MHCC Mental Health Rights Manual

Change font size: SmallerReset textLarger

Part 7 section E: Housing and accommodation

7E.1: Introduction

In Australia, everyone has the right to live somewhere safe and secure, but depending on the type of accommodation you live in, your rights and responsibilities may vary.

This section of the Manual sets out the different types of accommodation that are available, and the rights and responsibilities relating to each type of accommodation. It also provides information about who to contact and where to get help if you want to complain about your accommodation. There is also information about where to get support to live in the community and how to deal with problems in housing or accommodation, such as discrimination, tenancy dispute and problems with neighbours.

In this section of the Manual, you can find out about:

7E.2: our rights if you own your own house, unit or flat

If you own your own home, unit or flat, you have the same rights as other homeowners to privacy, quiet enjoyment, and the use of your own home. You also have the same obligations as other homeowners, such as to keep up with mortgage payments, payment of bills and rates.

7E.3: Your rights as a Renter or tenant

Unless you or your family is the owner of the property you live in, you are a renter or tenant. In general, a tenant is somebody who pays the owner of a property for the right to live in that property for an agreed period. The owner of that property is usually referred to as the landlord.

The following pages can tell you more about:

7E.3.1: Your tenancy status, the laws and your rights

Depending on your tenancy status, different laws apply to you, and your rights and responsibilities also differ. The main laws and regulations on tenancy are:

  • Residential Tenancies Act  2010 (NSW)
  • Residential Tenancies Regulation 2006 (NSW)
  • Residential Parks Act 1998 (NSW)

The Residential Tenancies Act 2010 (NSW) and Residential Tenancies Regulation 2010 (NSW) apply to most residential tenancies in NSW. The rights and responsibilities are generally the same whether you are renting from Housing NSW, Aboriginal Housing Office, a community organisation, a private landlord, or you are a permanent resident in a caravan park. These rights and responsibilities apply even if your tenancy arrangement or lease is based on a spoken agreement rather than a written one.

You are considered to be living in share housing if you are living with relatives, friends or others who own or are renting the place, or you are living in a boarding house or lodging . Depending on the share housing arrangement, your legal status, and therefore, your tenancy rights vary greatly.

If you live with relatives who are parents, brothers, sisters or children, your arrangement may be outside residential tenancy law.

7E.3.2: Your rights as a tenant in New South Wales

The Residential Tenancies Act 2010 (NSW) and Residential Tenancies Regulation 2010 (NSW) apply to most residential tenancies in NSW, including people renting private housing as well as social housing, such as community housing and public housing. The Act and Regulations set out the respective rights of landlords and tenants in the form of a standard tenancy agreement. The Act also gives powers to the Consumer, Trader and Tenancy Tribunal (CTTT) to hear and settle disputes about residential tenancies. Click here for information about CTTT.

Under the Residential Tenancies Act  2010 (NSW), you must be given a copy of the Residential Tenancy Agreement. The agreement should clearly set out your rights and responsibilities as the tenant, and also the rights and obligations of the landlord.

While it is best to have a written agreement, agreements that are in other forms, such as oral, partially written and oral, or in the form of a lodger's licence, can still be recognised as a residential tenancy agreement. Regardless of the form they are in, all Residential Tenancy Agreements must have the effect of the standard form of agreement as prescribed by the Residential Tenancies Act 2010 (NSW).

Sometimes a Residential Tenancy Agreement may have extra terms to those of the standard form of agreement, but these extra terms have no legal effect if they are inconsistent with those in the standard form.

Under the Residential Tenancies Act 2010 (NSW), you also have a right to be given a completed condition report along with your Residential Tenancy Agreement before you move into the property. The condition report details the state of the property, including the level of cleanliness, repairs, and any fixtures, fittings, furniture or appliances.

The standard form for Residential Tenancy Agreement and condition report is available for download on the NSW Fair Trading website, click here to go to the web page.

The Tenants' Union of NSW has a number of useful fact sheets that explains what the NSW law says about specific tenancy issues, these issues include:

  • the law about how rent can be increased;
  • the law on rent arrears – what may happen and what you should do if you are behind on your rent;
  • the law on your and your landlord's obligation in relation to maintenance and repairs;
  • the law on your right to privacy and your landlord's right to enter the premises;
  • the law about tenants database and its use, and a number of other issues.

