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Frequently Asked Questions

General Tenancy Matters

  • How is the rent calculated?

    Apart from some housing programs that have separate rent setting arrangements rent is calculated based on your household’s assessable income and is calculated in keeping with the State’s Community Housing Policy that you are located in. [It is usually a 25% of gross household income plus 100% of Commonwealth Rent Assistance].

  • How do I pay my rent?

    CHL’s preferred method of payment of rent for tenants whose principal (or only) source of income is Centrelink, is Centrepay deduction from the Centrelink benefit before the benefit is paid.

    In terms of the Tenancy Agreement that you will sign on the day of handover, the rent is required to be two weeks in advance on the day of handover and then on the due date every two weeks thereafter.

    If your Centrelink benefit or income is less than your rent or variable from one fortnight to another we may allow you to pay your rent by Bank Transfer or Deposit Book. Contact your tenancy worker for more information.

  • How often do I have to pay my rent?

    You are required to pay your rent every fortnight. If you are reliant on Centrelink benefits the rent will be deducted from your Centrelink payment before you receive it, under the Centrepay arrangements.

    If you are not reliant on Centrelink payments you may pay your rent by Internet Banking Transfer, Direct Debit from your account or by going into a Westpac Bank branch using the deposit book we will provide.

    If paying your rent by one of these methods you must pay the same amount every fortnight on the due date.

  • Can I stop my rent for a short period?

    Generally speaking NO. If you are experiencing some form of financial hardship we ask that you contact your local office and arrange an appointment with the tenancy staff to discuss the matter.

  • Will I be able to claim Commonwealth Rent Assistance?

    Possibly. This is a matter for Centrelink to determine. You should apply to Centrelink before you accept this offer of housing.

    Make sure that you stress to Centrelink that this is NOT public housing, it is community housing. Take your approval letter and this FAQ with you to Centrelink.

  • Do I have to pay Rent In Advance?

    Yes. You must pay two weeks Rent In Advance before you can occupy the property and your rent must be two weeks in advance on the due date each fortnight.

    You must pay two weeks Rent In Advance by Bank Cheque or Money Order payable to Community Housing Limited or Community Housing Victoria Limited before you occupy the property.

    As Centrelink often take several weeks to process Centrepay deduction forms CHL/ CHVL may ask you to pay a small additional amount each fortnight for the first few months to make up the arrears that will be incurred due to slow processing of Centrelink forms. This will continue until your rent is two weeks in advance on the due date and CHL/ CHVL will then contact Centrelink to reduce your payments to the normal level.

  • What are non-rent accounts?

    Not applicable to Tasmanian Tenants.

    For other States, CHL will use your non rent account to debit you for charges such as bond, water usage bills, cleaning and other charges.

  • What do I do if I do not agree with my rent review?

    In this case you should contact your local tenancy team and arrange an appointment to discuss this matter. If you are still not happy with the result of this appointment you are able to ask that your query be forwarded to a higher level. If you are still not satisfied you can then contact the Tenants Union, contact information for the Tenants Union is available in each of our offices.

  • Am I responsible for the actions of my visitors?

    Yes.

    All NSW Tenants – Section 16.3 of the Residential Tenancy agreement states that “the tenant is responsible for any act or omission by a person who is lawfully on the residential premises if the person is only permitted on the premises with the tenant’s consent and the act or omission would be in breach of this agreement if done or omitted by the tenant”.

    All Queensland Tenants – Item 26 (2) of the Residential General Tenancy agreement states that “the tenant must not maliciously damage, or allow someone else to maliciously damage, the premises”.

    All Victorian Tenants – Section 60 of the Victorian Residential Tenancies Act holds tenants responsible for their visitors and guests.

    All Tasmanian Tenants – per the Tasmanian Residential Tenancy Agreement, under Section 22 Tenants Liability for Actions of Others; The tenant is liable for anything done by any person who is on the premises with the tenants stated or implied permission.

  • If I am having neighbour problems what can I do?

    If you have tried to discuss the problem with your neighbour and the two of you are still unable to come to an agreement you should consider mediation through the Community Justice Centre whose Australia wide free call number is 1800 990 777. http://www.cjc.nsw.gov.au/cjc/com_justice_contactus.html

    In Queensland contact the Dispute Resolution Centre whose Wide Bay free call number is 1800 681 109. http://www.justice.qld.gov.au/corporate/contact_us

    Please also contact your Tenancy Administrator who may also assist with referring you to mediation.

    Please also contact your local Area Manager or Housing Worker who may also assist with mediation.

  • Who do I report persons damaging property to?

