The purpose of the Client Service Visits policy is to detail Housing ACT's requirements for client service visits.
This policy is consistent with the provisions of the Residential Tenancies Act 1997 (RTA) and the tenancy agreement. Housing ACT may routinely inspect the premises twice in each period of 12 months following the commencement of the tenancy. In addition, Housing ACT may make an inspection of the premises within 1 month of the commencement of the tenancy and in the last month of the tenancy.
Landlord access to premises for making or inspecting repairs does not constitute a client service visit.
A Client Service Visit is a routine visit by a staff member, representing Housing ACT as the landlord, to a tenant's home.
Client Service Visits aim to:
- Develop a good working relationship with tenants and open up channels of communication
- Determine whether the tenant has any concerns he/she may not have brought to our attention
- Ensure that we have accurate information about the number of people in the household and their income
- Provide information for our maintenance and asset management strategies
- Help make sure that both Housing ACT and the tenant are meeting their obligations under the tenancy agreement (eg., property condition, payment of rent, and arrears management)
- Address any issues relating to nuisance, quiet enjoyment, tenant responsible maintenance, dirty/unsafe common areas, and any other housing issues.
Getting to know tenants allows us to identify potential tenancy problems early. We may be able to prevent nuisance or annoying issues from arising. We may also be able to help tenants who are falling behind in their rent or other payments.
Housing Managers can use these visits to increase tenants' awareness of the support services that are available to meet their needs. Tenants can be put in touch with agencies before problems become critical.
A Property Condition Report is completed during the visit. This improves our knowledge of the condition of our properties so we can manage maintenance better. Sometimes a tenant who has requested major maintenance work initiates a visit.
A Client Service Visit also allows us to check:
- that the income information provided by the tenant is correct
- that the people living in the home match our records
- that the number of people living in the dwelling is appropriate for the number of bedrooms
- the condition of the dwelling, assess any repairs, maintenance or upgrade that is required, and note any damage caused by the tenant that will be required to be rectified by the tenant at his/her cost within a specified timeframe
- if smoke alarms are working, and that the tenant knows how to test them;
- if there are any issues the tenant may have and link them with support services, if required;
- if tenants who require support to live independently, or who were allocated with supports in place, are still accessing those support services;
- if tenants are aware of any community linkages programs that are available to them, particularly in their complexes; and
- if a tenant is considered socially isolated, particularly elderly and disabled tenants, and provide them with information and referral to support services if requested and/or consent is signed.
Each tenant will receive at least one Client Service Visit each year.
The tenant is entitled to have a support person with him/her during the visit if he/she wishes.
The tenant is required to be present at the Client Service Visit, however, in exceptional circumstances they may nominate a representative to attend the visit on their behalf. Requests must be confirmed in writing using the Client Service Visit Representative form, which must be provided to Housing ACT prior to the visit. The representative person must be over the age of 16 years.
Housing ACT will respect a tenant's right to privacy and quiet enjoyment of their home. At least seven (7) days written notice of a Client Service Visit will be provided to the tenant.
Staff members will treat a tenant with courtesy and respect, in line with the ACT Public Service Code of Ethics.
A written record of the outcome of the visit will be kept.
Preparing for the Visit
Staff will carefully prepare for each visit. They will find out as much information about a tenancy as possible by researching the tenant's history. This will make the officer aware of:
- Who is living in the household
- Any potential concerns regarding the behaviour of the client
- Whether the tenant has any pets which may cause a problem
- Any nuisance or annoyance matters involving the tenant or his/her neighbour.
- Any money owed to Housing ACT by the tenant
- The last time maintenance work was done
- Any outstanding maintenance
- Any proposals for planned maintenance/upgrades that will affect this tenancy
- Any outstanding issues which the tenant may have raised with Housing ACT
If an officer has any doubts about conducting a visit they should be discussed with a senior officer. The personal safety of Housing ACT's employees is a prime consideration and will sometimes entail two or more staff attending the premises.
Conducting the Visit
Staff will wear the Housing ACT name badge and should carry photographic identification with them and produce this for the tenant. They will also carry a supply of brochures and forms that a tenant may request.
The officer will explain the purpose of the visit. This may include discussing nuisance and annoyance matters or problems with rental arrears. The officer will let the tenant know about any plans Housing ACT may have for the property, such as planned painting or other maintenance.
Most visits will take around thirty (30) minutes. This will allow time for the officer to build a rapport with the tenant and explore issues that are concerning him/her.
Staff will keep a written record of what they and the tenant agree to do as a result of the visit. The officer will give the tenant realistic time frames about any action they agree to. It is important that the tenant is clear about the outcomes of the visit.
After the Visit
The information collected during the visit is used to update Housing ACT's database records.
If appropriate, the tenant is provided with written confirmation of any significant undertakings given by either the officer or tenant. Examples of undertakings that may be agreed to during the visit include: Housing ACT will initiate specific repairs/maintenance within a specified timeframe; tenant will comply with provisions of arrears repayment agreement; and tenant will rectify TRM matter within specified timeframe.