Overview of proposed reforms
The options being considered include:
- reviewing how public housing stock is utilised
- reviewing the current rent policy
- reducing administrative and maintenance costs
- introducing fixed-term tenancies from one to five years, depending on household circumstances
- leveraging the extensive asset base—worth over $15 billion, to facilitate redevelopment and/or additional housing
- getting tougher on those who abuse social housing assistance
- creating a stronger role for non-government housing providers
- addressing under-occupancy of social housing
- identifying undeclared household members.
Logan Renewal Initiative
The Queensland Government and Logan City Council started the Logan Renewal Initiative to help renew social housing in Logan and meet the growing community’s need for affordable housing to rent or buy.
This initiative aims to:
- transfer the management of tenancies and properties to an experienced, non-government housing organisation
- renew and revitalise older neighbourhoods with lots of social housing to create mixed communities that improve social cohesion
- develop new affordable homes for people on low to medium incomes
- give local businesses the chance to be part of housing renewal in Logan
engage the local community in carrying out the plan.
In September 2012, the Department of Housing and Public Works commenced a two-stage process to find a suitable organisation to work with the government and council to renew social housing in Logan.
In stage one, expressions of interest were received from a diverse mix of organisations in Queensland and other states. Three proponents were selected to move to the next stage, which involves giving a detailed proposal of how they would carry out the plan.
Each group includes for-profit and not-for-profit organisations, and at least one registered and experienced social housing provider. The short-listed proponents are:
Horizon Housing Company Ltd
Living Logan Limited consortium, comprising Churches of Christ in Queensland, Mangrove Housing Association Inc, Community Housing Limited, and The National Affordable Housing Consortium.
Logan City Community Housing Ltd consortium, comprising Compass Housing Services Co. Ltd (as lead proponent) and BlueCHP (as participant)
The successful proponent will work closely with existing housing and support agencies to provide ongoing services to tenants.
The procurement process will be completed in the second half of 2013. A proponent will be expected to deliver up to 200 homes over the next three years.
Information for tenants
A factsheet is available with information for current social housing tenants.
Managing anti-social behaviour
The department treats all instances of anti-social behaviour by public housing tenants seriously. Each complaint is investigated and the appropriate action taken to ensure tenants meet their obligations.
The Queensland Government recognises that the majority of public housing tenants are good neighbours, who meet their tenancy obligations and contribute to the peace and well-being of their local community. However, there is a small number of tenants whose continued anti-social behaviour disturbs the peace and safety of neighbourhoods. The Queensland Government will not tolerate this behaviour and has introduced the Anti-social behaviour policy for public housing to help manage these issues.
This new policy is part of the Government’s plan to improve public housing. The Government provides a scarce and valuable service through public housing and expects tenants to respect the properties, and communities they live in, and meet their obligations under their tenancy agreements. The department responds quickly and appropriately to instances of unacceptable behaviour such as noisy parties, vandalism or destroying property.
The department has reviewed its tenancy management approach and developed a new framework for managing anti-social behaviour. The policy aims to balance the needs and rights of other tenants, private owners and the broader community with the need to support tenants to sustain their public housing tenancies.
The policy will make it clear to tenants what is and is not acceptable behaviour. Tenants will be advised if their behaviour is putting their tenancy at risk and given the chance to change their behaviour.
If tenants engage in unacceptable behaviour, and receive three strikes within a 12 month period, the department will take action to end their tenancies. If their behaviour is considered to be dangerous or severe, the department will take immediate action to end the existing tenancy.
The department will take action to end tenancies if tenants do not change their behaviour and continue to disrupt the community and damage public housing. The department will no longer tolerate continued poor behaviour, especially when so many thousands of people are in need of housing assistance.
Under the existing policy, the department can and will continue to take immediate legal action to evict tenants who engage in dangerous and illegal types of anti-social behaviour including assault, acts of violence or drug manufacture at their public housing property.
The new policy will be introduced from July 2013.
A factsheet is available with questions and answers about the Anti-social behaviour policy.
An under-occupied public housing property is one where there are two or more bedrooms in excess of the needs of the household. The Department of Housing and Public Works recently changed the under-occupancy policy to focus on households that are under-occupying their properties by two or more bedrooms.
The department owns a very limited number of four-bedroom public housing properties which are in high demand. The under-occupancy policy requires tenants to demonstrate whether their household has a continued need for the four-bedroom property they live in.
Households that are assessed as no longer needing four-bedrooms will be provided with two options:
- transfer to another social housing property which meets their current bedroom entitlements and housing needs, or
- pay a higher rent to remain in the under-occupied property (30% of the household’s assessable income instead of the current 25%, as per the department’s rent policy).
For those households that choose to transfer, the department will cover all reasonable costs associated with the move.
Households can request a review to assess if they can demonstrate a continued need for the under-occupied property. Each case will be considered individually, and assessed against the approved grounds under the policy.
Households that demonstrate a continued need for the under-occupied property will be eligible to remain in the property and will not have to transfer or pay a higher rent.
Households living in under-occupied properties will continue to be regularly reviewed, as their needs and circumstances may change. In addition, the department’s need for the property in the future may also change.
Given the increased need for social housing, the Queensland Government is forced to take a tough stance on those who abuse the system. Action will be taken to ensure all householders earning an income contribute to the rent for the dwelling they live in.
In June 2012, the government introduced an amnesty for social housing tenants who had undeclared household members living with them. The amnesty allowed tenants to notify the Department of Housing and Public Works of any undeclared household member living in their social housing property, without any penalty.
The amnesty period has now ended, with more than 1600 household members being added to tenancies.
If tenants did not declare additional household members, two things may happen:
- Undeclared household members will not be considered when the department reviews under-occupancy, or any transfer to a smaller property, meaning they will have nowhere to live.
- Tenants housing undeclared household members may be required to pay rent back at 25% of their household income.
The following materials provide more information on the new social housing reforms.
- Anti-social behaviour policy Anti-social behaviour policy - questions and answers about the new policy.
- Logan Renewal Initiaitive Logan Renewal Initiaitive - information for social housing tenants
- Social housing - Factors affecting sustainable delivery in Queensland Social housing - Factors affecting sustainable delivery in Queensland - this booklet outlines the statistics currently impacting social housing delivery.
- Reforming housing assistance Reforming housing assistance – this factsheet provides questions and answers on the proposed reforms to social housing.
- New household member form New household member form – the form to declare a new household member.
For more information, please visit your nearest Housing Service Centre.