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Managing the NSW Housing Register Policy

Policy Last Amended: 09 September 2012

 

1. Background

When a social housing provider approves a client for social housing or transfer, the provider will place the client on the NSW Housing Register. Housing NSW and community housing organisations participating in Housing Pathways will then use this register to offer housing when a suitable property becomes available.

 

Due to high demand and limited stock, it may take some time for suitable accommodation to become available. During this time, Housing NSW and community housing providers participating in Housing Pathways have a responsibility to help maintain an up-to-date NSW Housing Register to ensure that they can efficiently allocate housing.

 

Under Housing Pathways, Housing NSW has overarching responsibility for the operation and maintenance of the NSW Housing Register.

 

It is a client’s responsibility to:

  • provide up to date contact details and accurate information to Housing NSW or a community housing provider participating in Housing Pathways, and
  • respond to requests relating to their application from Housing NSW or a community housing provider participating in Housing Pathways.

If a client waiting for social housing or a transfer does not provide this information, or does not respond to requests for information relating to their application, then their application may be closed and their name removed from the NSW Housing Register.

 

It is important for clients to be aware of these responsibilities, because when the information held about an applicant’s circumstances is not up-to-date, any offers of housing may be unsuitable, and further delays may occur while a provider locates suitable housing. Additionally, it is important because in some cases there is a possibility that a change in location may shorten the waiting time for housing.

 

The intent of this policy is to explain a client’s responsibility for ensuring their information is up-to-date, and the way in which social housing providers will contribute to the management of the NSW Housing Register, including updating and reviewing a client’s details as required. The Social Housing Eligibility and Allocations Policy Supplement provides further information to support this document.

 

2. Scope

This policy applies to all clients on the NSW Housing Register and all participating social housing providers who contribute to the management of the NSW Housing Register.

 

3. Policy statement

Clients must continue to meet the social housing or transfer eligibility criteria in order to remain on the NSW Housing Register. If a client no longer meets the eligibility criteria, Housing NSW or community housing providers participating in Housing Pathways will remove their name from the NSW Housing Register. In most cases this will mean that the client’s previous waiting time will not apply if they later re-apply for social housing or a transfer.

 

A client must also respond to letters or phone calls from Housing NSW or a community housing provider participating in Housing Pathways when requested to do so. 

 

If a client waiting for social housing fails to respond to a documented request to either contact a housing provider or confirm their continued interest in waiting for social housing, Housing NSW or a community housing provider participating in Housing Pathways may remove their name from the Register.  In these cases, if the client has their name removed from the Register, their application is closed and any time already waited on the NSW Housing Register will not be counted if the client re-applies for housing assistance at any time in the future.

 

Housing NSW will monitor the NSW Housing Register and work with community housing providers participating in Housing Pathways to ensure that vulnerable clients receive a suitable offer of housing.

 

For more information on social housing or transfer eligibility, see the Eligibility for Social Housing Policy.

How the NSW Housing Register is managed

Structure of the NSW Housing Register

The NSW Housing Register is a single list of approved clients waiting for social housing. The NSW Housing Register lists clients in order according to their required housing location, their approval category and approval date. Generally, social housing providers will house clients in the following order:

  • Clients approved for Emergency Temporary Accommodation;
  • Clients approved for priority status on the NSW Housing Register and clients approved for transfers or relocations on the grounds of under-occupancy;
  • Elderly clients (clients who are aged 80 and over, or 55 and over if Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander);
  • Clients approved for a transfer on a priority basis, or clients being relocated for management purposes;
  • Clients approved for wait turn housing and wait turn transfer.

Changes to a client’s circumstances

Social housing applicants are responsible for making sure that Housing NSW or a community housing provider participating in Housing Pathways has up to date information about their situation.

 

Clients must tell Housing NSW or a community housing provider participating in Housing Pathways of any changes to their household circumstances within 28 days. These changes may be:

  • A change of address or contact phone number;
  • A change in income for any member of the household;
  • The birth of a child;
  • A change in the number of people in the household;
  • A change in the client’s preferred area or housing provider;
  • A change of name;
  • Factors affecting the type of property and location required, such as a medical condition or disability;
  • A change in property ownership or assets.

When new information is provided to Housing NSW or a community housing provider participating in Housing Pathways, the information will be assessed to determine if a reassessment of the client’s application is required, or if a change can be made to the client’s record without a re-assessment of the application.