    The police are the first people to contact in this case as well as any cases of unsociable behaviour. Secondly contact your local CHL /CHVL office. If the property is one you lease from CHL/CHVL please ensure that you obtain a police report or event number whatever is applicable in your State as you will be asked to contact the maintenance centre to ask for repairs and they will request a copy of the Police report or the event number. If you do not obtain this number you may very well be charged for the damages.

    In NSW it is referred to as the ‘E’ number whereas in Queensland it is referred to as the ‘QP’ number.

  • How can I lodge a complaint?

    Many problems can be sorted out quickly and informally by speaking to the employee who is dealing with the matter. We would encourage you to use the informal approach first.

    While we would hope that most problems can be sorted out quickly and informally, you have every right to make a complaint.

    Wherever possible you should try to contact us, or write to us, or request for a CHL Complaints Form from one of our offices and send it within two weeks of the event or incident you are not happy about.

    If you prefer you can lodge a complaints through our online form (hyperlinked) and download the complaints form for the State you are in by visiting the relevant State page from the Keeping you informed section (hyperlinked)

    CHL can arrange an interpreter if you require one. You may request someone else to lodge a complaint on your behalf. You should give them written permission to do this.

  • What can I make a complaint about?

    At CHL we take complaints seriously. Anyone who requests, receives or provides a service to or from CHL, or is affected in a significant way by CHL’s activities can use our complaints procedure. For example a client, a housing applicant, a tenant, contractor or neighbour of a CHL property.

    • Unprofessional behavior
    • Poor advice
    • Unsatisfactory service
    • Misuse of information
    • Any other aspect of Community Housing Ltd.’s operations you are not satisfied with
  • How will you deal with my complaint?

    In handling your complaint we will;

    • Actively encourage your comments and suggestions
    • Try to make it easy for you to register and record your complaint
    • Aim to resolve the matter quickly and, where possible, informally investigate fully
    • Keep you informed throughout the process
    • Try to reach a resolution that you are satisfied with
  • Who do I report a crime to?

    If you, or your property, are a victim of a crime you should Phone Police on 000.

    You can also contact the Police Assistance Line (PAL) 131 444. If you, or your property, are a victim of a crime you should use this number. Once your report is completed by a customer service representative, your information is immediately available to your local police. Types of crimes you can report to the Police Assistance Line include break and enter, motor vehicle theft, stealing and malicious damage (including graffiti).

  • Can I downsize?

    Many of you have been tenants of CHL for many years and now your children have grown and gone out on their own and now you find that the property is too much for you to cope with. In these cases we suggest you contact your Housing Officer or Tenancy Administrator and discuss with them what opportunities there is for you to relocate to smaller premises. It can take some considerable time to achieve this so we ask you to be patient. It can take some considerable time to achieve this so we ask you to be patient.

  • Can I apply for a transfer?

    You may apply for a Transfer to another property if your existing home is no longer suitable. To apply for a transfer you will need to fill in the transfer application form and provide documents that support your application. The following are some examples of the supporting documents: medical, domestic violence, doctor’s letters, police event numbers etc. You can lodge this application to any of our State based offices where the eligibility is going to be assessed.

    In Queensland you will need to fill in the Department of Housing and Public Works application for transfer form and can lodge this application to any Department of Housing and Public Works offices where the eligibility is going to be assessed and an approval given by the Department of Housing and Public Works.

  • Can I apply for a Tenant Interest Free Loan?

    This scheme is only available to NSW tenants. You can apply for a Tenant Interest Free Loan if you have been a tenant of CHL in NSW for a minimum of six months, are two weeks or more in advance and can afford the repayments. For more information on how to apply for this loan please contact your local office.

  • How often do you inspect a property?

    All CHL properties will be inspected at least twice a year by staff and a written record will be kept in the office. You will receive between three to seven days’ notice depending on the State you are in, that there is going to be inspection.

  • What happens if I don’t return my condition report?

    The condition report you are given at the signing of your lease may become the most important piece of evidence if a dispute arises at the end of the tenancy. The report must be filled in correctly with your comments added in the space provided, if you find there is not enough space to add your comments please use a separate sheet of paper that can be copied and signed by both parties. You are responsible to return the completed report within 3 days in Queensland and 7 days in Tasmania, NSW and Victoria of the start of the tenancy. If you don’t take the time to complete it accurately money could be taken out of your bond to pay for damage that was already there when you moved in.

  • Do I have to attend an exit inspection?

