Rent Payment

Purpose
Legal Framework
Background
Entitlement

Appealing Decisions and Actions

Purpose

The purpose of the Payment of Rent Policy is to detail Housing ACT's requirements for the payment of rent by tenants.

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Legal Framework

This policy is consistent with the provisions of the Residential Tenancies Act 1997 (RTA), the Public Rental Housing Assistance Program and the tenancy agreement. The provisions enable Housing ACT to:

  • require a tenant to pay some form of rent
  • agree with the tenant on the way rent is paid (eg., by cash payment, Centrelink deduction, and/or direct debit from a financial institution)
  • require the tenant to pay an amount of rent in advance, but not exceeding an amount equivalent to 1 calendar month's rent.

In addition, the provisions require the tenant to pay rent on time.

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Background

Housing ACT charges full market rent for its properties.

Housing ACT rent is payable fortnightly in advance.

A tenant suffering financial hardship may apply for rental rebate assistance to help meet his/her rental payments. Rental rebate assistance is provided to an eligible tenant for a period of six (6) months. It is the tenant's responsibility to lodge a complete application for a rental rebate prior to the current entitlement lapsing. This will enable the application to be assessed/approved on time to ensure continuity of assistance. Failure to lodge a complete application on time will result in the rebate lapsing and full market rent being charged.

See the Rental Rebate Policy for additional information.

A Housing ACT tenant is required to pay rent. The money is used to improve services and maintain properties. Failure to pay rent or to come to some agreement to pay any rental arrears may lead to prosecution for the recovery of the debt through the ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal (ACAT) External Link or the Courts. In serious cases, Housing ACT may seek a termination of the tenancy through the RTT.

If an unexpected problem comes up and a tenant can't pay the rent, he/she should contact his/her Housing Manager immediately to discuss the problem.

See the Debt Management Policy for additional information.

A tenant can choose from the following methods of paying rent:

  • Centrelink Deduction - by arranging an automatic payment from his/her Centrelink payments
  • Bank Direct Debit - by arranging an automatic payment from his/her bank, building society or credit union account
  • At any Australia Post Office or Agency
  • Via the Internet - by accessing the ACT Government's web site at: http://www.canberraconnect.act.gov.au External Link - selecting the payment type and completing the details as indicated on screen
  • BPAY® - by telephoning or using the Internet to contact his/her financial institution's BPAY® service and arranging for payment to be made direct from his/her account
  • By paying directly at an ACT Government Shopfront or through the mail.

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Entitlement

A tenant is entitled to affordable rent which must be paid by the due date.

A tenant can change the method he/she uses to pay the rent at any time.

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Deductions from Centrelink payments

Deduction from Centrelink payments is Housing ACT's preferred way for a tenant to pay the rent. Housing ACT will encourage the tenant to pay rent this way.

Other household members can also arrange deductions from their Centrelink payments to pay their share of the rent and other expenses.

A tenant can choose to have more than the rent deducted from his/her Centrelink income. This extra amount may be used to pay arrears or charges for repairs and the like. However, the total amount deducted is limited to 35% of the household's assessable income.

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Paying at an ACT Government Shopfront

A tenant using this method of rent payment is issued with Rental Payment Vouchers that include the tenant's personal and account details. The tenant can make payments without the voucher, if he/she can quote his/her payment reference number. The Shopfront customer service officer will issue a receipt for the payment.

The receipt will show the amount paid for rent and other amounts paid for other things like maintenance. The tenant should keep this receipt as a record of payment.

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Paying at an Australia Post Office or Agency

A tenant using this method of rent payment is issued with an Australia Post payment card that includes the tenant's personal and account details. This card must be presented at the Australia Post outlet in order to make a payment.

The Australia Post officer will issue a receipt showing details of the payment. Tenants should keep this receipt as a record of payment.

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Direct Debit - deductions from bank, building society and credit union accounts

Housing ACT can accept direct debits from most financial institutions. The payment can be made from any account provided it is authorised by the account holder. It does not need to come from the tenant's account. Payments are only debited on Thursdays.

These payments can be debited weekly or fortnightly. Any amount greater than $5 can be paid by direct debit. More than the rent can be debited to pay for rent arrears and other charges. If a tenant does not have enough money in his/her account to cover an automatic payment, the financial institution will charge him/her a dishonour fee. The tenant bears this cost. The financial institution will also charge Housing ACT a dishonour fee. Housing ACT does not pass this cost on to the tenant.

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Changing rent payment method

A tenant can stop or change direct debit or Centrelink deductions at any time. However, he/she must always make sure that the rent is paid on time by using another payment method.

When Housing ACT changes the amount of rent payable, it will tell the financial institution or Centrelink so that they can debit the new amount on the correct date.

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Rent account statements

A tenant may request a statement at any time. This will list:

  • The Standard Debit - market rent for the property
  • The Housing Benefit Standard Payment - rental subsidy granted
  • The Payments - made by tenant
  • The account balance - either a debit or credit amount.

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Appealing Decisions and Actions

A Tenant can appeal if he/she believes Housing ACT calculated the rental subsidy wrongly or it did not process payments correctly.

Refer to the Review of Decisions Policy for additional information.

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