 

Re-assessment is required if the client’s circumstances have changed in a way that may affect their eligibility for social housing or other housing assistance. In some cases, applicants may need to attend an interview as part of the re-assessment process. Housing NSW and community housing providers participating in Housing Pathways will advise clients in writing of the outcome of their re-assessment.

 

If a client is no longer eligible for social housing or transfer, their application will be closed.

 

Annual Housing Eligibility Review

 

Housing NSW on behalf of all Housing Pathways providers, contacts clients waiting for social housing every 12 months to make sure their contact details are correct and to ask if they wish to remain on the NSW Housing Register. Housing NSW does this by sending a Housing Eligibility Review Postcard to the client.

 

If a client does not respond to the Housing Eligibility Review Postcard, their application will be closed and their name will be taken off the NSW Housing Register. If this happens the applicant must submit a new application to be re-listed on the NSW Housing Register and will lose their previous waiting time.

 

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Clients overseas or interstate

Clients who are overseas or interstate for up to six months can stay on the NSW Housing Register, provided they still meet the eligibility criteria and are not living in social housing in another State or Territory within Australia.

 

Clients who are overseas or interstate for more than six months, but less than 12 months, may maintain their place on the NSW Housing Register in unusual or exceptional circumstances. These circumstances are based on compassionate grounds, such as:

  • Illness or death of a close family member;
  • Outstanding legal matters including sale of home or assets;
  • Inability to return because of civil unrest or war (overseas only);
  • Specialised medical treatment (overseas only);
  • Educational scholarships (overseas only);
  • Severe medical problems that prevent the client from returning to New South Wales.

The client must provide documentation to establish:

  • The length of time they were overseas or interstate;
  • The reasons for their stay;
  • Accommodation arrangements;
  • Their source of income while away.

Housing NSW or the community housing provider participating in Housing Pathways will consider these factors when making a decision about the client’s continued eligibility for social housing.

 

Clients who remain on the NSW Housing Register while they are overseas or interstate are expected to provide up-to-date contact information, and respond to letters or phone calls from Housing NSW or a community housing provider participating in Housing Pathways in order to keep their application active.

Unsatisfactory behaviour of clients

Clients or members of their household may become ineligible if at any time they:

  • Seriously threaten or abuse social housing staff, or
  • Intentionally engage in conduct that objectively causes social housing staff to feel intimidated or harassed.

Housing NSW or the community housing provider participating in Housing Pathways will warn a client that they may not consider the client’s application for housing if the behaviour continues. The provider will record incidents of serious and inappropriate behaviour on the client’s file.

 

The provider must be satisfied that the client will not repeat the behaviour before making any decision about the client’s continued eligibility. For more information, see the Client Service Delivery and Appeals Policy.

 

Closing an application

 

Housing NSW or a community housing provider participating in Housing Pathways  may close applications for social housing or transfer for the following reasons:

  • At the client’s written request;
  • When the client is housed, or in the case of a transfer, the applicant is rehoused, by Housing NSW or a community housing provider participating in Housing Pathways;
  • When the client is ineligible for admittance to the NSW Housing Register;
  • When a client on the NSW Housing Register has become ineligible to remain on the NSW Housing Register;
  • When a client has directly rejected, or rejected by non-response, their allocated number of reasonable offers of housing;
  • When a client waiting for social housing does not respond to the Annual Housing Eligibility Review postcard;
  • When a client does not respond to contact relating to their application as requested;  
  • Following a review of a suspended (non-active) application, where:
    • The client has previously seriously threatened or abused social housing staff, or intentionally engaged in conduct that objectively caused social housing staff to feel intimidated or harassed, and
    • The client has not demonstrated a change in those behaviours.

When an application is closed, a client may request to be re-listed on the NSW Housing Register. In this case the client will need to submit a new Application for Housing Assistance form and their waiting time will commence from the new application date.

 

A closed application for social housing can be reactivated if the client meets the criteria for reactivation. If reactivation of the client’s application is approved, in most cases, their waiting time will be reinstated back to the registration date of their closed application.

Reactivating a closed application for social housing

There are some situations where Housing NSW and community housing providers participating in Housing Pathways may agree to reactivate a closed application for social housing and start the client’s waiting time from the registration date of the closed application. The client must meet the following criteria for reactivation:

  1. The application was closed in error; or
  2. The client’s application was closed because their household income was over the social housing eligibility limits at a point in time, but the household income did not continuously exceed the eligibility limits for more than 12 months; or
  3. The application was closed because the client did not respond to the annual Housing Eligibility Review Postcard, or other documented request to contact Housing NSW or a community housing provider participating in Housing Pathways to either:
      • Confirm their continued interest in remaining on the NSW Housing Register; or
      • Provide information necessary to complete a housing assistance assessment,

and the client can demonstrate an exemption should apply.