    If you have given notice of leaving your property you should be asked by your tenancy team to make an appointment to carry out a final (exit) inspection. This inspection should be done after all your goods are removed and the property cleaned. At this inspection you, and also the tenancy worker, should have the original copy of the entry condition report and therefore be able to find any maintenance that are not fair wear and tear.

  • Am I allowed to have a pet?

    This could depend on several circumstances such as the sort of property you live in, your neighbours and if the property is leased by CHL. Remember that all leases have a no pet clause and you therefore need the manager’s approval to have a pet on the premises.

  • How is my privacy protected?

    All CHL staff members are aware of privacy laws and strictly uphold our policies and internal practices concerning your confidentiality. The majority of information that you have given us is digitally recorded on our computer system. Federal privacy laws prevent us from providing any information about you to any other individual or organisation unless you have given a Consent of Disclosure allowing us to do so. There are some exclusions to this such as Police or Centrelink investigations, Court orders and subpoenas.

  • Am I still on the housing waitlist even after moving in to one of CHL/ CHVL properties?

    In NSW and Queensland there is only one common waitlist for social housing so if you have been housed in long-term housing with CHL you will have been removed from the common waitlist. This also includes those tenants housed in NRAS properties. Exceptions to this are those clients housed in crisis or supported accommodation who will only be housed for a short-term, e.g. 6-12 months.

    In Victoria you will need to sign a release that will have your name removed from the Public housing Wait List. Exceptions to this are Rooming Houses.

    In Tasmania – we have a consent form that gives us permission to contact Housing Tasmania and have you removed from the wait list.

  • Do I need to inform about any new addition in the family?

    If you have a new member in your house please contact your tenancy worker. You may be eligible for a larger house to better suit your new family needs.

    If you allow other people to live permanently at your premises without paying rent, or notifying CHL/ CHVL of the change in your household numbers, you are breaching your tenancy agreement with CHL/ CHVL and could be evicted from the property.

  • Do I have to let a property assessor into my home?

    CHL undertakes housing inspections of its properties at regular periods. We will inform you when an inspection is due. If you have someone attend your property please make sure that you ask for identification. If you have any questions regarding this please use the maintenance number 1300 4 CHL REPAIR or contact your local tenancy worker.

  • Do I have to pay a Bond?

    Yes. In NSW CHL requires new tenants to pay a bond equivalent to four [4] weeks rebated rent, paid prior, or at the time of signing the tenancy agreement.

    If you are unable to afford this, arrangements to pay the remaining amount over an agreed period of 10 weeks can be negotiated with the Area Manager.

    In Queensland you must pay a Bond equivalent to four weeks rent before you can occupy the property.

    If you do not have this money you may be eligible for a Bond Loan from the Department of Housing and Public Works (DHPW). Contact the DHPW nearest to the suburb you currently live in to make enquiries.

    In Victoria you must pay a Bond equivalent to four weeks rent before you can occupy the property.

    In Tasmania you must pay a bond. You will have to pay at a minimum of 2 weeks up to 4 weeks depending which CHL housing program you are going into

    If you do not have this money you may be eligible for a Bond Loan from the Director of Housing. Contact the DHHS on 133677 to make enquiries.

  • Does CHL supply a television antenna?

    CHL is not obligated to supply a television antenna. A socket and an antenna may be provided depending on whether the property is new or has been previously occupied.

    CHL does not provide Pay Television. You may arrange connection of Pay Television at your own expense providing you let us know and agree to sign an Indemnity Form, under which you agree to leave the connections or reinstate the property to its original condition if you vacate.

  • Does CHL supply air-conditioning?

    CHL is not obligated to supply air-conditioning. Air-conditioning may be provided depending on whether the property is new or has been previously occupied.

    You may arrange for installation of air-conditioning  at your own expense providing you let us know and agree to sign an Indemnity Form, under which you agree to leave the equipment or reinstate the property to its original condition if you vacate.

  • Does CHL provide a fixed line telephone service?

    CHL is not obligated to supply a fixed line telephone service. A socket and a telephone may be provided depending on whether the property is new or has been previously occupied.

    You may arrange connection of a fixed line telephone at your own expense providing you let us know and agree to leave the connections or reinstate the property to its original condition if you vacate.

    You must also notify us of the telephone number.

  • How do I arrange connection of electricity and gas?

    Connection of electricity and gas is your responsibility. You will have to pay for connection costs and usage. You may choose your own electricity and gas retailer. The terms and conditions regarding supply of electricity and gas are a matter between you and your retailer.

    There are a number of websites that offer free comparisons.

    We recommend that you shop around to find the best price plan to suit your needs.