Click here to go to the Tenants' Union of NSW website to see these fact sheets.

The Residential Tenancies Act 2010 (NSW) recognises the existence of co-tenants. Where the fixed term of the residency agreement has expired, a
co-tenant may cease to be be a co-tenant by giving the landlord and other
co-tenants a written termination notice of at least 21 days and vacating the premises in accordance with that notice.

These provisions aim to deal with the common situation of a co-tenant vacating the premises, although remaining named as a tenant in the residential tenancy agreement, and ptentially incurring a liability under that agreement.

A co-tenant who receives a termination notice from another co-tenant may request a termination order from the NSW Consumer, Trader and Tenancy Tribunal

To contact the NSW Consumer, Trader and Tenancy Tribunal call:

Telephone:  1300 135 399
Fax: 1300 135 247
Email enquiries: ctttenquire@cttt.nsw.gov.au

The NSW Consumer, Trader and Tenancy Tribunal can make a termination if they are satisfied that another co-tenant gave appropriate notice in the special circumstances of the case. This may be of assistance if a landlord or tenant wishes to remove or add locks or other security devises after a tenancy with a co-tenant has terminated. This right also applies to a tenant  or occupant after they are prohibited from access under an aprehended violence order (AVO).

Where a final AVO is made prohibiting a co-tenant from having access, the tenancy of that tenant or co-tenant is automatically terminated. This does not affect the tenancy of any other tenants not subject to the AVO.

7E.3.3: Different rights for social housing tenants

Social housing is generally housing that is subsidised by government, and which is provided to people who might otherwise be denied access to the private rental market. Social housing includes public housing, community housing and Aboriginal housing.

Public housing is provided and managed by Housing NSW, which is part of the NSW Government.

Community housing is provided by community organisations, sometimes along with special facilities and services. There are three main types of community housing: housing associations, co-operatives and church-owned housing.

  • Housing associations are professional not-for-profit housing providers, which often manage rental housing as well as provide other specialist services.
  • Co-operative housing is subsidised by government but is fully managed by the tenants. This means the tenants have real control over their housing.
  • Church-owned housing is provided by churches as a response to the needs in their local communities, and is usually provided using their own resources.

Aboriginal housing is provided through an Indigenous-controlled housing system. These properties are owned by the Aboriginal Housing Office, and are mostly managed by Housing NSW and Aboriginal community-based housing providers.

You must be an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander to be eligible for Aboriginal housing.

While the Residential Tenancies Act 2010 (NSW) and Residential Tenancies Regulation 2010 (NSW) apply to social housing as well as private rental, the rights of people in social housing are not entirely the same as those for people renting privately. For a start, social housing usually has eligibility criteria, such as being on a low income, and having complex housing needs. Also, some parts of the Residential Tenancies Act 2010 (NSW) do not apply to tenants of Housing NSW, and most community housing has its own rules and policies that are separate from tenancy laws.

For general information about social housing and your rights, click here to go to the Tenants' Union of NSW fact sheet on 'Social Housing'.

Housing NSW also provides important information about living in social housing. Click on the links below to go to the relevant web pages:

Living in public housing has information about Housing NSW's obligations as the landlord, and information about the rights and responsibilities of public housing tenants.

Living in Community Housing has information about the rights and responsibilities of community housing tenants.

Housing NSW also has information on housing and related services that are appropriate to the needs of Aboriginal people in NSW, click here for more information.

7E.3.4: Your rights as a tenant in share housing

There are three types of arrangement in share housing: co-tenant; sub-tenant; and boarder or lodger. Your rights are dependant on which arrangement you are in:

Co-tenant: your name and the names of other tenants are on the residential tenancy agreement. You therefore jointly share the rights and responsibilities with the tenants whose names are also on the agreement. You rights are set out by the Residential Tenancies Act 2010 (NSW).

Sub-tenant: your name is not on the agreement, but you are responsible for part of the property (such as your bedroom). The tenant whose name is on the agreement is the head-tenant and is also your landlord. You have the same rights under the Residential Tenancies Act 2010 (NSW) as other tenants have against their landlord.

Boarder or lodger: your name is not on a tenancy agreement. Your landlord has a lot of control over the property, including your room, and usually, there are house rules enforced. Boarders usually receive meals as part of the arrangement, whereas lodgers do not. The residential tenancy law does not apply to you, and you have limited rights and legal protections. For more about your rights click here, click here.