 

The exemptions are:

      • The applicant was in hospital, respite care, a disability support facility or rehabilitations facility or other institution;
      • The applicant is homeless and was unable to access their mail during the 28 day period;
      • The applicant was unable to access their mail during the 28 day period due to escaping domestic or family violence or a family break up;
      • The applicant was away for 28 days or more due to family bereavement or family care;
      • The applicant was in custody at the time contact was attempted.

If a client requests that their closed application be reactivated, they must provide evidence to support their request. See Table 1 – Evidence requirements for reactivation of a closed application. 

 

If the client is able to support their request, their application will be reactivated without needing to fill out a new Application for Housing Assistance form to demonstrate that they still meet social housing eligibility criteria. In this case, the client will retain their waiting time from the registration date of the closed application. However, if a client advises their circumstances have changed, and that change indicates the clients housing needs have changed since the application was closed, this change may require re-assessment.

 

Evidence requirements for the reactivation of a closed application

 

Table 1 – Evidence requirements for the reactivation of a closed application

Exemption

Situation

Evidence Requirements

Closed in Error

The application was closed in error.

This includes situations where:

  • The correspondence was not addressed to the address provided by the client;
  • The correspondence not delivered by Australia Post; or
  • The client receives assistance from the NSW Trustee and Guardian as the legally appointed financial manager, the NSW Public Guardian, a legally appointed private guardian or financial manager, and the application was closed without contact with the relevant financial manager or guardian. 
  • Housing Pathways client and computer records;
  • Any information provided by the client that confirms the error, for example copies of correspondence, papers setting out legally appointed guardian or financial manager arrangements
  • Advice from the NSW Trustee and Guardian as the appointed financial manager;
  • Advice from the NSW Public Guardian;
  • Advice from a legally appointed private guardian;
  • Advice from a legally appointed private financial manager.

Income Eligibility

The client’s household income was over the eligibility threshold at a point in time, but not for a twelve month period.

  • Proof of income for all members of the household over 18 years of age for the 12 month period.

Non-Response  to Contact

The client was in hospital, respite care, a disability support facility or rehabilitation facility or other institution.

  • Letter from the medical facility, medical practitioner or health professional, including a specialist, psychiatrist or counsellor, community nurse, occupational therapist or physiotherapist, or social worker, confirming the admission date and date of discharge;
  • Letter from support agencies such as Home & Community Care Program, Home Nursing Service, Aged Care Assessment Team or NSW Service for the Treatment and Rehabilitation of Torture and Trauma Survivors (STARTTS);
  • A letter from an employer confirming the dates the applicant was absent from work due to their stay in a medical facility due to illness/incapacity.
  • Advice from the NSW Trustee and Guardian as the appointed financial manager;
  • Advice from the NSW Public Guardian;
  • Advice from a legally appointed private guardian;
  • Advice from a legally appointed private financial manager.

Non-Response  to Contact

The client was homeless and was unable to access their mail during the 28 day period.

  • Confirmation from Community Services Division within the Department of Family and Community Services.
  • Notice of Termination or Warrant of Possession;
  • Confirmation from Aboriginal community elders or from an Aboriginal support service;
  • Supporting documents from a refuge, crisis or emergency or other supported accommodation provider;
  • Letter from a juvenile detention centre, gaol or probation and parole;
  • Confirmation from the Homeless Persons Information Centre or a homeless persons support service;
  • Letter from support service or advocate;
  • Advice from the NSW Trustee and Guardian as the appointed financial manager;
  • Advice from the NSW Public Guardian;
  • Advice from a legally appointed private guardian;
  • Advice from a legally appointed private financial manager.

Non-Response  to Contact

The client was unable to access their mail during the 28 day period due to escaping domestic or family violence or a family break up.

