Q. What is NGO accommodation?
A. The Department of Housing has recently expanded its services to include the provision of housing for employees of non-government organisations (NGO’s). The provision of NGO employee housing has been made available through a strategic initiative to assist in sustaining the delivery of key government funded services delivered by NGO’s.
The Department of Housing leases the properties to the non-government organisation who then subleases the properties to their eligible employees. The Department of Housing manages the tenancy relationship (i.e. acts as agent) on behalf of the NGO.
Q. What are the eligibility criteria?
A. NGO employees must meet the following criteria to be eligible for assistance. Individuals must:
- Be an Australian citizen or otherwise eligible to work in Australia
- Have a contract of employment with a NGO
- Not own property (house and/ or land) within 50km of the town of employment (in the case of staff who provide services to multiple locations, the employees base location shall be considered). This also applies to the employees partner
- Must not be eligible for other employee housing programs. This also applies to the employees partner and dependents
- Require assistance to access affordable accommodation due to income constraints
- Must have an arrangement in place to pay back any existing debt to the Department of Housing
- Be willing to provide full disclosure of household members as part of their employee housing application.
Q. How do I pay my rent?
A. Tenants pay rent directly to their employing organisation, in some cases this is facilitated by pay deductions by the employing NGO. Any overpayments can only be recouped from your Employer.
The Department of Housing will only invoice tenants for Water Consumption and Tenant Liability; these invoices can be paid online via our Online Bill Payment
Q. Tenancy Agreement – how long are they for?
A. Tenancy Agreements for tenants are periodical not fixed term.
The continued occupation of the property is reliant upon your continued employment with the NGO and the property being properly maintained. You can be served with a notice to vacate the property if you breach the conditions of your tenancy agreement. Any notice served by the Department of Housing will be made in consultation with your employer.
The employing NGO will sign a fixed term lease which they will negotiate with the Department of Housing.
Q. Pets – what rules are there?
A. There are few common-sense rules:
- Dogs and cats can be kept, subject to approval , provided the property has a separate yard that is properly enclosed in accordance with local authority by-laws ;
- Tenants must ensure that their pet does not damage the property or disturb neighbors. Any damage that occurs due to pets will be assessed as tenant liability and the tenant will be responsible for costs associated with rectifying the damage;
- If you live in a flat or unit without an enclosed separate yard, you must comply with the relevant strata management regulations
- Some breeds are not allowed. For more information please refer to the Tenant Handbook and the Grounds and Gardens Policy.
Q. Can other people live in my NGO house with me?
A. NGO Tenants are not permitted to sublet their property (or part thereof) for payment or other consideration. Subletting will be considered a breach of your tenancy agreement and appropriate action will be taken.
If you are planning to be absent from your home for a period of time, but intend to return, you must obtain written approval from the Department of Housing and your employer for another person to reside in the house. The caretaker / house sitter is required to abide by the same tenancy rules that apply to NGO tenants. For more information please refer to the Subletting Policy
Q. Does the Department of Housing conduct annual inspections?
A. Yes – Properties will be inspected at least once a year.
Q. The property has bottled gas. How do I get my supply?
A. The gas bottles are hired from a gas company whose contact details will be shown on the existing bottle. You need to contact the local supplier to order refills. If you do not have contact details for a local supplier, contact the gas company for their closest supplier. Regardless of the supplier, the cost of the gas bottle refills is met by the tenant, unless they reside in a south west serviced unit. If you live in a remote community, gas is usually purchased from the community store.
Q. What furniture is supplied?
A. Furniture is not supplied to NGO housing.
Q. Shared tenancies – how are they different?
A. Sometimes the organisation and / or employee will choose to share accommodation between two or more employees. In these cases:
- The employing organisation is responsible for paying all water consumption and tenant liability for shared tenancies. The organisation may choose to pass these fees on to the tenants.
- Power and gas supply charges are usually the responsibility of the tenants. Tenants should seek clarification from their employer about their organisation’s policy on utility charges.
- Tenants are still bound by the Residential Tenancy Act 1987 and have the same rights and obligations as other tenants under the Act.
Q. Can I request air conditioning?
A. Air conditioning is provided in locations where the mean annual number of discomfort days exceeds 22 as indicated in the Heat Discomfort Chart published by the Bureau of Meteorology.
If your property meets these conditions and does not have air conditioning, please contact your employer to discuss.
Q. How do I appeal a decision made by the Department of Housing?
A. The right of appeal is an integral part of the Department of Housing’s Customer Service Charter. The Appeals Mechanism offers all tenants an informal, thorough, fair and inexpensive means of appealing a decision. You should contact your local Housing Services Officer if you wish to dispute a decision taken against you either during your tenancy or after you have vacated the premises.
Q. How do I arrange maintenance?
General maintenance must be reported to Housing Direct within 3 days. Emergency maintenance issues must be reported immediately.
Housing Direct provides a 24 hour emergency contact centre to handle emergency maintenance issues between 5pm and 8am on work days and 24 hours on weekends and public holidays.
