Thursday, April 17, 2014

More news on the current HNSW amnesty

Some important news on the current HNSW amnesty on undisclosed income, financial assets and property ownership: it does not apply to changes of income because of an undeclared additional occupant.

To be fair, HNSW does mention this in their fact sheet about the amnesty... sort of.

It says:
"Only reports of undisclosed income and financial assets are protected by this amnesty. No other fraudulent activity is covered and will be investigated in the usual way."
We've heard that a number of tenants have contacted HNSW to tell them about new additions to the household, thinking that the amnesty will apply. This is not surprising, given that HNSW conducted an amnesty on undisclosed additional occupants only about a year ago.

But this is not that amnesty.

Tenants who wish to get their house in order by disclosing additional occupants will be subject to the usual investigation.

Because of the way HNSW's rent setting policy works, it is always a good idea to disclose additional occupants. Having extra people living with you means your household's assessable income will go up, and your rent will go up with it.

But beware: when you do disclose your additional occupant, you'll also have to answer questions about how long they've been living with you, and how much income they bring to the household (whether or not they actually pay you anything.) If they've been living with you for awhile, you might find your rent subsidy is not only altered, but altered as of the date they moved in. By backdating a rent subsidy alteration, large debts can be created on top of the increase in your rent.

In some cases, investigations into 'rent subsidy fraud' can also lead to prosecution.

The current amnesty doesn't apply to such situations. If you're planning to tell HNSW's about an undisclosed additional occupant, at the very least you'll need to think about how you'll manage any resulting debt, as well as the higher rent.

As with all things - if you're not sure, speak to a Tenants' Advocate about your circumstances before calling in to the HNSW amnesty on undisclosed income, financial assets and property ownership.

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