The Victorian government provides limited public housing for people on low incomes.
The department that manages public housing in Victoria is Department of Health & Human Services (DHHS).
The landlord for public housing tenants is the Director of Housing.
The law is the same for public housing tenants and private residential tenants, but some of the steps are different.
If you live in public housing, your rent won’t be more than a quarter of your household income.
Under the tenancy law in Victoria, rent is defined as ‘the amount paid to a landlord by a tenant to occupy rented premises and use facilities and services’.
In public housing, rent has two different meanings:
Market rent is the rent that you would pay for the property if it was available in the private rental market. The market rent for each property is set by an independent valuer.
However, many public tenants receive a rebate to the market rent. A rebate is an amount taken off or deducted from the market rent to make the rent more affordable.
The rebated rent is calculated as a proportion of total household income based on the income of all members in the household.
To determine the rebated rent, three types of income are considered. These are:
Rebated rent is basically calculated as 25% of the household’s base income plus 15% of any concessionally-treated income.
In public housing, the market rent is assessed every 12 months.
If your market rent increases, you should receive proper notice of the rent increase. If you believe that the increase makes your market rent excessive (ie too high), you can apply to the Director of Consumer Affairs Victoria for a rent assessment. One of things they can consider is if the home is in good condition or if it needs repair.
The rebated rent is set twice a year based on the household income at that time and is fixed for up to 26 weeks (even if household income increases between assessments).
However, if the household income goes down between assessments then tenants can apply to have their rebated rent reduced.
Each time your rebated rent is assessed, you will receive a letter from the Director of Housing asking you to confirm your household income.
It is very important for you to check this letter carefully. You need to make sure that all the details are up to date and correct. If the income details are not correct you should contact your local housing office as soon as possible to have the details corrected.
You may be required to attend your local housing office to provide confirmation and evidence of your income for each assessment.
It is important that you respond to any request from the Director of Housing to confirm your income details. If the Director of Housing does not receive confirmation of your income, you may have your rebate withdrawn, fall into rent arrears and end up being evicted.
If you receive income from Centrelink you can sign up for the income confirmation service. This means that your income information goes directly from Centrelink to the Director of Housing. Each time your pension or benefit changes that information is passed on to the Director of Housing to ensure that they have the correct income details when they do the rebated rent assessment.
There are a number of different polices that effect how income is treated and how your rebated rent is calculated. If you do not think the Director of Housing has calculated your rebated rent correctly you can contact us.
If you think that the Director of Housing hasn’t calculated your rent correctly you should start by trying to resolve the issue with your local housing office. If you reach an agreement with the local housing office you should ask them to confirm the agreement in writing for you.
If you cannot resolve the issue with your local housing office, you can then make a formal complaint.
It is free to make a complaint and you can do so in person at your local housing office, in writing, or by telephone. See Feedback, complaints and appeals (HOUSING.vic.gov.au).
The Director of Housing also has an internal appeals process. You can apply for an internal appeal if you think that the Director of Housing has not applied their policy and procedures properly, or if you think they have made a mistake in calculating your rebated rent.
In addition to a rent rebate, you may be eligible for a rent subsidy under some circumstances such as the following:
If you think you may be entitled to a rent subsidy you should contact your local office (DHHS website).
Public housing – Victorian Government website for public housing tenants (HOUSING.vic.gov.au).
Appeals – Appealing a public housing decision (HOUSING.vic.gov.au).
Complaints – Complaints and feedback (DHHS website).