The Tenants' Union of NSW has a fact sheet on 'Share Housing', which deals with issues commonly faced by tenants in share housing arrangements. Click here to read the fact sheet.

7E.3.5: Your rights as a boarder or lodger

The distinction between a tenant and a boarder/lodger is not always clear, but there are big differences in your legal rights. The Residential Tenancies Act 2010 (NSW) applies to tenants but not to boarders and lodgers. At the time of writing this Manual, there is no other tenancy law that applies specifically to boarders and lodgers.

Sometimes, people living in accommodation described as 'boarding houses' or 'lodgings' are actually tenants. The key test is the amount of control the landlord has over the property. You are likely to be a considered a boarder/lodger if:

  • your landlord has access to your room;
  • you get meals, linen, or cleaning as part of the arrangement;
  • you do not have your own cooking facilities;
  • there are house rules enforced on the property.

If you have a dispute with your landlord and you are unsure whether the Residential Tenancies Act 2010 (NSW) applies to you, you can take your dispute to the Consumer, Trader and Tenancy Tribunal (CTTT). If the CTTT decides it can handle the matter, then you are a tenant. If not, then you are a boarder/lodger.Click here for more information about getting your dispute heard by the CTTT .

People with Disability (Australia) provides individual advocacy to people living in boarding houses. Click here for information about how to contact them.

The Tenants' Union of NSW has a fact sheet that addresses issues commonly faced by boarders and lodgers, including information on where to get help about a tenancy dispute. Click here to read the fact sheet.

7E.3.6: Licensed boarding houses

Licensed boarding houses (also called 'licensed residential centres') provide housing to people with disability, including mental illness.

Under the Youth and Community Services Act 1973 (NSW), properties that provide housing to two or more people with disability who need supervision or care are required to be licensed by the Office for Ageing, Disability and Home Care (OADHC) in NSW Human Services. These licenses include conditions relating to the standard of housing and care provided by the licensed boarding houses. The OADHC is responsible for monitoring licensed boarding houses and making sure that they comply with licence conditions.

If you want to make a complaint about a licensed boarding house in NSW, you can contact the Office of Ageing, Disability and Home Care directly by:

Phone: (02) 8270 2000
Teletypewriter (TTY): (02) 8270 2167
E-mail: info@dadhc.nsw.gov.au

You can also contact People with Disability (Australia) (PWD), which has an advocacy team specialising in providing independent advocacy assistance to residents of licensed boarding houses. Click here for more and how to contact PWD.

7E.3.7: Your rights as a residential park tenant

Residential parks include caravan parks, manufactured home estates, and 'mobile home villages'. They often provide long-term accommodation for a significant number of people. Some residents of residential parks own their dwelling but rent the site on which it sits; others rent both the dwelling and the site.

The main laws that apply to residential parks are:

  • Residential Parks Act 1998 (NSW)
  • Residential Parks Regulation 1999 (NSW)

These laws usually apply once you have signed an agreement to rent either the site only, or both the site and dwelling. The laws don't apply if you are renting the site for a holiday, or if it is not your main place of residence.

The next pages have information about:

7E.3.8: What you need to know before signing a Moveable Dwelling agreement (residential park tenants agreement)

The Moveable Dwelling Agreement is the agreement you sign for renting a park-owned dwelling and site, or a site on which you put your moveable dwelling.

Before you sign a Moveable Dwelling Agreement, you are entitled to be given a copy of the agreement to review. This should include the terms of the agreement and a condition report on the premises. Along with these, you must also be given the following information:

  • A copy of the Residential Park Living booklet.
  • The park rules.
  • A list of all fees and charges that you will have to pay once you have signed the agreement.
  • A document explaining that the tenancy may come to an end at some time in the future, for example because of park closure.

There is a list of standard questions that the park owner must answer, and their answers must be provided to you before you sign the agreement. The questions cover issues such as restrictions on the premises, like any restrictions on having visitors or pets, and restrictions on common park facilities; arrangements for energy supply and mail services; any protection for tenants if the park is sold; and any other regulations and restrictions that apply to the park residents (for example, if the residential park is part of a national park). Click here to go to the Fair Trading web page to see the full list of questions.

