Policy Last Amended: 25 October 2012
Under Housing Pathways, the social housing sector, which consists of public, community and Aboriginal housing, aims to provide secure, appropriate and affordable housing opportunities and assistance to all sections of the community with housing needs.
To achieve this aim, there are a range of housing assistance options available, including:
- Private rental assistance products
- Private rental subsidies
- Temporary accommodation
- Emergency temporary accommodation
- Supported and crisis accommodation
- Affordable housing
- Social housing.
The intent of this policy is to outline the various forms of housing assistance available from the social housing sector in NSW. The Social Housing Eligibility and Allocations Policy Supplement provides further information to support this document.
This policy applies to clients applying for various forms of housing assistance, with the exception of supported and crisis accommodation, and affordable housing.
3. Policy statement
The social housing sector provides housing assistance in NSW under Housing Pathways. This means that clients can apply for housing assistance by completing a single application form and lodging it with a social housing provider (‘the provider’), i.e., at Housing NSW offices, or with any participating community housing provider.
Participating providers are responsible for responding to the range of client needs. Where a social housing provider does not deliver a specific housing service, the provider will facilitate the client’s access to another provider for the service required.
Clients cannot apply for the following forms of assistance through Housing Pathways. These include:
- Shorter-term social housing, including crisis accommodation and transitional housing
- Group homes or boarding house arrangements
- Affordable housing
To access any of the housing assistance options provided under Housing Pathways, households must meet the relevant eligibility criteria.
Generally, the social housing provider where the client has lodged an application form will conduct an initial eligibility assessment to determine:
- Whether the client meets the eligibility criteria, and
- The complexity and urgency of the client’s needs, and
- The range of products for which the client may be eligible.
An exception to the above will apply when a social housing tenant applies for a transfer, or a former social housing tenant applies for tenancy reinstatement. In these cases, the social housing provider where the tenant currently lives, or lived, will assess the application.
Following this assessment, the client may choose one or more of the products for which they may be eligible. The social housing provider will then:
- Conduct a more detailed eligibility assessment based on specific eligibility criteria for the relevant product, or
- Facilitate access to the product where they do not provide the product directly. For example, community housing providers do not manage Rentstart products, but they will assist the client to access Rentstart from Housing NSW.
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Housing assistance options
Private rental assistance products
Private rental assistance products help people to access and maintain a tenancy in the private rental market. Private rental assistance products include the following:
Private rental brokerage
Housing NSW provides a private rental brokerage service. This service aims to assist clients by developing and enhancing their capacity to access the private rental market, with the client directing the process as much as possible to build their confidence and skills.
Housing NSW provides tenancy facilitation, which aims to provide people with information about searching and applying for housing in the private rental market. Housing NSW offers this service to people who require limited assistance and who have the capacity to sustain a tenancy, but require additional help and information to navigate the private rental system.
A tenancy guarantee of up to $1500 from Housing NSW is available to landlords/agents to cover rental arrears and/or property damage over and above the rental bond. The tenancy guarantee encourages private sector landlords and agents to rent properties to people who are having difficulty entering the private rental market.
Statements of satisfactory tenancy
Where a tenant or former tenant of Housing NSW has a satisfactory tenancy history, Housing NSW will provide a statement of satisfactory tenancy to assist the client to secure private rental housing when they are leaving, or have left, public housing.
Community housing tenants cannot apply for statements of satisfactory tenancy, but may be eligible for a similar product, if offered by their community housing provider.
The Rentstart scheme is managed by Housing NSW and provides a range of financial assistance for eligible clients to help them set up or maintain a tenancy in the private rental market. The type and level of assistance is based in the client’s individual circumstances and needs. There are four types of Rentstart assistance:
- Rentstart Bond Loan – assistance to establish a tenancy in the private market, which is repayable to Housing NSW.
- Advance Rent – assistance for people experiencing severe financial barriers in accessing private rental accommodation.
- Rentstart Tenancy Assistance – assistance to maintain a private tenancy through help with payment of rental arrears.
- Temporary Accommodation – provides short term accommodation in low cost motels, caravan parks or similar for clients who are homeless.
- Rentstart Move – bond loan assistance for public housing tenants leaving public housing because they are ineligible for a further lease when their current fixed term lease ends.
For more information, see the Private Rental Assistance Policy.
Private rental subsidies
A private rental subsidy contributes to the cost of a client’s weekly rent in private rental accommodation. The amount of rent a client actually pays is similar to the amount they would pay as a tenant of Housing NSW. The subsidy is available from Housing NSW for clients who meet the eligibility criteria and provides a medium-term solution to access affordable accommodation while waiting for a suitable social housing property.
