Minggu, 20 Januari 2013

Public housing amnesty for unauthorised additional occupants

Do you live in public housing or Aboriginal Housing Office Housing? Do you have someone living with you who Housing NSW doesn't know about?

If you do, you should think about informing Housing NSW under its amnesty for unauthorised additional occupants.

The amnesty runs from today, 21 January, to 17 March 2013. Housing NSW states that 'if you make a report relating to an unauthorised additional occupant residing in your property during the amnesty you will be protected from prosecution and won't have to pay back rent or be worried about being evicted.

Housing NSW will use the information you provide to recalculate your rental rebate according to its policy – so you will pay a higher rent, going forward.

But the amnesty may still be a very good deal, because ordinarily Housing NSW will, upon finding out about an unauthorised additional occupant, cancel your rental rebate, backdate the cancellation to when they reckon the person moved in, adjust your rent account accordingly to create a mountain of arrears (we've seen cases where tenants have been presented with arrears well over $100 000), and then give you a termination notice on the ground of the arrears.

The amnesty could save you a lot of trouble – we urge you to consider it. If you've any questions, please speak to your local Tenants Advice and Advocacy Service.

A few things to note:
  • For the amnesty to apply, the information has to come from you. Housing NSW says if you get dobbed in by someone else, you'll be told and given one opportunity to 'fess up. If you do, you're covered; if you don't, you're not protected and can expect Housing NSW to proceed against you in the usual way.
  • The amnesty relates to unauthorised additional occupants, not other factors in incorrect rental rebates (for example, your own undeclared income).
  • The amnesty is for public housing tenants and Aboriginal Housing Office tenants only; it does not apply to community housing tenants or Aboriginal community housing tenants.
[UPDATE: Check out our updates on the amnesty here.]