TENANT HANDBOOK LIVING LOCAL BUILDING COMMUNITIES

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1 TENANT HANDBOOK 2014 LIVING LOCAL BUILDING COMMUNITIES

2 WELCOME TO CITY WEST HOUSING 20 Celebrating 20years years PROVIDING AFFORDABLE HOUSING City West Housing (CWH) provides rental accommodation for very low, low and moderate income earners who are unable to find secure, long term and affordable housing in the City of Sydney Local Government Area. 2 CWH 2014 TENANCY HANDBOOK

3 CONTENTS ABOUT US 5 Our mission 6 Our teams 6 Our service promise 6 Contact us 7 YOUR TENANCY 8 Your Residential Tenancy Agreement 8 Your premises 8 Your rent 9 How to pay your rent 10 Rent review 10 Changes in household circumstances 11 Your rights 12 Your obligations 12 Ending your tenancy 13 Visitors and relatives 13 Neighbour disputes and nuisances 14 Pets 14 Subletting 15 Going away? 15 Tenant participation group 15 Complaints and appeals 16 YOUR HOME 18 Looking after your home 18 Property inspections 18 Repairs and maintenance 19 Information about your property 20 Modifications to the property 22 Alterations and decorations 22 Installation of Foxtel and air conditioning 22 Common and shared areas 22 Security 22 Pest control 23 Parking 23 Safety hints 23 SERVICE DIRECTORY 24 Emergency telephone numbers 24 Gas and electricity suppliers 24 Community Centres 25 Tenant advice and advocacy services 25 Centrelink 26 Furniture, food and bills assistance 26 Council collection of furniture, white goods etc. 26 CWH 2014 TENANCY HANDBOOK 3

4 4 CWH 2014 TENANCY HANDBOOK City West Housing was established in 1994 with a charter to provide long term secure Affordable Housing for rent to people on low to moderate incomes

5 ABOUT US WHO WE ARE City West Housing was established in 1994 with a charter to provide long term secure Affordable Housing for rent in Ultimo/Pyrmont to people on low to moderate incomes. As a result of it s initial success City West Housing was invited to expand its operations to the Green Square area of South Sydney and then in 2009 through changes to the local planning instruments undertook a further expansion of its boundaries to encompass the whole of the City of Sydney local government area. This tenant handbook has been written to assist tenants with information on our service. Please keep it as it will be helpful at different times during your tenancy. Our policies and procedures may change over time to reflect the needs of the business and our tenants. CWH is a not-for-profit, community based organisation and is managed by an independent Board of Directors with a team of staff responsible for the daily operations. For more information please refer our Annual Report available at CWH 2014 TENANCY HANDBOOK 5

6 OUR MISSION Our mission is to be an independent and accountable housing organisation providing an efficient and effective, affordable and appropriate rental housing service for very low, low and moderate income earners. City West Housing aims to provide you with a quality service and as a tenant; you have the right to receive a high standard of housing management from us. OUR TEAMS OUR SERVICE PROMISE City West Housing will do our best to Treat you fairly Keep you fully informed Respond as soon as possible Be helpful and polite Listen to what you have to say We are committed to encouraging social inclusion, community celebration and tenant involvement. CWH has well developed expertise as a property developer as well as manager of its properties. Our Development Management team purchases land, contracts design consultants to design appropriate accommodation and tenders the contract to build. Our Tenancy Services Team allocate the units and manage your tenancies including payment of rents, managing arrears and transfer requests. The Asset Team manage maintenance and repair issues and also manage building upgrade works. These areas are supported by the Finance Team and guided by our Chief Executive Officer. 6 CWH 2014 TENANCY HANDBOOK

7 CONTACT US /56 Harris Street Pyrmont NSW citywesthousingresidentspage We are open weekdays 8am - 4pm To make an appointment to meet with your Tenancy Services Coordinator please phone CWH 2014 TENANCY HANDBOOK 7

