Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Social housing landlords grab carbon payments

Last month pensioners and other recipients of social security payments started receiving the Clean Energy Supplement and, as foreshadowed, Housing NSW has started taking a bit of the supplement (25-30 per cent of it) in rent, by including it in the assessment of public housing tenants' rent rebates.

Housing NSW states its rationale:

Ongoing increases in general income support payments to social housing tenants, such as the carbon tax payments paid to people receiving pensions and allowances, are included as assessable income when social housing rents are calculated.

The NSW Government has included these payments in rent calculations in accordance with the normal rent setting practices.

You can see where Housing NSW has gotten it wrong. The Clean Energy Supplement (in Housing NSW's terms, the 'carbon tax payment') is not a 'general income support payment'. It has a specific purpose – to offset the additional costs of the new carbon pricing system ('the carbon tax').

And including this supplement in rent rebate calculations is not 'in accordance with normal rent setting practices'. Normal practice is to not consider these specific purpose supplements. Normal practice is what happens to the pension supplement paid specifically to offset the costs of the GST – it does not get assessed in the calculation of rent rebates. This has been the case for more than a decade.

It's not just Housing NSW making this unjustified grab. We hear community housing landlords are doing it too – except there's no mention of the Clean Energy Supplement as 'assessable income' under the Community Housing Rent Policy.

Community housing tenants concerned that their landlord has assessed their income wrongly should consider asking for the assessment to be reviewed.



  1. Let's face it, this is what they do best. Sorry but it is true. Tenant gets on feet, tenant gets knocked down. Shame on them. Sickening in my humble opinion.

  2. TENANTS UNION needs to advise EWON of this matter directly on behalf of Tenants. Under the RTA that HNSW and COMM HSNG registrars guidelines purport to act. Is accessing this electricity rebate in reality not a breach under the RTA and quite possibly a
    22000 dollar fine for corporations under the electriity supply act. I REFER to our learned friends at the TU to wade through the semantics of the relevant legalese ... who are these pollies named PETER and PAUL who appear to share the same Centerlink benefits CAN ? Harks of the same Commonwealth Rent Assist that is given to Paul yet then again passed to Peter at Social Housing ... interesting accounting - on paper that is? !

  3. Also - when a tenant chooses NOT to receive Centrelink payments but has no other source of income (ie. living off their savings)... their rent is assessed as if they were receiving the dole/pension. No problem with this - standard policy.
    BUT this same tenant is NOT receiving the Clean Energy Supplement - but HNSW are assessing their rent as if they were entitled to it. Ludicrous!!!

  4. Hi OHS

    Leaving aside for a moment the matter of the Clean Energy Supplement: if Housing NSW ever assesses your rent rebate on the basis of income you do not in fact receive, call your local TAAS for advice on having the assessment reviewed.

  5. Yes 5 bux is your maximum I believe OHS

    PS. Hnsw actually took 50 per cent
    Not 25 to 30 ...


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