The priority given to an application for public rental accommodation is determined by a weighted measure of factors related to housing need. The factors used to determine need are Adequacy; Affordability; Appropriateness. Consideration is also given under Exceptional Need. Points are awarded under the three factors as required based on the applicant’s current housing situation and relevant associated issues.
Factor 1 – Adequacy
The aim of assessing housing adequacy is to recognise the importance of an appropriate standard of housing and to ensure that applicants living in different accommodation types have equitable access to public housing. The Adequacy factor includes those who have no or substandard accommodation, those who are in short or medium term transitional accommodation and those who’s medium to long term secure accommodation does not have appropriate amenity or space.
Adequacy is defined as the extent to which an applicant's current housing arrangements are considered suitable. This is achieved by assessing the applicant's current accommodation against:
- Tenure Form – incorporating Living Conditions and Insecurity of Tenure; and
- Bedrooms Short - the number of bedrooms required for the household.
Factor 2 – Affordability
The aim of assessing housing affordability is to recognise financial hardship due to excessive accommodation costs and to encourage applicants to access Centrelink rent assistance where applicable.
Affordability is defined as the extent to which the price of current accommodation lies within an applicant’s capacity to pay. This is achieved by measuring:
- Rent to Income Ratio – the burden of rent that erodes expendable income;
- Low Income Status – the hardship of survival for people on very low incomes; and
- Cost of Buying Basic Facilities – forced costs associated with having no housing.
Rent to Income
Applicants paying less than 30% of their income in rent will not receive any points under this factor, as this level is considered affordable.
Board paid to recognised boarding houses, rooming houses, family and friends is treated as having rental, food and electricity components. The food component is set at $50 per boarding applicant per week and the electricity component at a flat rate of $20 per boarding household (any size) per week. The calculated rent component is then used to determine the Rent to Income Ratio.
Where an applicant’s income is equivalent to or less than the Youth Allowance living away from home rate, points should be allocated. These points recognise the hardship of survival on very low incomes even where the rent to income ratio is not particularly high.
Cost of Buying Basic Facilities
Where applicants with no accommodation or substandard accommodation do not have the rental costs that other tenure forms carry, it is recognised that there are other costs involved.
Factor 3 – Appropriateness
The aim of assessing appropriateness is to recognise the benefits to the physical, mental and social well-being that housing, as a resource can provide.
Appropriateness is defined as the match between current living conditions and the specialised or particular circumstances of the applicant, recognising that some applicants require accommodation that is tailored to their unique needs.
This is achieved by assessing:
- Family Violence, Sexual Assault/Abuse and Community Violence;
- Requirement for a Modified Environment;
- Requirement for a Stable Environment; and
- Locational Disadvantage.
Assessment can be made up of any combination of the sub factors with the exception of Requirement for a Stable Environment and Family Violence which are mutually exclusive. It is recognised that family violence survivors require a stable environment and assigning maximum Family Violence points accounts for this.
Family Violence recognises that survivors of abuse may often be left in unsafe or short term transitional accommodation.
Confirmation will be required if the client is an applicant for public housing.
Confirmation of Family Violence may come from a number of sources. While legal documents are important, in some cases the commencement of legal action may result in greater personal risk for the client. The expert advice provided by the Victim Safety Response Team (VSRT), Tasmania Police, Family Violence Counselling and Support Service (FVCSS) and other practitioners carries equal weight. For Aboriginal people it is appropriate with their permission, to seek confirmation from alternative sources such as the Aboriginal Legal Service, Aboriginal Health Service or a senior member of the Aboriginal community who is recognised and endorsed by the Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre.
Requirement for a Modified Environment
Requirement for a Modified Environment recognises that the private rental market and some other accommodation options have limited capacity to meet the often specialised requirements of a person with a disability or a chronic health problem.
The assigning of Requirement for a Modified Environment points recognises that the applicant’s current accommodation does not provide suitable features for the applicant or other household members to live independently, with or without support.
Requirement for a Modified Environment is recognised when supported by a Certificate of Functional Ability. The certificate requires the person with a disability/condition to identify the nature and extent of functional impairment caused or made worse by their current accommodation.
Where current accommodation may be detrimental to the applicant’s physical or mental health status, this will be considered as part of the application.
Ill-Health points are assigned where current accommodation is causing or worsening a physical or mental health condition due to draughty or damp accommodation, inadequate heating, overcrowding or the type of building materials used. The expectation is that the condition or disorder will disappear or diminish if the applicant is housed in public housing.
Claims for points under this factor must be supported by a Certificate of Ill-Health completed by a Medical Practitioner or Psychiatric Health Nurse, Psychiatrist or Clinical Psychologist. This form is only available from public housing at the time of assessment.
Requirement for a Stable Environment
This category recognises that some families or individuals have complex or multiple needs, which are being case managed or supervised on an ongoing basis, and where a positive outcome is contingent on the provision of stable housing.
Written documentation from an appropriate service provider must be provided.
If the location of the accommodation creates major difficulties in getting to essential and/or medical facilities, specialised schooling or employment, the applicant may be awarded points. The applicant’s capacity to use public transport and access to other forms of transport is considered in this category.
Offer rejection applies to those applicants who have chosen to unreasonably reject suitable offers of housing. Minus 10 points apply from one unreasonable rejection of an offer. This may change an applicant’s category.
Public rental dwellings are to be offered on the basis of those most in need receiving assistance first.
A grading system is used to ensure that the relative need of applicants is determined in a consistent way, both within and between Service Centres. This system determines relative weighting for each applicant and this weighting will then determine the specific priority category for allocations. The category areas are as follows:
1 Greater than or equal to 35
Applications with less than 10 points are cancelled.
Category 1 is the grouping of applicants with highest priority needs. Allocations of available properties are made to applicants with the highest priority at the time, provided the property meets the applicant’s needs. Applicants will be allocated according to the date they are placed on the waiting list within that category. Applicants placed in Category 1 are generally housed first.
When a property becomes vacant, a short list of eligible applicants on the public housing waitlist is completed. To ensure that appropriate and valid offers are made to applicants the following guidelines are used:
- the available property should be in a location suitable to the applicant in greatest need (according to the shortlisting process);
- there should be sufficient bedrooms to match the family size (according to the Bedroom Entitlements policy);
- the property amenity must be suitable to the household needs e.g. disability or mobility issues.
Once an offer has been made, the property is held for that applicant and is not offered to any other applicant until the first applicant has rejected the offer, or has not responded to the offer. The offer is withdrawn in these situations and offered to another applicant on the waitlist.