Applicants for public housing need to meet a number of income and asset limits to firstly be eligible, then to remain on the waiting list and subsequently to remain in public housing.
The time an applicant waits for public housing is influenced by several factors: the area in which housing is being sought, the turnover of properties in that region, the type of accommodation and number of bedrooms required, and the number of people ahead of the applicant on the waiting list.
The priority waiting list
An applicant with no viable housing options, and an urgent housing need which cannot be met by waiting for an offer of accommodation through the usual ‘wait turn’ process, may apply for priority listing. This means they will be offered accommodation as soon as possible, depending upon their specific situation.
Factors that may make an applicant eligible for the priority waiting list include - but are not limited to - medical conditions, escaping from domestic violence, child abuse or harassment, homelessness and child care related issues.
Priority listed applicants must still wait until a suitable property becomes available. Every applicant on the priority waiting list has demonstrated an urgent need, and Housing is unable to further prioritise them.
At 30 June 2017, the waiting list had 16,516 public housing wait-turn applicants, of which 1,590 are public housing priority applications.
The average wait time for public housing priority listed applicants at 30 June 2017 was 54 weeks (median 29 weeks).
In June 2017, 428 public housing wait-turn and priority applications were housed (excluding transfers), bringing the total number of public housing wait-turn and priority applications housed between 1 July 2016 and 31 June 2017 to 3,724.
Applicants on the general wait list are typically not homeless, nor at risk of homelessness. They are usually in private rentals, shared housing or living with other family members.
At any time, a small percentage of the more than 36,000 properties managed by Housing will be vacant, and this can be for a number of reasons. Properties may be undergoing repairs or maintenance prior to new occupants moving in, being readied for sale or prepared for demolition as part of a redevelopment.
As the State’s biggest landlord, Housing manages more than 36,000 public housing properties as well as housing for government and community employees around the State, which takes the total number of properties managed to more than 41,500. The Housing Authority issues between 12,000 and 14,000 work orders for maintenance jobs every month: an average of 470 work orders a day.
All maintenance tasks are prioritised into one of four categories:
||No power, faulty smoke alarm or smell of gas|
||No hot water, blocked toilets or burst water pipes|
||Faulty stove, leaking taps or security lights not working|
The majority of maintenance requests are completed on time. However, given the high number of requests, there are inevitably times when jobs are not completed as quickly as Housing, and the tenant, would like.
There are various reasons for this. A common one is that a contractor will attend a property, but the tenant is not at home despite being informed that a tradesperson is coming and agreeing to arrangements.
Social housing rental properties are inspected annually and more regularly if deemed necessary. As a landlord, Housing is required under the Residential Tenancies Act to provide to tenants a minimum of seven days’ written notice and maximum of 14 days’ written notice of an inspection.
The Disruptive Behaviour Management Strategy
Housing’s Disruptive Behaviour Management Strategy (DBMS) provides an appropriate balance between supporting tenants and protecting their neighbours and the wider community from unreasonable and illegal behaviour.
Each complaint is investigated and if a complaint is substantiated it can result in a ‘strike’.
If a strike is issued for:
- dangerous behaviour (for example, assault, arson, the manufacture of drugs);
- activities that pose a demonstrable risk to the safety or security of residents or property;
- activities that have resulted in injury to a person in the immediate vicinity with subsequent Police charges or conviction;
- Housing will take immediate action to evict those responsible.
If the strike is for serious behaviour - including vandalism to neighbours' properties - the tenant may receive a first and final warning. If the substantiated behaviour is deemed ‘disruptive’ (for example, excessive noise) the tenant will receive a strike. Not every complaint will result in a strike. This is because Housing must be fair to the tenant and a complaint must be substantiated with sufficient evidence for a strike to be recorded.
If a tenant reaches maximum strike action within a 12-month period, Housing will move to terminate. Ultimately, the decision to terminate a tenancy rests with a Magistrate.