years for a house, or being kicked out of social housing because you've started a job).

Rentstart helps out with a few extra dollars towards the bond at the start of a tenancy. It's currently provided by way of a grant, and any unclaimed money is returned to the funding pool at the end of the tenancy. Soon, it will be provided by way of a no interest loan, and tenants will have to pay it back - over an agreed period of time, just like any loan - into the funding pool themselves. The plus side of this is that tenants will get the benefit of any refund of the bond when the tenancy is over - after all, once they've paid it back, it's their money. However, as we discussed last time, many landlords are already in the habit of claiming Rentstart money, and some tenants might struggle to hang onto it.

When we discussed this earlier, we didn't know when this change would happen. We'd had some conversations, heard some rumours, and seen the occasional reference to Rentstart bond loans on a couple of updated Housing Pathways application forms... but we were none the wiser about when 'Rentstart Bond Loans' would start.

We can now confirm that this change will take effect on May 1st 2012 - that's next week!

You'll be able to apply for a Rentstart grant right up until April 30th - and we understand that 'live' applications for this type of bond assistance will remain open until May 7th - to allow people in the midst of the process a bit of time to finalise their application, and not miss out on a grant (evidently there's more to this than simply filling out and handing over a form... applicants need to provide various supporting documents as well).

However, any applications received from May 1st onwards will be processed as a Rentstart Bond Loan. So... if you're thinking about applying for bond assistance through the Rentstart scheme, bear this in mind.

Another couple of things to bear in mind: the Tenants' Unions factsheets on bonds and the CTTT, and the contact details of your local Tenants Advice and Advocacy Service. You never know, they might just come in handy.

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