7E.3.9: Residential park rent increase

The park owner of the residential park in which you are living must give you at least 60 days notice if they want to increase your rent. The notice must be written, and it must show you the new rent amount and the date it takes effect.

If you are within the fixed-term period of agreement, the owner cannot increase your rent unless the agreement includes a term showing the amount and the date the increase takes effect (or if the new amount is not shown, then the precise method to calculate the increase must be shown). The owner must still give you 60 days written notice before the increase takes effect.

If you think the rent increase is too high (for example, if you think there are outstanding repairs that still need to be done and that should be taken into account, or the new rent is a lot higher than similar sites in the park or in other parks), then you should first try and negotiate with the owner.

If the owner agrees to reduce the proposed rent increase, they will issue you with a new notice showing the new amount. The new notice will still take effect on the same date as the date listed on the previous notice.

If the owner does not agree to a smaller rent increase, you can apply to the Consumer, Trader and Tenancy Tribunal (CTTT) for an order that the rent is too high. You must lodge an application with the CTTT within 30 days of receiving the rent increase notice. Click here for more information about the Consumer, Trader and Tenancy Tribunal and how to lodge an application.

7E.3.10: Termination of agreement and park closure

There are different reasons why a Moveable Dwelling Agreement may be terminated by you or your landlord. Depending on whether it is the landlord or the tenant terminating the agreement, the reason for the termination, and whether the agreement is within or after the fixed-term period, the requirements for notice are different.

The Fair Trading website has a fact sheet on the relevant notification requirements and how the notice of termination has to be given for it to be a legally effective notice. Click here to read the fact sheet.

A residential park may be closed if it is to be redeveloped. The amount of notice required in this situation depends on your circumstances:

If you own the moveable dwelling and it has a rigid annex and you are renting the site, the owner must give you at least 12 months written notice to terminate the agreement. The termination notice can only be given if the local government authority (Local Council or Shire) has approved the development application for a change of use of the park. If no development approval is required, the Consumer, Trader and Tenancy Tribunal (CTTT) must have approved the park owner's termination notice before it can be issued). You may apply to the CTTT to challenge the termination or to get compensation for having to relocate. For more information, click here to view the Park and Village Service fact sheet on Park Closure: If you own a manufactured home or a caravan/campervan with a rigid annex and rent the site.

If you own your moveable dwelling and it does not have a rigid annex, or you are renting both the dwelling and the site, the park owner must give you a written termination notice at least 60 days in advance. You can apply to the CTTT to challenge the termination, but you are not eligible for compensation for having to relocate. For more information, click here to view the Park and Village Service fact sheet on Park Closure: If you own a manufactured home consisting of a caravan/campervan that does not have a rigid annex or rent the dwelling and the site.

7E.3.11: Where to get further information and advice

The Park and Village Service can answer questions about all aspects of residential park tenancies. Its website has a number of fact sheets that cover issues specifically related to residential park tenancies, including tenants' rights and responsibilities, fees and charges, park rules and park closures. Click here to visit the Park and Village Service website or phone the Park and Village Service on (02) 9566 1010. (The Park and Village Service is a community organisation.)

The NSW Fair Trading website has useful information about living in residential parks, including the rights of park residents, things to consider before signing up or moving out, where to get help to handle disputes, and the Assistance protocol for residential park closures. Click here to go to the NSW Fair Trading website on residential parks. (NSW Fair Trading is part of the NSW Government.)

7E.4: Your rights as a tenant in crisis accommodation

Crisis accommodation includes refuges, shelters and other short- to medium-term accommodation provided to people who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless. Much of this accommodation is provided by agencies funded under the Supported Accommodation Assistance Program (SAAP). Along with accommodation, these agencies often provide other support services such as health, counselling, and living skills development.

Most residents of crisis accommodation are boarders or lodgers, but depending on the circumstances, some may be tenants under the Residential Tenancies Act 2010 (NSW). Crisis accommodation providers usually have policies about the types of people for whom they will provide accommodation, for example, many refuges will accommodate women and children only. Crisis accommodation services must not unlawfully discriminate against people, including on grounds of mental illness (for more about discrimination, click here ). Crisis accommodation providers usually have house rules that residents must obey; for example, no alcohol on the property, or no visitors to the property.

For information about how to help to find crisis accommodation, click here.

Contact your local Tenants' Advice and Advocacy Service, if you would like information about your rights and responsibilities, or advice about your tenancy status in crisis accommodation. Click here to find you nearest service.

