This policy sets out how Housing SA calculates rent for:

  • public and Aboriginal housing properties
  • housing managed by Housing SA in Aboriginal communities

This policy doesn’t apply to:

  • Pathways Housing Program tenancies
  • Tika Tirka Program tenancies
  • properties leased to another agency
  • joint venture properties

Rent is charged every Saturday, and is paid in line with the Customer payment options and Income Management policy.

Unpaid rent becomes a debt the tenant owes to Housing SA in line with the Account management policy.

Tenant responsibilities

The tenant is the person who signed the lease agreement, also known as the Conditions of Tenancy or Tenancy Agreement, with Housing SA.

Tenants must:

  • pay rent until the end of their lease agreement
  • tell Housing SA about any change to their household or household income in writing within 14 days
  • provide proof of income for their household when asked by Housing SA
  • provide proof of a caring arrangement when asked by Housing SA

Housing SA approves other occupants in a tenant’s household in line with the Visitors, other occupants and overcrowding policy.

Types of rent

Market rent

Market rent is the maximum amount of rent that Housing SA can charge for a property.

Market rent is based on the property’s rental value in the private market, determined by the State Valuer General.

For public and Aboriginal housing, market rent takes into consideration the location, age, size and condition of the property.

For housing in an Aboriginal community, market rent takes into consideration the number of bedrooms in the property and the tenant’s ability to pay rent based on data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics, for example the average household income, median rent.

Tenants are charged market rent in any of the below situations:

  • they don’t apply or aren’t eligible for a subsidised rent
  • they don’t provide proof of income when asked by Housing SA
  • they live in public or Aboriginal housing, someone in the household has an interest in residential property, and Housing SA decides to charge market rent in line with the Property ownership policy

Subsidised rent

Subsidised rent is based on a percentage of the tenant’s total assessable household income before tax.

Tenants can apply for a subsidised rent. They’re eligible if the market rent for their property is more than either:

  • 25% of their total assessable household income before tax for public housing, Aboriginal housing, or housing in a non-remote Aboriginal community
  • 20% of their total assessable household income before tax for housing in a remote Aboriginal community

Calculating rent

Housing SA calculates the type and amount of rent the tenant pays based on their total assessable household income before tax.

In public or Aboriginal housing, the percentage of a household member’ assessable income before tax used to calculate rent is determined by whether Housing SA considers them to be either:

  • an adult
  • a child
  • someone who provides care to the tenant
  • someone aged 21 or younger who’s total assessable household income before tax is less than Centrelink’s single JobSeeker payment rate
  • renting a cottage flat

In housing in an Aboriginal community, the total assessable household income before tax includes income received by anyone living in the property aged 18 or over, except household members who provide care to the tenant in line with this policy.

Adults

An adult is someone aged 21 and over. Housing SA uses 25% of their assessable income before tax to calculate rent.

If the tenant is aged 20 or younger, they’re considered to be an adult.

Children

Housing SA considers a household member to be a child if they’re aged 20 or younger and are in the legal custody or guardianship of the tenant or their partner. This includes but isn’t limited to when:

  • the tenant or their partner has legal custody or guardianship of them
  • the tenant or their partner provides out-of-home care to them, for example foster or kinship care
  • they’re an overseas school student who stays with the tenant as part of a student homestay arrangement

If the tenant rents Aboriginal housing, anyone in the household aged 16 to 20 is considered a child in the legal custody or guardianship of the tenant or their partner.

Housing SA may ask for proof of any arrangement at any time, for example a Centrelink income statement showing the tenant receives a family payment for the child, a carer identification card from the Department of Child Protection.

Housing SA uses 15% of the below assessable income types before tax received for or by a child in the legal custody or guardianship of the tenant or their partner to calculate rent:

  • Centrelink’s Family Tax Benefit payments for the 5 oldest children
  • child support maintenance received by the tenant or their partner for the child
  • Student Homestay Payment for an overseas school student aged 16 to 20 who stays with the tenant as part of a student homestay arrangement
  • any income received by children aged 18 to 20

Housing SA uses 15% of the maximum rate of Centrelink’s Youth Allowance payment for a person aged 18 or older and living at their parent’s home to calculate rent if a child meets all the below criteria:

  • they’re aged 18 to 20
  • they’re in the legal custody or guardianship of the tenant or their partner
  • they receive both a wage and an income from Centrelink

Income received by children aged 16 or 17 in the legal custody or guardianship of the tenant or their partner isn’t included when calculating rent.