Q. What is considered emergency maintenance?
A. Problems such as:
- Gas leak
- Loss of lights and / or power
- Electric shocks or sparks
- Burst water pipes or water leak where the water must be turned off
- Vandal damage which compromises the security of the property.
After hours emergency maintenance should be reported immediately to “Housing Direct” on the toll free number 1300 137 677.
Q. When is a tenant responsible for maintenance?
A. Where damage is caused by reasons other than general wear and tear.
- Damage to walls and doors by furniture, wall posters or careless picture hanging
- Damage to floor coverings, window treatments by burns, stains etc.
- Cost of clearing blocked drains, if the blockage is caused through misuse
- Electrical fuses or circuits damaged by the occupant(s) using faulting electrical appliances
- Eradication of household pests and vermin such as mice, cockroaches, ants or fleas that can be directly attributed to occupant standards or pets
- Damage to fly-screens caused by occupant misuse
- Damage caused by pets
- Upkeep of lawns and garden areas, including reticulation systems
- Replacement of lost keys.
Q. Who is responsible for garden maintenance?
A. It is the tenant’s responsibility to maintain the garden areas of their home. Tenants are required to keep plants and lawns watered and to comply with sprinkler restrictions, mow lawn areas regularly and removed weeds and debris as required. If reticulation fails, tenants are responsible for maintaining regular watering until it is fixed.
Tenants remain responsible for gardens even when absent on holidays and the cost to repair or re-establish the garden will be charged as Tenant Liability.
Q. I have tried to arrange maintenance several times and the work is still not done. What do I do now?
A. Call your Housing Services Officer (HSO) at the local office to report the situation. Your HSO will follow up with Housing Direct to progress your maintenance request. If you continue to have delays you can report the problem to a team leader or manager at the local office.
Invoices and payments
Q. I have a received a large Water Consumption or Tenant Liability account, can I pay it in instalments?
A. You may make an arrangement to pay appropriate installments by calling your Housing Services Officer at the local Department of Housing office
. This arrangement will be lodged in your account, and no further action will be taken if you pay the installments as per the agreement.
However, if you fail to make an arranged payment you may receive a breach notice. If you receive a breach notice you should contact your Housing Services Officer at the local Department of Housing office
Q. How do I get a copy of my account?
A. A copy of your account can be requested through your Housing Services Officer or the Senior Finance Officer at Housing Programs Directorate (ph. 9286 6000). The account will be posted to the postal address listed in our database; if this has changed please let us know.
Q. The online payment system won’t work. What can I do?
A. Online payments are made through an external Active Call payment site, and technical issues do occur from time to time. If the problem persists and your account is overdue, call your Housing Services Officer to advise them of the problem, obtain more time to pay and / or discuss other payment options.
Q. Water consumption – who pays the bill?
A. Tenants are responsible for paying water consumption, except in the following situations:
- The employing organisation is responsible for water consumption for shared accommodation (i.e. where one or more non-related employees share the same dwelling)
- The Department of Housing is responsible for water consumption in serviced accommodation where there are no individual water meters.
Water consumption accounts must be paid to the Department of Housing by the due date. For more information please see the Water Consumption Policy.
Tenants should only receive water bills from the Department of Housing, not from suppliers, real estate agents or owners. If you receive a water bill from anyone other than the Department of Housing, please contact the Housing Programs Directorate, on (08) 9286 6000, as it may already have been paid.
Q. How do I read my water meter?
A. Reading your water meter regularly and keeping a simple record of your water use can help you alter your usage habits to suit your budget. Your water meter can also help you to detect possible leaks. Instructions on reading your meter
can be found on the Water Corporation website.
Q. I have received a final notice but have not received a bill. What do I do?
A. You need to contact your Housing Services Officer at the local Department of Housing office
to advise them of this. They will arrange a reprint of your account and negotiate an extension of the due date.
Q. What do I do if I think my water bill is excessive?
- Check previous consumption
- Check for leaks
- Call Housing Direct to arrange maintenance to repair the leak
- Contact your Housing Services Officer at the local Department of Housing office regarding a possible leak allowance or appeal.
Q. Do I have to pay an excessive water bill?
A. If you find a leak or have had a leak during the course of the billing period you may lodge an appeal against the charges. This should be emailed or posted to your Housing Services Officer at the local Department of Housing office with any evidence you have to support your appeal.
Your case will be investigated and if justified an amount may be waived. Please note that high consumption caused by failure to report a known leak or damage caused by wilful damage, negligence or pets will not be considered for a reduction.
Q. How do I do a leak test?
A. If you have an unexplainably high water consumption account or think you may have a leak, instructions and helpful hints to find and test for leaks can be found on the Water Corporation website.
If you find a leak please contact Housing Direct to arrange maintenance. If a substantial mains leak is found, the plumber may submit a leak allowance form to Water Corporation and a credit may be issued for water lost.
Q. Can I get help with the water bills to establish a new garden?
A. The Department of Housing may provide partial reimbursement for water consumption charges resulting from the establishment / reestablishment of gardens (including lawns). Full details can be found in GROH’s Water Consumption Policy section 4.