7E.5: Accommodation and rent support

Housing NSW can provide practical as well as financial help to people who are searching or applying for private rental housing.

  • If you need information about private rental housing, click here.
  • If you need financial help with renting, click here.
  • If you need crisis accommodation, click here

7E.5.1: Getting information about private rental housing

Housing NSW has a training package, Rent it Keep it, to help people develop the skills they need to get into the private rental market and to keep their private rental housing. Click here for more information about this.

If you would like to make a direct enquiry, you can contact Housing NSW by:

Phone: 1300 Housing (1300 468 746)*
Phone: 13 14 50 (if you need an interpreter)
Teletypewriter (TTY): 1800 628 310*

Or visit your nearest Housing NSW office. Click here to find your nearest Housing NSW office.

The Tenants' Union of NSW also has a range of fact sheets covering essential information that all tenants should know, including the rights and responsibilities of tenants in different types of accommodation, and how to deal with common tenancy issues, such as repairs and maintenance, and access and privacy. Click here to view the Tenants' Union of NSW fact sheets available.

* Remember, mobile phone calls to freecall numbers (numbers starting with 1800) and to Local call numbers (numbers starting with 1300) are charged to the caller at the usual mobile rate.

7E.5.2: Financial help – Rentstart

Housing NSW may be able to help you through Rentstart if you have found somewhere to rent privately but you need financial help with the bond or advance rent.

In general, you and your household members need to be eligible for Centrelink payments or Family Tax Benefit to be eligible for Rentstart.
Rentstart provides four types of financial help, these are:

  • Rentstart Standard provides partial help with paying the rental bond.
  • Rentstart Plus provides additional financial help for people who are homeless, or facing severe financial barriers to private rental, or severe housing stress. Temporary housing may be provided if you are eligible for Rentstart Plus, but private rental accommodation isn't available.
  • Rentstart Tenancy Assistance provides payment of rent for up to four weeks for eligible people who are facing eviction due to rental arrears.
  • Rentstart Move helps public housing tenants who are moving into private rental at the end of their fixed-term lease.

For information about Rentstart's eligibility criteria or how Rentstart can help, click here to go to the Housing NSW web page. You can also get information by speaking to a Housing NSW staff member:

Phone: 1300 Housing (1300 468 746)*
Phone: 13 14 50 (if you need an interpreter)
Teletypewriter (TTY): 1800 628 310*

Or visit your nearest Housing NSW office. Click here to find your nearest Housing NSW office.

* Remember, mobile phone calls to freecall numbers (numbers starting with 1800) and to Local call numbers (numbers starting with 1300) are charged to the caller at the usual mobile rate.

7E.5.3: Crisis accommodation

The City of Sydney operates the Homeless Persons Information Centre and other services to help homeless people in Sydney find accommodation. Contact the City of Sydney Homeless Persons Information Centre for more information and referrals:

Phone: 1800 234 566 (freecall*)

Housing NSW also provides emergency temporary housing to those who are in housing crisis but require only short-term housing while they make longer-term arrangements. These are usually provided in the form of low-cost hotels, motels, caravan parks, and are provided from one night to a small number of nights. This Housing NSW service can be accessed during office hours:

Phone: 1300 Housing (1300 468 746)*
Phone: 13 14 50 (if you need an interpreter)
Teletypewriter (TTY): 1800 628 310*

Or visit your nearest Housing NSW office. Click here to find your nearest Housing NSW office.

If you need help finding emergency overnight accommodation, you can contact the Housing NSW After-Hours Temporary Accommodation Service, Monday to Friday 4:30 pm – 10:00 pm, and weekends and public holidays 10:00 am – 10:00 pm:

Phone: 1800 152 152 (freecall*)

* Remember, mobile phone calls to freecall numbers (numbers starting with 1800) and to Local call numbers (numbers starting with 1300) are charged to the caller at the usual mobile rate.

7E.6: Home and community care

7E.6.1: What is Home and Community Care (HACC)?

The Home and Community Care (HACC) Program provides a range of support services to frail older people, younger people with disability, and their carers to allow them to remain at home, and to prevent inappropriate or premature admission to residential care. HACC services are provided by a range of separate service providers.

In NSW, the Office of Ageing, Disability and Home Care is responsible the HACC Program, which is jointly funded by the Commonwealth and State governments.