8 YOUR TENANCY YOUR RESIDENTIAL TENANCY AGREEMENT The Residential Tenancy Agreement is a contract between you and City West Housing. The Tenancy Agreement contains a range of rights and responsibilities for both the tenant and the landlord. Refer to your Residential Tenancy Agreement for details. YOUR PREMISES A Residential Premises Condition Report is part of your Residential Tenancy Agreement. It is proof of the condition of the property at the start of your tenancy. Keep one copy as you will need it when you move out as it will be used to assess the condition of the property at the end of your tenancy. You are responsible for taking care of the property and leaving it in a similar condition to when you moved in, except for fair wear and tear. Please note: If there is damage to the property that CWH deems to be tenant damage you may be liable for the cost of repairs and make good. We will conduct a routine inspection of the property within the first 3 months of your tenancy and then generally once or twice a year. If you have an issue in the interim please call us. 8 CWH 2014 TENANCY HANDBOOK

9 YOUR RENT Determining market rent The market rent for your property will be determined by City West Housing and/or an independent valuation. Market rent is the maximum rent payable for each property. Rent rebate The rent rebate is the difference between the market rent and the rent you pay (please refer to the CWH Rent Policy for further information). To receive a rent rebate you need to provide details of your gross household income and details of all occupants including children. Without this information CWH will not be able to assess the amount of rent rebate you would be eligible for. Water use Difficulty paying your rent We understand that things may happen from time to time that affect your ability to pay your rent. However, not paying your rent will put your tenancy at risk. Please contact your Tenancy Services Coordinator immediately if you are having financial difficulties. Your Tenancy Services Coordinator will be able to Discuss your rent account with you Offer advice Help you to enter into a payment plan to help you pay off any arrears Refer you to a professional Financial Counselling service Please refer to the CWH Rent Policy for more details. If your property has a separate water meter you will be charged for the water you use. The meter reading at the start of your tenancy is shown on your Residential Tenancy Agreement Condition Report. You will be billed quarterly for water usage. Please report leaking taps as soon as you notice them to avoid extra water usage. CWH 2014 TENANCY HANDBOOK 9

10 HOW TO PAY YOUR RENT There are several options on ways to pay your rent Internet banking Please pay your rent into the following account Account Name City West Housing Bank Commonwealth Bank BSB Account No Please remember to put your AGENT NUMBER on your payment (you can find this on your Residential Tenancy Agreement). Centrepay Centrepay means that your rent gets paid direct to City West Housing from your Centrelink benefit each fortnight. We have forms at our office to assist you with this or you can phone the numbers below to arrange for your rent payment to be started, changed or cancelled: Newstart/Employment Family/Parenting Disability/Sickness/Carer Age Pension/Retirement Youth and Student ABSTUDY Deposit books Deposit your rent at any Commonwealth Bank with your own Agent Number which is in the deposit book supplied by City West Housing. Please note that we do not accept cash payments. RENT REVIEW CWH will conduct a rent review at least once a year and require tenants to provide accurate and up-to-date information about their household income. Providing false or misleading information is an offence and a serious breach of your Tenancy Agreement with CWH. You must notify us with 14 days of any changes to your household income during your tenancy to enable us to reassess your rebate. Failure to comply may put your tenancy at risk of termination. 10 CWH 2014 TENANCY HANDBOOK

11 CHANGES IN HOUSEHOLD CIRCUMSTANCES CWH understands that people s circumstances change and that sometimes this means your housing is no longer suitable for you. If there is a change if your household composition you may apply for a transfer. However, availability of properties for transfer is limited due to our extensive waiting list. Likewise, if City West Housing believes your property is no longer suitable due to decreased occupancy you may be listed for transfer to more suitable accommodation. If there are changes to your household you must notify CWH ASAP and provide the following documentation. CHANGES IN CIRCUMSTANCES A household member stops working A household member begins work / starts a new job There is a new household member (this includes a new baby) A household member leaves A household member s work hours or pay rate changes A Centrelink benefit changes for any reason A child turning 18 INFORMATION TO BE PROVIDED TO CITY WEST HOUSING A separation certificate or a letter from their employer and confirmation of their new income e.g. Centrelink Income Statement 2x Wage slips and evidence of their employment start date Proof of their income (such as wage slips or an income statement from Centrelink) or a Birth Certificate Documentation of alternative housing Wage slips confirming new hours or rate An up to date Income Statement Proof of their income such as wage slips or an Income Statement from Centrelink Don t forget to update your records with CWH when you change your telephone, mobile, , etc. CWH 2014 TENANCY HANDBOOK 11