  • Letters or reports from a doctor, health professional, social worker, migrant resource service, a recognised domestic violence service or other support agency worker;
  • Police reports or statements or current Apprehended Violence order;
  • Request(s) for assistance from the Department of Human Services – Community Services;
  • Notices from court or a letter from a solicitor;
  • A Medical Assessment form completed by a health professional;
  • Current reports or letters from a support agency such as a community centre or neighbourhood centre;
  • Letter from a refuge, crisis or emergency or other supported accommodation provider;
  • Letter from a specialist, counsellor or psychiatrist;
  • Letter from a local Staying Home Leaving Violence worker;
  • Statutory declaration from a person who is aware of the client’s circumstances such as a neighbour or family member;
  • Advice from the NSW Trustee and Guardian as the appointed financial manager;
  • Advice from the NSW Public Guardian;
  • Advice from a legally appointed private guardian;
  • Advice from a legally appointed private financial manager.

Non-Response  to Contact

The client was away for 28 days or more due to family bereavement or family care.

Absence due to Family Bereavement

  • Death certificate or death notice;
  • Invoices showing funeral expenses;
  • Letter from a health professional, support worker or advocate(s) or member of the clergy confirming death of a family member; 
  • Confirmation from Aboriginal community elders or from an Aboriginal support service;
  • Statutory Declaration from a family member confirming death of a family member;
  • Advice from the NSW Trustee and Guardian as the appointed financial manager;
  • Advice from the NSW Public Guardian;
  • Advice from a legally appointed private guardian;
  • Advice from a legally appointed private financial manager.

Absence due to Family Care

  • Letter from a health professional or support worker confirming the period the client was absent to provide care for a relative;
  • Statutory declaration detailing the period of care from the family member  for whom you provided care;
  • Statutory declaration from another family member or friend confirming the period the client was absent to provide care for a relative;
  • Advice from the NSW Trustee and Guardian as the appointed financial manager;
  • Advice from the NSW Public Guardian;
  • Advice from a legally appointed private guardian;
  • Advice from a legally appointed private financial manager.

Non-Response  to Contact

The client was in custody at the time contact was attempted.

  • Letter from a juvenile detention centre, gaol or probation and parole confirming the date of reception and release date;
  • Letter from a Centrelink Social Worker confirming that the client was in custody during the response period;
  • Advice from the NSW Trustee and Guardian as the appointed financial manager;
  • Advice from the NSW Public Guardian;
  • Advice from a legally appointed private guardian;
  • Advice from a legally appointed private financial manager.

Situations where past waiting time will not be considered

Housing NSW and community housing providers participating in Housing Pathways will not consider past waiting time when placing a client’s application on the NSW Housing Register if the client:

  • Was living in public housing in another state;
  • Had their application closed because they directly rejected, or rejected by non-response, their allocated number of reasonable offers of housing;
  • Had their application closed because they did not respond to attempts by Housing NSW or community housing providers participating in Housing Pathways to contact them, or did not confirm their interest in continuing to wait for social housing, and they do not meet the criteria for reactivation of their application.
  • Has previously been assisted with Rentstart but did not submit an application for social housing at that time;
  • Had their application closed because they:
    • Seriously threatened or abused Housing NSW or community housing provider staff;
    • Intentionally engaged in conduct that objectively caused Housing NSW or community housing staff to feel intimidated or harassed.

Household members who apply for social housing in their own name

 

In a situation where a client who is listed as a household member on another social housing application applies for social housing in their own name, Housing Pathways providers will take into account the time the client has already waited on the NSW Housing Register. 

Reviewing outstanding debts from a former social housing tenancy

Housing NSW and community housing providers participating in Housing Pathways will review a client’s repayment history prior to making any offer of housing. Where a client:

  • Owes less than $500 to a provider relating to a former tenancy and has not maintained repayment arrangements, a provider will not make an offer of housing.
  • Owes more than $500 to a provider relating to a former tenancy and has not maintained repayment arrangements, a provider will remove the client’s name from the NSW Housing Register.

For information on how to make a repayment arrangement, the client should contact the provider to whom the debt for the previous tenancy is owed.

 

Senior managers of the client’s previous housing provider and the provider that is considering the current application may jointly decide, at their absolute discretion, to waive the requirements for repayment of outstanding debts when considering the client for an offer of social housing. The decision to waive these requirements is made on a case-by-case basis based on the individual circumstances of the client.