For more information on private rental subsidies, see the Private Rental Assistance Policy.
Emergency temporary accommodation
Emergency temporary accommodation provides housing for up to three months for people who are not eligible for social housing, but who are experiencing a short-term housing crisis.
For more information, see the Eligibility for Social Housing Policy.
Short-term and crisis accommodation
Through a range of programs, some community housing organisations provide specialist, short-term and medium-term housing for people who are homeless, or who are at risk of becoming homeless, and are in crisis. They provide these services in partnership with specialist support agencies that help people to settle into stable accommodation.
For more information on supported housing and crisis accommodation, see the Community Housing Division’s webpage on the Housing NSW website.
Affordable housing is housing for very low to moderate income households in line with the NSW Affordable Housing Guidelines. For more information on affordable housing, see the Centre for Affordable Housing’s webpage on the Housing NSW website.
Social housing provides secure, affordable housing for people with a housing need on low to moderate incomes. Social housing encompasses properties owned or managed by Housing NSW, community housing providers or the Aboriginal Housing Office.
Each provider manages their tenancies and client entitlements in accordance with the Residential Tenancies Act 2010 and their own individual policies. For example, Housing NSW offers all new tenants a fixed term tenancy of two, five or ten years, depending on their circumstances, whereas community housing providers may offer continuous agreements. Community housing providers may ask new tenants for a bond when starting a tenancy, whereas Housing NSW does not.
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Housing NSW manages public housing properties. Housing NSW either owns these properties or leases them from the private rental market.
Community housing providers manage community housing properties. These properties are owned by the government, owned by the provider, or leased from the private rental market. Some providers also manage properties on behalf of other organisations under a fee for service arrangement.
Community housing providers offer general social housing services but are able to respond with specialist help in response to the needs of their tenants and the local community where these arrangements are in place. Community housing providers consist of Housing Associations, whose core business is the management of subsidised rental housing for lower income households, cooperative housing, which is tenant managed housing for people on very low to moderate incomes, and other non government housing providers.
Aboriginal housing is housing owned by the Aboriginal Housing Office. Housing NSW or community housing providers manage Aboriginal housing on behalf of the Aboriginal Housing Office. Housing NSW manages most properties with tenancy conditions similar to those of public housing. Applicants who are Aboriginal or have an Aboriginal person living in their household can apply for Aboriginal Housing. Applicants listed for Aboriginal housing must confirm their Aboriginality. For more information on confirming Aboriginality, go to Aboriginal clients.
For more information on social housing, see the Eligibility for Social Housing Policy.
Choosing a social housing provider
Clients may choose to receive offers of social housing for properties managed by any social housing provider, Housing NSW only, or a community housing provider only. However, in some locations there may only be one social housing provider able to meet a client’s specific housing needs within a reasonable period of time. In this situation, a client may not be able to choose their preferred social housing provider.
What happens if a client is eligible for social housing?
When a client is eligible for social housing, the provider will place them on the NSW housing register. Housing NSW and community housing organisations will then use this register to offer housing when a suitable property is available.
Allocating social housing
When a property becomes available, a social housing provider will house a client according to its own allocation policy.
For properties owned or managed by Housing NSW, clients will be housed on a priority or a wait-turn basis.
Many community housing providers allocate according to an aggregate points system based on a standard assessment of housing need, or through established nominations arrangements such as with providers of specialist support services for clients. Each community housing provider has an allocation policy that is available to the public.
Clients approved for priority assistance, whether by Housing NSW or a community housing provider, will be housed ahead of most other applicants on the NSW housing register. For this reason, they must demonstrate an urgent and ongoing need that they are unable to resolve themselves.
Generally, clients who are not approved for priority assistance will be offered housing in their chosen location when:
- A suitable property becomes available, and
- Other applicants who applied before them have been offered housing.
Waiting times for social housing will vary according to the level of demand, the supply of social housing in the chosen location and the specific housing needs of the client.
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4. Legislation and compliance
Housing NSW and community housing providers are able to provide housing assistance in accordance with the Housing Act 2001.
5. Related documentation
6. Further information
Appeals and review of decisions
If a client disagrees with a decision a social housing provider 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, the client can ask the housing provider for a copy of the fact sheet Appeals and eviewing Decisions, or read the Client Service Delivery and Appeals Policy. This policy applies to applicants for public, community and Aboriginal housing.
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