12 YOUR RIGHTS City West Housing is committed to the fair and equal treatment of all tenants. As a tenant, you have the right to Be treated with respect and in a fair and nondiscriminatory way To be given a copy of the Residential Tenancy Agreement and a condition report completed by CWH To have premises rented to you that have reasonable locks and security and which are in a reasonable state of cleanliness Be consulted about your housing needs and any changes to the way your tenancy is managed Have your personal information treated as confidential and private and have access to your information Be offered at least one means of paying rent for which you do not incur a cost To be given 60 days written notice of a rent increase Have quiet enjoyment and use of the premises as well as reasonable peace, comfort and privacy Have reasonable repairs and maintenance completed in a timely manner Be given written notice of a decision by CWH to end the tenancy agreement Not be unlawfully evicted Lodge a complaint or appeal if you are dissatisfied about the service or decisions made by CWH 12 CWH 2014 TENANCY HANDBOOK

13 YOUR OBLIGATIONS As a tenant, you are required to Fully comply with all conditions of your lease including but not limited to those relating to occupant numbers and the keeping of pets Pay rent on time Report the need for any repairs or maintenance and to pay for any damage caused by you or your guests Not make alterations or additions (including altering, removing or adding a lock or security device) without permission from CWH Not use or permit the premises to be used for an illegal purpose Not cause or permit a nuisance or interfere with the peace, comfort or privacy of neighbours Give at least 21 days written notice to vacate your property Leave the premises in a similar condition from when you commenced your tenancy, except for normal wear and tear ENDING YOUR TENANCY Under your Residential Tenancy Agreement you must give 21 days written notice when you wish to vacate. If you cannot provide 21 days notice please contact us as soon as possible to discuss your situation. If no notice is given and there are no exceptional circumstances you will be charged rent to the end of the 21 day period. We can provide an Ending Your Tenancy Checklist (also available on our website) which outlines your obligations when vacating a CWH tenancy. VISITORS AND RELATIVES City West Housing understands that you may wish to have guests and family stay with you from time to time. You need to contact us if a guest intends to stay for more than 12 days in any 28 day period. Your Residential Tenancy Agreement states how many occupants can reside in your home. Should this change you need to let us know immediately. You are responsible for the behaviour of any family members (including children), visitors and guests that are visiting your property. Please remember to inform your guests to respect neighbours rights to quiet enjoyment and whilst in the common areas to keep noise to a minimum. CWH 2014 TENANCY HANDBOOK 13

14 NEIGHBOUR DISPUTES AND NUISANCES Most of our homes are very close together and have shared common areas, such as lifts, foyers and stairwells. Some homes cater for families and some for single people of different ages and backgrounds. In these circumstances a certain amount of noise should be expected. This is why we ask that all our tenants, their family and guests are considerate to the people living around them. Tenants must follow the guidelines for nuisance and annoyance conditions under their Residential Tenancy Agreement. If a problem does occur you can try and solve the problem by raising the issue with the neighbour. Your neighbour may not be aware that they are disturbing you and you could find a solution without the need to involve other people. If the problem continues or you do not wish to speak to your neighbour about the issue please speak to your Tenancy Services Coordinator. Your Tenancy Services Coordinator can also refer you and your neighbour to a local Community Justice Centre where a trained mediator may be able to resolve the dispute. The central contact number for Community Justice Centres is If at any time you have concerns regarding your safety or well-being you should contact the police. PETS Pets are not permitted unless they are a micro chipped registered companion animal, approval has been granted by CWH and the property complies with Council requirements. Please refer to the CWH Pet Policy for more information. 14 CWH 2014 TENANCY HANDBOOK

