Monday, March 11, 2013

Public housing amnesty ends this week

Public housing tenants: beware the Ides of March!

 (Public housing tenant Julius Caesar forgot to get protected by the amnesty)

Actually, you've got until Sunday 17 March to disclose any unauthorised additional occupants under the amnesty and get protected from proceedings by Housing NSW for rent arrears, termination or criminal offences.

But this Friday 15 March will be the last business day of the amnesty, and your last opportunity to seek advice on it from your local Tenants Advice and Advocacy Service.

Also see our info on the amnesty, here and here.

3 comments:

  1. I thought you might be interested to know how Housing is following this up.

    A friend of mine was sent a letter during the amnesty advising her that Housing had received an anonymous tip-off regarding an additional occupant. Although she (foolishly, in my opinion) rang them and denied the allegations, on Friday two separate Housing staff visited her asking questions about who lived at the premises and whether anyone living at the premises was working.

    Perhaps most significantly, she was asked to fill in a new rental rebate form and to provide evidence of income for all household members. my gut feeling is that Housing wanted the new rental rebate form completed as evidence that she had failed to declare additional occupants after specifically being asked about them and given opportunities to inform Housing about them.

    She already has to go to the Tribunal regarding rent arrears tomorrow and it would not surprise me if Housing uses the threat of action regarding unauthorised occupants to get her to agree to termination of her tenancy (the Tribunal notice states that they will seek vacant possession even if she pays the arrears or makes an agreement to pay).

    I guess the moral of this story is not to assume that Housing has taken a tenant's denial of allegations regarding additional occupants at face value just because they haven't followed up immediately.

    It appears that when they do follow up they're also asking questions about other issues (eg, who in the household is working) which are not covered by the amnesty, so even if tenants come clean about additional occupants at that point they need to be careful that they aren't giving Housing other grounds to seek termination of the tenancy by failing to properly declare income when they fill in the new rental rebate form.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I meant to ask a question in my post above. Assuming that Housing found no evidence of undeclared income but decided to pursue the undeclared occupant issue, how do they determine the amount owing?

    Do they just decide an arbitrary date on which the undeclared occupant moved in and then charge 25% of that person's income from that date or is there some other method they use to determine the amount owed?

    While I'm not certain there's any chance of my friend salvaging her tenancy at this point, it's obviously in her best interests that should Housing attempt to recover rent for an undeclared occupant the amount they seek to recover is as low as possible.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dear Anonymous,

      If your friend is accused of rental fraud, and attempts are made to impose back-dated rental arrears, please have her contact her local Tenants Advice & Advocacy Service for advice. Their contact and availability details can be found at www.tenants.org.au. Their advice is free.

      Regards,
      N.C.

      Delete

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