7E.6.2: Who is eligible for Home and Community Care?

  • Frail older people
  • People with disability
  • Their carers

7E.6.3: How much will it cost to get Home and Community Care?

Each HACC service provider has its own policy on fees, but most require a small contribution depending on the person's situation. Special consideration is given to people with limited finances.

A person will never be refused access to HACC services because they are unable to pay.

7E.6.4: How to access Home and Community Care services

There are three ways to access HACC services:

  • Through referral from a general practitioner, other medical practitioner, health or medical services, Commonwealth Carelink Centres and other HACC service providers.
  • Through the local Area Health Service or Aged Care Assessment Team.
  • By contacting HACC service providers direct.

Your eligibility as well as your needs for services will be assessed before you will be able to join the program.

For more information about the HACC program, contact the Office for Ageing, Disability and Home Care:

Phone: (02) 8270 2000
Teletypewriter (TTY): (02) 8270 2167
E-mail: info@dadhc.nsw.gov.au

For more about what services HACC provides, click here.

7E.6.5: What Home and Community Care (HACC) services are available?

If you are eligible for Home and Community Care (HACC) services, these are the services that may be available to you:

  • Domestic assistance: to help with household tasks such as cleaning, dishwashing, clothes washing, ironing, shopping and bill paying.
  • Personal care: to help with daily self-care tasks including bathing, toileting and dressing and prescribed exercise and therapy programs.
  • Respite care: to give carers an opportunity to have a rest or attend to other family responsibilities.
  • Home maintenance and modifications: to provide maintenance, modifications and repairs to homes, gardens and yards to keep them in a safe and habitable condition. This can include doing regular garden upkeep, getting qualified tradespeople to carry out minor home repairs and maintenance, and putting in safety features, such as ramps, support rails in the bathroom, and widening doorways.
  • Transport: to help with shopping and doctor's appointments and may also include transport for you to visit friends and go to social events. Help with transport may be provided either directly or indirectly, for example, through a taxi voucher or subsidies, or brokered through other transport providers.
  • Meals: to help with meeting your daily nutrition requirements through preparation and delivery of meals and other food items. People with special dietary needs for health, religious or cultural reasons can have special meals arranged.
  • Nursing care and case management: to have a trained nurse visit you in your home to improve or maintain your health. This may include teaching you and their carers how to best manage your daily health care in the home environment, clinical assessment of a client, co-ordination of home care services and monitoring of your health status and/or care plan, and direct clinical nursing care.
  • Social support: to meet your need for social contact and to participate in community life.
  • Centre-based day care: to provide group activities to you in a centre-based setting to assist with social interaction.
  • Allied health care: to provide therapeutical services to help you maintain their independence and mobility. Services include physiotherapy, podiatry, speech therapy and occupational therapy.
  • Goods and equipment: to provide for the loan or purchase of goods and equipment that help you with their mobility, communication, personal care and health care.
  • Linen services: to provide and launder your household linen.

7E.7: Housing and Accommodation Support Initiative (HASI)

The Housing and Accommodation Support Initiative (HASI) is a partnership program between the NSW Government and the non-government sector that works to ensure stable housing is linked to specialist support for people with mental illness.

HASI recognises that people with mental illness can experience severe barriers to accessing affordable, safe and secure housing, and that access to appropriate support services are strongly linked to stable housing for people with mental illness.

HASI aims to assist people with mental illness who need accommodation support to:

  • maintain successful tenancies;
  • participate in the community;
  • have better access to support services;
  • experience decreased hospitalisation; and
  • improve overall quality of life.

7E.7.1: What can the Housing and Accommodation Support Initiative (HASI) do?

HASI can provide the following help:

  • accommodation support and rehabilitation associated with your disability, by providing services such as home care, life skills development, and help you with community participation, social and recreational activities;
  • improve your access to clinical mental health care and rehabilitation;
  • long-term, affordable and secure housing, with property and tenancy management services.

7E.7.2: Who is eligible for the Housing and Accommodation Support Initiative (HASI)?

There are three levels of support available: low, high and very high. The eligibility criteria differ for each of these support levels.

Overall, to be eligible for HASI, you need to be:

  • Sixteen years or older
  • Diagnosed with a mental illness
  • Have high levels of psychiatric disability
  • Have a low level of functioning;
  • Have the capacity to benefit from being provided with accommodation support services
  • Have given informed consent to participate in the program.