15 SUBLETTING Only tenant(s) not occupants are on front page of lease. It is strictly forbidden to sublet your home. Subletting is where you allow another person to live in the whole or part of your home and charge them rent. If you are found to be subletting your home CWH will apply to the NCAT to terminate your tenancy. GOING AWAY? If the main tenant is planning to be away from the home for more than 6 weeks you need to advise your Tenancy Services Coordinator. CWH must approve the tenant s absence even if other members of your family remain at home. TENANT PARTICIPATION GROUP CWH seeks to encourage and support the development of tenant participation as a way of strengthening the organisation and building communities. We have developed a Tenant Participation Group (TPG) and the role of the TPG is to act as a platform for tenant members to raise broad issues in relation to tenancy, to develop tenant participation and to encourage and support CWH tenants. Please contact your Tenancy Services Coordinator to find out how you can get involved. We ask that you provide us with an emergency contact number so that we can get in touch with you in case of an emergency while you are away. Rent must still be paid for the period you are away from your home. Please see the CWH Absences From The Dwelling Policy for more information. CWH 2014 TENANCY HANDBOOK 15

16 COMPLAINTS AND APPEALS City West Housing aims to provide you with quality housing services and we value your feedback. If you have a question or concern about the quality of our service please let us know so we can resolve the issue. If you are unhappy or dissatisfied with the service you receive from City West Housing at any time you can either Lodge a complaint if you are concerned about the service you have received from CWH Lodge an appeal if you disagree with a decision CWH has made regarding your tenancy or application. The processes for managing complaints and appeals are slightly different. Please contact us if you need help deciding whether an issue is a complaint or a decision you wish to appeal. 16 CWH 2014 TENANCY HANDBOOK

17 Complaints We encourage you in the first instance to discuss the problem with your Tenancy Services Coordinator so that we can try and resolve the issue quickly. If you are not comfortable talking with your Tenancy Services Coordinator or you have tried and are dissatisfied with the outcome you can contact the Tenancy Services Manager, who will investigate the complaint. Complaints will be acknowledged, investigated and responded to within 7 days. If you are still not satisfied with the outcome of your complaint you can refer your complaint to the Complaints Manager. Formal complaints must be lodged in writing addressed to the Complaints Manager. You will receive a written acknowledgement within 7 days and the investigation and resolution process will take no longer than 28 days. Please refer to the CWH Complaints and Appeals Policy for more information. Appeals If you disagree with a decision made by City West Housing, you have the right to lodge an appeal. The types of decisions that can be appealed include Rent subsidy assessment Application for housing transfer Absence from a dwelling If you are not satisfied with the original decision made by CWH, you have the right to request in writing that the decision be reviewed by the CWH Appeals Manager. The Chief Executive Officer will make the final decision on all internal appeals. You will be advised in writing of the outcome of this appeal within 7 days. If you remain dissatisfied with the outcome of the internal appeal, you can access the independent appeals process via the NSW Housing Appeals Committee (HAC) or contact the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NCAT). Please refer to the CWH Complaints and Appeals Policy for more information. CWH 2014 TENANCY HANDBOOK 17

18 YOUR HOME LOOKING AFTER YOUR HOME Both the tenant and City West Housing have certain obligations to maintain the property. The Tenant must Keep their home in a reasonable state of cleanliness Notify CWH immediately of any damage to the property Provide access to the home for repairs and maintenance as required Not cause damage to the property (intentionally or through neglect) Leave the property in a similar condition to when you moved in (except for fair wear and tear) PROPERTY INSPECTIONS Under your Residential Tenancy Agreement CWH has the right to inspect your property up to 4 times per year. When an inspection is required we will give you a minimum of 7 days notice. These inspections help us keep the property in good order. A mandatory inspection takes place at the end of your tenancy. City West Housing will Provide a safe, clean and habitable property Maintain and repair the property to a reasonable standard throughout the tenancy 18 CWH 2014 TENANCY HANDBOOK

