More of Queensland’s most vulnerable households could gain access to public housing, as the Government tightens up rules that allowed some tenants to pay less than 10% of their income in rent.
Housing Minister Tim Mander said the changes would allow the Government to direct more money to help families, as part of the Government’s strong plan to make the system fairer and create a brighter future for tenants.
“Under Labor, more than 30,000 households were languishing on the waiting list. Over the past two years we’ve brought that down by almost 40% to around 19,000 but there is still plenty of work to do and these changes will help,” he said.
“Since 2005 public housing tenants have been required to pay 25% of assessable household income in rent, but unfortunately the former Labor government created some bizarre rules which said certain kinds of income weren’t really income.”
“Because of these exemptions, some households were left paying a far higher rate than others.”
Under the old rules, payments like Family Tax Benefit Part A or child support payments were only assessed at 15%, instead of the full 25%. Other payments, like Family Tax Benefit Part B and the Large Family Supplement were not assessed at all.
Mr Mander said the old rules were completely unfair because they meant tenants paid different rates of rent depending on where their income came from.
“On one hand we had people receiving hundreds of dollars each week off the books, and on the other we had people on the Aged Pension or singles working low-income jobs who weren’t getting the same privilege.
“On top of that it was costing around $100 million on foregone rent, money that should be going back into public housing to revitalise frontline services and help more families.”
Mr Mander said under the new rules, everyone would have their rent calculated in the same way.
“At the end of the day, income is income, and we need to make sure the system is fair for everyone,” he said.
Tenants will still pay no more than 25% of income in rent and a cap of $7.50 per week will be placed on any rental increase as a result of the new policy, to ensure tenants don’t get a nasty surprise at their next rent review.
“While there are people out there who are paying significantly less than they would be if they were paying the full 25%, we know that any change will have to be managed carefully so people have time to adjust,” Mr Mander said.
Extra rent collected through these changes will be put to use providing a brighter future for other vulnerable Queenslanders.
– There are approximately 55,000 households living in government managed public housing in Queensland.
– Average public housing rent is $126 per week.
– Median private market rent $359 per week.
– On average, public housing tenancies are subsidised by almost $8000 per year.
Audio is available at: https://soundcloud.com/timmandermp/rent-policy/s-iztpv