    If you chose, CHVL can arrange utility connections for you in Victoria via a rewards program with a panel of connection services. The service is free to tenants. The proceeds from the rewards program are used for programs that benefit tenants. Your tenancy administrator can provide more detail on this.

  • How do I arrange connection of water supply?

    Connection of water supply is your responsibility. You will have to pay for connection costs, usage and sewerage disposal. CHL will pay rates and service charges. You must choose the water retailer for your area. The terms and conditions regarding supply of water are a matter between you and your retailer.

  • Telephone Service in Newly Constructed Properties?

    CHL will provide the infrastructure for a fixed line telephone service. But CHL will NOT connect the service; that is your responsibility and cost. Please understand that Telstra may charge a “first time connection fee” as this is the first connection to the property. This fee may be around $300- $350 and is unavoidable. CHL will NOT pay for or reimburse this cost.

  • Does CHL provide Internet service?

    CHL is not obligated to supply an Internet service. A connection may be provided depending on whether the property is new or has been previously occupied.

    CHL does not provide internet service. You may arrange connection of an internet service at your own expense providing you let us know and agree to leave the connections or reinstate the property to its original condition if you vacate.

  • Does CHL provide Contents insurance?

    No. CHL does not provide insurance for household contents. That is your responsibility.

Repairs and Maintenance

  • How do I request maintenance?

    Generally all requests for maintenance must be called through to our Maintenance Call Centre on 1300 4 CHLREPAIR. Alternatively please email maintenance@chl.org.au

    Full details will be provided at the time of your tenancy sign-up.

  • How long before my maintenance request is completed?

    As per the Residential Tenancy Act the following applies:

    Urgent – 4 hours, to make the premises safe from gas leaks, major water loss, security threat, sewer overflow or electrical danger.

    Priority – 24 hour, to repair water leaks in pipes, repair broken external doors, repair broken windows, clear drain blockages, restore electricity, repair or stop major roof leakages.

    Normal repair – within 14-21 days depending on the State, all other repairs such as leaking taps, broken internal doors, stove repairs, broken light batten, running toilet.

    For all repairs and maintenance enquiries call 1300 4 CHL REPAIR [1300 424 573] or email at maintenance@chl.org.au

  • What are my responsibilities regarding maintenance?

    Generally it is the tenant’s responsibility to maintain the garden and clean out the roof gutters and downpipes. Common garden areas will be maintained by CHL and the rent may include a fee for maintenance of common garden, public lighting etc.

    Tenants are responsible for changing and replacing consumables such as light bulbs, smoke detector batteries, garage remote control devices and their batteries.

  • Can I fix an extra shelf in my kitchen?

    In accordance with your lease, tenants are reminded that they not permitted to make any alterations to their property without first obtaining written permission from Community Housing Limited. ‘Alterations’ include painting, changing any fixture or fitting, making changes to the floor coverings, installation of air conditioners or other fixed appliances, installing shelves, hooks, locks or grills, removing trees or shrubs, removing grassed areas, removing or planting gardens.

    However, Modifications to properties can be arranged through Community Housing Limited to assist Elderly or People suffering from any disability so that they can continue to live independently in their property.

  • Why does my circuit breaker keep tripping?

    An overloaded circuit is the primary reason for a breaker tripping, the circuit breaker is designed to shut off when more current runs through the circuit than it was designed to take. A major cause off this can be one of your appliances not functioning correctly, we suggest that you shut off all appliances that were on at the time the circuit breaker shut down and then reset the breaker followed by turning one appliance on at a time as this can tell you which appliance is faulty. If the appliance is found to be faulty you should replace it and not use it again.

  • What do I do if I have a major water leak?

    If the leak is on the house side of the meter firstly turn off the meter and then call the maintenance hotline, 1300 4 CHL REPAIR (1300 424 573), they will organise a plumber for you to attend to the leak within four hours. If the leak is in the road side of the meter still contact the hotline and they will organise to have your local council attend to do the repair.

  • What happens if I lose my keys?

    If it occurs during business hours we can help you out by lending you our set of keys, which will need to be returned the following day.

    If you’ve lost your keys, you can then make a copy of these at you own expense. Similarly so if you lose or damage a remote control or access card well assist you with a replacement, however you will be required to pay the cost.

    Should you lock yourself out over a weekend, during a public holiday or at night you’ll need to arrange a locksmith at your own expense, you will also be required to give your agent or landlord a copy of the new key.

    However if your property is on a bi-lock system, or a restricted access system, you will need to call us on the 1300 4 CHL REPAIR number, and you will be charged for a call out fee.