Housing SA is responsible for following up and recovering any money owed to it.

Customers are responsible for paying any money they owe to Housing SA.

This policy sets out how:

  • Housing SA manages customer accounts, including debts owed to it by current and former customers
  • customers with an outstanding debt to Housing SA can access Housing SA’s services

Housing SA recovers and writes off debt in line with Treasurer’s Instructions 5 Debt recovery and write offs.

How Housing SA manages accounts

Housing SA customers have one account divided into segments. The segments include but aren’t limited to rent, repairs, water, and private rental bond debt.

If a customer owes more than one type of debt, for example unpaid rent and water charges, the total debt amount applies.

Customer payments are automatically prioritised and allocated to the oldest debt in each segment, regardless of the type of charge. Once all the debt has been repaid in the segment, the payments are allocated to the next segment with debt until all the debt in the account is paid in full.

Charges that can become a debt

Housing SA tenants must pay their rent in advance.

All customers, including tenants, must pay other charges within 14 days of the date on the invoice, for example water or repairs.

What a customer can be charged for includes, but isn’t limited to:

  • rent
  • bond
  • water use
  • repairs
  • overclaimed benefits, for example wrongly receiving a reduced rent
  • a private rental bond provided by Housing SA that’s claimed in full or in part by a landlord

Arrangements to repay a debt

If a customer can’t pay a debt in full by the due-by date, they must make an arrangement with Housing SA to repay it.

A debt can’t be transferred from one person to another, but a third party can make an arrangement to repay a debt owed by someone else.

Minimum repayment amount for current tenants

The minimum repayment amount for current tenants is equal to 20% of their rent.

The minimum repayment amount for current tenants of housing in an Aboriginal Community is $5 per week.

Tenants are encouraged to make repayments above this.

Minimum repayment amount for all other customers

The minimum repayment amount for all other customers is $15 per week. Housing SA may vary this amount from time to time. Customers are encouraged to make repayments above this amount.

Temporary financial hardship

Housing SA will only approve arrangements below the minimum repayment amount if the customer can show evidence of temporary financial hardship.

Broken arrangements

An arrangement to repay a debt is broken if the customer:

  • misses a payment or pays less than the full repayment amount
  • is a tenant and doesn’t renegotiate the repayment arrangement to cover the cost of a rent increase
  • doesn’t respond to a request by Housing SA to review their debt, except if Housing SA is satisfied there’s a genuine reason why
  • doesn’t renegotiate a repayment rearrangement before it breaks

Customers can make up to 2 arrangements to repay a debt within 6 months. If a customer refuses to make an arrangement or the second arrangement breaks, Housing SA may either:

  • end their tenancy if they are a tenant
  • outsource the debt collection to a private debt collection agency

Writing off a customer’s debt

Housing SA may choose not to recover a customer’s debt for an indefinite or set period of time, also known as writing off a debt. Housing SA may start or restart action to recover the debt if appropriate.

Access to services for customers with a debt

Housing SA may limit services provided to customers who refuse to pay or make an arrangement to repay a debt they owe to Housing SA. Services include:

  • help paying bond or rent into a private rental property
  • being housed or rehoused in public housing
  • buying their public housing property
  • a mutual exchange
  • transferring to another public housing property

A customer who is bankrupt with a debt to Housing SA isn’t eligible for Housing SA services until the bankruptcy is discharged, except if they have extraordinary circumstances.

Refunds

Housing SA issues a refund if all the below apply:

  • the total balance of all segments in the customer’s account is in credit
  • paying the refund won’t create a debt in their account
  • if the customer’s a tenant, paying the refund won’t affect their regular rent payments

Money isn’t refunded to a third party’s bank account, except if the tenant is deceased and the third party can provide evidence they’re entitled to the money.

Housing SA makes reasonable attempts to refund unclaimed credit in a customer’s account. If the money is unclaimed after 6 years, it’s forwarded to Department of Treasury and Finance. Customers contact the Department of Treasury and Finance directly after this time if they want to claim the money.

Related laws, policies and documents

Controlling documents

This policy is based on and complies with:

Supporting guidelines

  • Account management procedures v1.1
  • Writing off a debt procedures v2
  • Outsourcing a debt procedures v2

Related policies and other documents

Date this policy applies from

14 April 2020

Version number

1

The online version of the policy is the approved and current version. There is no guarantee that any printed copies are current.