7E.7.3: How to access the Housing and Accommodation Support Initiative (HASI)

Access to HASI is by referral. The best way to access HASI is to contact your local mental health services and see a mental health practitioner. Click here to find your local mental health services on the NSW Health website.

7E.8: Protected tenants

A very small number of tenants are not covered by the Residential Tenancies Act 2010 (NSW), and are instead covered by the Landlord and Tenant Amendment Act 1948 (NSW). These tenants are often called 'protected tenants' because the Landlord and Tenant Amendment Act 1948 (NSW) contains strong protections against evictions and rent increases. Protected tenants are almost invariably older persons, and their rented premises are old. No new protected tenancies have been created since 1986, although in some instances a protected tenancy may be inherited by another household member.

The law on protected tenancies is complex. You should get advice if you are unsure about whether you are a protected tenant. You can do so by contacting your local Tenants and Advice Advocacy Service.

If you are a protected tenant, you should get advice before vacating or leaving your accommodation temporarily (for example, to go into hospital or a residential treatment facility). Contact one of the following for information about protected tenancies:

Older Persons Tenants' Service
Phone: (02) 9566 1120
Freecall: 1800 131 310*

OR

Your local Tenants Advice and Advocacy Service.

* Remember, mobile phone calls to freecall numbers (numbers starting with 1800) are charged to the caller at the usual mobile rate.

7E.9: Discrimination and accommodation

It is generally against the law to discriminate against a person in relation to housing or accommodation because the person, or an associate of the person (such as a household member) has a disability (including mental illness). Unlawful discrimination could include refusing housing or accommodation to a person, terminating a person's tenancy, or setting different conditions for a person (for example, a higher rent or bond, or a shorter tenancy term) because they have a disability.

There are some instances in which discrimination because of a person's disability is lawful. These include where:

  • it would cause the accommodation provider unjustifiable hardship to accommodate the person (including where the person requires special services and facilities, and it would cause unjustifiable hardship to provide these);
  • the accommodation is provided by a not-for-profit body especially for people with a particular disability that the person does not have; or
  • the accommodation provider (or a relative of the provider) lives in the accommodation, and the accommodation is to be shared with fewer than six people.

There are laws and regulations relating to discrimination in the provision of accommodation under both the Anti-Discrimination Act 1977 (NSW), for which the NSW Anti-Discrimination Board is responsible, and the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (Cth), for which the Australian Human Rights Commission is responsible. Each of these agencies investigates complaints of discrimination and attempts to conciliate between parties.

If you think you have been discriminated against, you should get legal advice. You can get free legal advice about discrimination from a rangeof places. Click here to find out more.

7E.10: Tenancy dispute resolution

The main organisation that deals with disputes about accommodation in NSW is the Consumer, Trader and Tenancy Tribunal (CTTT). The Tribunal is not as formal as courts like the District Court or the Local Court, but its decisions are legally binding and enforceable. It deals with disputes between:

  • landlords and tenants under the Residential Tenancies Act 2010 (NSW)
  • park operators and residents under the Residential Parks Act 1998 (NSW)
  • owners and residents under the Retirement Villages Act 1999 (NSW)

Boarders and lodgers may also be able to have some disputes dealt with by the General Division of the CTTT by making an application under the Consumer Claims Act 1993 (NSW).

At a CTTT hearing, the disputing parties can't be represented by lawyers without the permission of the CTTT. However, landlords are often represented at the CTTT by the real estate agents who are likely to be quite familiar with the process. The CTTT may appoint a representative for people who are unable to represent themselves due to disability or age. Otherwise, you can get legal advice by contacting your nearest Tenants' Advice and Advocacy Service. Click here to find your nearest Tenants Advice and Advocacy Service

For more information about the CTTT and what it does, click here to visit the CTTT website.

The next page has information about how to apply to have your dispute dealt with by the CTTT.

7E.10.1: Applying for your dispute to be dealt with by the Consumer, Trader and Tenancy Tribunal (CTTT)

To lodge your complaint or dispute with the Consumer, Trader and Tenancy Tribunal (CTTT), you need to complete an application form and send it to the CTTT with the required payment. This can be done online, by post, or in person.

To lodge an application online, click here.