19 REPAIRS AND MAINTENANCE If you have a repair or maintenance problem please report it as soon as possible to CWH so we can arrange for repairs. Timeframes As per the Residential Tenancy Act (2010) repairs are categorised as follows Our tradespeople will call and make an appointment with you before they arrive to do planned works. All CWH tradespeople carry appropriate identification. Please ensure you provide your correct contact details and advise CWH of any updates. Missed trade appointments may incur a tenant charge. CWH has a 24 hour telephone answering service. Please call for urgent repairs outside of business hours. REPAIRS URGENT REPAIRS will be attended to within 4 hours - Sewerage blockage - Burst water pipe - Serious roof leak, gas leak, dangerous electrical fault NON-URGENT REPAIRS within 7 days - Oven failure - Leaking tap - Broken door handle PLEASE NOTE if you call the out of hours urgent help line and your repair is not deemed to be an urgent repair you may be charged for the repair and the cost of the out of hours contractor call out fee. Refer to the CWH Repairs and Maintenance Policy for further information. CWH 2014 TENANCY HANDBOOK 19

20 Problems City West Housing undertakes maintenance audits, to ensure work has been completed and that you are satisfied. If you have any problems with tradespeople or the quality of repairs please let us know. In the instance where you believe a suitable response has not been provided you have the right to make a complaint or lodge an appeal. Please refer to the CWH Complaints and Appeals Policy. Damage If you break or damage any fixture, fitting or other part of the property, you may be responsible for its repair or replacement. You can request CWH to undertake the repair and you may be charged for the cost. INFORMATION ABOUT YOUR PROPERTY Garbage You are not charged for the normal weekly garbage collection using the Council bins. Please sort your garbage and use the garbage and recycling bins accordingly. Please contact the CWH Maintenance Coordinator for details about Council collection of hard garbage such as furniture, white goods, etc. Electricity You are responsible for the cost of connection and use of electricity. Any faults with the wiring or the meter are our responsibility. The electricity mains switch The electricity mains switch and fuses are generally located in a cupboard in your kitchen. If the power or lights stop working, the first thing to check is whether one of these switches is in the off position. If a switch is in the off position, ensure that a faulty appliance is not causing the fault. If the fault is not caused by an appliance contact CWH to organise a repair. 20 CWH 2014 TENANCY HANDBOOK

21 Gas You are responsible for the cost of connection and use of gas. Any faults with the gas pipes are our responsibility. Contact your utility provider for queries regarding meters. Telephone You are responsible for the costs of all phone calls and for line and handset rental charges and phone calls to your property. Household contents insurance We insure for the property itself, but you are responsible for insuring your own possessions (furniture, jewellery, clothes, pictures etc.) against fire, theft and/or other damage. We advise you to take out a Home Contents Insurance policy. This is to insure your personal belongings (clothes, books, toys) furniture and furnishings (bed linen, pictures) against damage or loss due to water, fire or burglary. Keys Tenants are responsible for the keys to their properties. You will receive keys to all the external doors, security screen doors, window locks, and internal and garage doors (where applicable). You are responsible for the cost of cutting extra sets of keys. Please note: If you lose your keys or lock yourself out of your home you will need to contact CWH to arrange for a CWH endorsed locksmith to provide keys. You must not replace any locks without CWH approval. Smoke detectors It is law in NSW for all new premises and rental properties to be fitted with smoke detectors. Please do not damage or remove these from the ceiling. We inspect the smoke detectors in our properties once a year to make sure they are functioning. The batteries are generally changed during this inspection. However, if your smoke alarm starts to beep at regular intervals this may mean that the battery needs to be replaced. If you hear a fire alarm, evacuate and call 000 before calling CWH. CWH 2014 TENANCY HANDBOOK 21