If there are other children in the household who aren’t in the legal custody or guardianship of the tenant or their partner, Housing SA uses 25% of assessable income before tax received for or by them to calculate rent.

Carers

Income received by a carer isn’t included when calculating rent if all the below conditions are met:

  • they live in the household
  • they aren’t the tenant or the tenant’s partner
  • they provide constant care to the tenant
  • they provide proof of the caring arrangement to Housing SA

Housing SA only considers 1 person in the household to be caring for the tenant when calculating rent.

Proof of the caring arrangement is either:

  • a letter from a health professional stating who’s providing care, who’s receiving care, and confirming the carer provides constant care
  • a letter from Centrelink confirming the caring arrangement

Housing SA may ask for proof of the caring arrangement at any time.

Adults with minimal or no income

If an adult in the household has minimal or no income, Housing SA calculates rent based on the maximum amount of income they’d otherwise be eligible for from Centrelink.

If another occupant in the household is a sponsored migrant, Housing SA calculates rent based on any income they receive, not the income they’d otherwise be eligible for from Centrelink.

Housing SA calculates rent based on 19.5% of the total assessable household income before tax if all the below apply:

  • the property is public or Aboriginal housing
  • the tenant is aged 21 or younger
  • their total assessable household income before tax is less than Centrelink’s single JobSeeker payment rate

This can include, but isn’t limited to, when the tenant is eligible for Centrelink’s Youth Allowance payment and is the only person living in the household.

Fluctuating income

If someone living in the household has a fluctuating income, for example casual wages, Housing SA averages their total assessable income before tax across 12 weeks.

Reviewing rent

Housing SA may review and change the rent the tenant pays.

Market rent review

Market rents are reviewed each year, or as often as required.

If the State Valuer General’s annual review increases the property’s rental value, the market rent incrementally increases in line with this policy until the new market rent amount has been reached.

If the State Valuer General’s annual review decreases the property’s rental value, the market rent remains the same.

Housing SA may decrease a market rent if the State Valuer General decreases a property’s rental value because of an error, for example the assessment was based on incorrect property details.

Subsidised rent review

Subsidised rents are reviewed twice a year, and whenever a tenant’s household income changes.

Housing SA may review the subsidised rent because of an error.

Incrementally increasing rent

Rent may increase incrementally until the assessed rent amount is reached in any of the below circumstances:

  • the tenant pays market rent and the State Valuer General increases the property’s rental value
  • the tenant pays market rent and it increases because it was set incorrectly at a lower amount, for example the property’s details were incorrect
  • the tenant pays market rent and Housing SA relocates them to a property with a higher market rent in line with the Relocations policy
  • the tenant receives the 2011 Allowance

In these cases, rent increases incrementally once every 6 months by either:

  • $10 per week for public housing
  • $5 per week for Aboriginal housing or housing in an Aboriginal community

Cottage flats

From 20 October 2018 subsidised rents in cottage flats increase from:

  • 19% of the tenant’s total assessable household income before tax for a bedsit flat with no separate bedroom
  • 21% of the tenant’s total assessable household income before tax for a one bedroom flat

Rents increases by:

  • 1.5% of the tenant’s total assessable household income before tax in November 2018 and again in November 2019
  • 1% of the tenant’s total assessable household income before tax twice a year in line with subsidised rent reviews in late 2020 to late 2021

Increases occur until the subsidised rent in the cottage flat is 25% of the tenant’s total assessable household income before tax.

Increases aren’t more than $10 per week, unless there is a change in the tenant’s household income.

If there is a change in the tenant’s household income, rent is assessed at the rate that applied at the most recent increase.

Progressive Purchase Scheme

Housing SA calculates rent for tenants who participate in the Progressive Purchase Scheme based on:

  • the total assessable household income before tax
  • the portion of the property the South Australian Housing Trust owns
  • Housing SA’s reduced maintenance responsibility

Incomplete or incorrect information

Housing SA investigates if it suspects a tenant has withheld or provided incorrect information about their household or household income.

If a tenant receives a subsidised rent based on incomplete or incorrect information, their rent is immediately recalculated. They’re charged the difference between the subsidised rent they were paying, and the correct amount of rent they should have been paying for the period of time they were incorrectly charged.

Housing SA may also:

Related information

Controlling documents

This policy is based on and complies with:

Supporting procedures

  • Rent procedures v3
  • Income Confirmation Service procedures v2
  • Overclaimed subsidised rent guideline v1

Related policies and other documents

Date this policy applies from

14 April 2020

Version number

3

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