Suspending an application

Housing NSW or a community housing provider participating in Housing Pathways  may suspend (make non-active) an application for social housing or transfer for the following reasons:

  • Pending receipt of further information or proof of social housing eligibility or housing requirements.
  • If a client is temporarily unable to accept an offer of accommodation because of:
    • Being currently in prison;
    • Illness, hospitalisation or holidays;
    • Caring for a family member.
  • Pending receipt of reasons from the client for rejecting an offer of accommodation in order to determine whether to classify the rejection as a rejection or a withdrawal.
  • At a client’s written request.
  • If a client has a debt from a former social housing tenancy of more than $500.
  • If the client has seriously threatened or abused Housing NSW or community  housing staff, or intentionally engaged in conduct that objectively caused social housing staff to feel intimidated or harassed.
  • If the client applying for a transfer has rental arrears, nuisance and annoyance breaches or any other tenancy breaches that are currently under investigation.

Housing Pathways providers will regularly review suspended applications.

Reviewing priority status approved clients

Housing NSW and community housing providers participating in Housing Pathways regularly review applications for client’s approved for priority status on the NSW Housing Register or approved for priority transfer, to ensure the client’s circumstances continue to reflect their priority status on the Register.

 

Following a review, the priority status of an application may be changed to reflect any differences in the level of urgency of the client’s circumstances. A client’s application will be closed if the client no longer meets the eligibility requirements.

Assisting clients on the NSW Housing Register who have priority needs

To assist in meeting priority needs in a timely manner, Housing NSW and community housing providers participating in Housing Pathways may consider a range of housing strategies including:

  • Providing, or facilitating access to, a private rental subsidy to eligible applicants. For more information, see the Private Rental Assistance Policy;
  • Renting a property from the private rental market (headleasing);
  • Modifying an existing dwelling to make it suitable for a person with a disability;
  • Developing, with the consent and involvement of the client, an individual support plan with an appropriate support provider where a client has unmet special care needs, which may pose a barrier to accessing mainstream housing;
  • Providing, or facilitating access to, Rentstart assistance to eligible clients so that they can maintain or establish a private rental tenancy while they are waiting for a suitable social housing property to become available. For more information, see the Rentstart Assistance Policy.

Monitoring vulnerable clients

Under Housing Pathways, some vulnerable clients on the NSW Housing Register might frequently miss out on being allocated a property due to a combination of factors related to the client, the suitability and availability of housing and the constraints of the Housing Pathways system. Clients who are considered vulnerable include:

  • Clients on the NSW Housing Register who require urgent housing but do not receive it;
  • Clients that are difficult to house due to highly specific preferences or limited housing options;
  • Clients that are regularly by-passed for a range of reasons.

Housing NSW and community housing providers participating in Housing Pathways will monitor the NSW Housing Register to identify vulnerable clients and engage in joint planning and responses for ensuring that these clients are housed appropriately.

NSW Housing Register waiting time

The time that a client will wait on the NSW Housing Register depends on:

  • The number of vacancies;
  • The supply of social housing in the area, including the number of housing providers;
  • The number of people waiting for the same type of housing in the same area who have been waiting longer;
  • Willingness to accept offers of both public and community housing;
  • The number of people who have demonstrated a high need to be housed;
  • The number of applicants leaving the NSW Housing Register.

Clients may change their preference to an area with a shorter waiting time, or change their provider preference, at any time prior to a housing provider making an offer of housing.

 

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4. Legislation and compliance

Housing NSW and community housing providers participating in Housing Pathways are able to provide housing assistance in accordance with the Housing Act 2001.

 

There is a fine of $2,200 and a possible gaol term for clients who make a false statement or representation. In addition, their name may be removed from the NSW Housing Register.

 

5. Related documentation

6. Further information

Appeals and review of decisions

If a client disagrees with a decision Housing NSW or a community housing provider participating in Housing Pathways has made, they should first discuss their concerns with a staff member from the provider that made the decision. The next step, if they still believe the social housing provider made the wrong decision, is to ask for a formal review of the decision.

 

For information on how reviews work for decisions made by Housing NSW, the client can ask for a copy of the fact sheet Appeals and Reviewing Decisions, or read the Client Service Delivery and Appeals Policy. This policy applies to public and Aboriginal housing. Individual community housing providers participating in Housing Pathways have their own appeal policies, and the client should request information directly from that provider.  The provider who made the decision will manage the review or appeal.

 

A client cannot appeal about:

  • The length of time they have waited or may have to wait for housing;
  • The availability or lack of accommodation in any area;
  • An indication of the likely length of lease they may be offered if housed in public housing;
  • A decision to house someone ahead of them on a priority basis.

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Last modified: Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Housing Pathways © 2014
Date last modified: Tuesday, 15 April 2014