22 MODIFICATIONS TO THE PROPERTY City West Housing understands that tenants property needs can change due to reasons of ill-health or disability. Where possible and reasonable CWH will seek to modify a tenants existing property to meet changed needs or circumstances. All requests for property modifications will be assessed on a case by case basis. ALTERATIONS AND DECORATIONS You must have permission in writing from CWH before you install anything, make any alterations or additions or carry out any painting or decorating. Any changes made without approval will need to be made good at your expense. INSTALLATION OF FOXTEL AND AIR CONDITIONING CWH does not allow Foxtel or air conditioning installations. COMMON AND SHARED AREAS It is one of the conditions of your tenancy that tenants keep the common areas tidy and free from obstruction. Common areas include: Entrance foyers Stairways and landings Shared gardens Garbage areas Parking spaces Stairways and landings are not to be used for storage of any kind. SECURITY Never allow access to the building to anyone who you do not know as a tenant of that building. This is particularly important when using the intercom. Do not prop open doors, even for a short period of time. Please never attach your address to your house keys as this could cause a security problem if you lose your keys. 22 CWH 2014 TENANCY HANDBOOK

23 PEST CONTROL To help prevent pests (e.g. mice and cockroaches) in your home, make sure that: SAFETY HINTS You can make your home safer and limit the risk of fire by taking some basic precautions: Food is kept in air-tight containers or wrapped and stored carefully Bench tops and floors are kept clean and free of items of food CWH will conduct pest maintenance treatments (spraying) in common areas annually. Tenants will have the opportunity to utilise the services of our contractor to have their individual premises treated (at the tenant s expense) at the same time. PARKING Parking spaces are only allocated to the tenants living in each particular building. There is a wait list for parking in most of our buildings. To ensure we allocate parking on a needs basis we will conduct a regular parking review. CWH will ask tenants with a parking permit to provide their documentation annually for reassessment. Any tenant found providing access to parking areas to non-authorised people will have their parking privilege revoked. Please contact the City of Sydney Council for information on a resident parking permit for street parking. Call 000 if there is a fire Do not leave pans unattended while cooking on the stove Never put water on a chip pan fire Turn off power points when not using them Remember to turn heaters off at night Don t put anything too close to a heater Before leaving your room or home extinguish candles or any open flames Keep matches and lighters out of childrens reach Make sure that everyone is aware of all fire exits and that you have a family escape plan Respect tradespeople attending your property Penalties will apply if you do not advise us you are unable to keep a maintenance appointment Obey signage and barriers when building works are in process Please be mindful of the elderly and tenants safety and advise of any issues CWH 2014 TENANCY HANDBOOK 23

24 SERVICE DIRECTORY Emergency telephone numbers Emergencies or crime in progress Police Assistance Line/General enquiries Crime Stoppers (free call) Lifeline Gas and electricity suppliers Energy Australia connections Emergencies AGL connections Gas leaks emergencies Sydney Water emergencies Energy & Water Ombudsman NSW CWH 2014 TENANCY HANDBOOK

25 Community Centres City of Sydney Council Harris Community Centre (Ultimo) Pyrmont Community Centre Ultimo Community Centre South East Neighbourhood Centre (Eastlakes) Australian Chinese Community Association Tenant advice and advocacy services Tenants Advice Line Combined Pensioner and Superannuation Association Aboriginal Tenants Advice and Advocacy Services NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal NSW Housing Appeals Committee Fair Trading CWH 2014 TENANCY HANDBOOK 25

26 Centrelink Information/appointments Multi-lingual information line Community Justice Centre Mediation is free, voluntary and confidential Furniture, food and bills assistance St Vincent de Paul (State Head Office) List of Local Offices... Salvation Army... Salvo Care Line Council collection of furniture, white goods etc. Please contact the CWH Maintenance Coordinator for details about council collection CWH 2014 TENANCY HANDBOOK

27 This Tenant Handbook has been printed on paper manufactured entirely from waste paper. Made in a facility that uses chlorine free pulps; thereby helping to reduce harmful by-products. CWH 2014 TENANCY HANDBOOK 27

28 2/56 Harris Street Pyrmont NSW 2009 p f e

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