If you would like to lodge an application by post or in person, you can download the form at the CTTT website. Click here to go to the CTTT website. Alternatively, you can also get a copy of the form from your local Tenancy Advice and Advocacy Service. Click here to find your nearest Service. The completed form should be sent to your nearest CTTT office. To find the CTTT office nearest to you, refer to page 2 of the application form or click here to go to the CTTT contacts page.

Application fee

Generally, an application costs $34.

The fee may be reduced to $5 if you are a pensioner or on a government benefit, including Austudy and Abstudy. You must provide a copy of the benefit card or Austudy/Abstudy advice.

You can apply for your application to be free if you can prove that paying the fee will cause you hardship.

The fee must be paid with an application, and if you are eligible for a fee concession, copies of the relevant documents must be sent with the application. If the relevant fee and documents are not submitted, your application may be dismissed.

The next page outlines what will happen after you have made your application to the CTTT.

7E.10.2: What happens after you have made an application to the Consumer, Trader and Tenancy Tribunal (CTTT)?

After you have made your application to the CTTT, your dispute is listed for conciliation and hearing. You and the other party should be sent a Notice of Conciliation and Hearing within 14 days, telling you where and when you should attend.

Tenancy matters are usually listed for conciliation first, to see if the disputing parties can come together to discuss the issues and to reach an agreement. If an agreement can be reached, then a consent order will be made on the day without the need for a hearing. If an agreement can't be reached, then the dispute will go to a hearing. For more about the conciliation process, click here to go to the CTTT web page.

If the dispute goes to a hearing, a Tribunal member will consider the evidence that you provide as well as the evidence provided by the other parties. Once the Tribunal member has considered all the evidence, he or she will make a legally binding decision.

The Tenants' Union of NSW website has a fact sheet that covers essential information about lodging a dispute with the CTTT, in particular information about the Tribunal hearing process. Click here to read the fact sheet.

Your local Tenants Advice and Advocacy Service can also provide you with information and advice over the phone. To find the contacts to your nearest Tenants Advice and Advocacy Service, click here.

7E.11: Dealing with Problems with neighbours

Whether you own your home or you are a tenant renting your home, you have a responsibility to avoid doing things that may cause nuisance or interfere with the reasonable peace, comfort and privacy of your neighbours. This responsibility applies equally to you as well as to your neighbours, and is usually set out in your tenancy agreement (if you are a tenant).

When neighbours are upset about each other's behaviour, there are a number of ways to deal with the problem, and these are discussed on the following pages:

7E.11.1: How to deal with problems that don't involve violent behaviour

Examples of behaviour or actions that are non-violent but may nevertheless be concerning to the neighbours include:

  • loud noise, especially at night;
  • trespassing: this is when someone enters another person's home or property without the owner's permission, or when someone has been asked to leave by the owner but refuses to do so;
  • routinely putting objects into the neighbour's home or property (such as routinely throwing a ball into the neighbour's backyard or your pet regularly entering your neighbour's yard);
  • plants that have grown into the neighbour's property.

If your neighbour is behaving in ways such as those listed above and you are concerned about that, the first thing you should do is to approach your neighbour politely and talk directly to him or her about your concern. It is best to do this at a time that is convenient for both yourself and your neighbour. This means it is not a good idea to do this just before either of you are about to go to work or are about to cook dinner. It might be a good idea to ask your neighbour when it would be convenient to drop by to speak to them.

Similarly, if your neighbour approaches you because he or she is concerned that your behaviour is affecting their ability to enjoy the peace, comfort or privacy of their own home, you should listen to your neighbour's concern and calmly talk the issue through, to see if together you can work out a solution.

For tips on how to deal with minor problems between neighbours, click here to download the Community Justice Centres' brochure: Some Suggestions on How to Deal with Conflict.

The Law Society of New South Wales also has an online fact sheet about the common problems people have with their neighbours and your legal rights in relation to these problems. Click here to view the online fact sheet.

Click here for what you can do if the problem is severe or threatens your physical safety.

You might also want to have someone help you to resolve the dispute through mediation. To find out more, click here.

7E.11.2: Using mediation to resolve neighbour disputes

If you and your neighbour had tried to talk the issue out, but still can't reach an agreed solution, you can take the dispute to a Community Justice Centre. At Community Justice Centres there are trained mediators who can help you and your neighbour discuss the issue and reach a settlement in a safe and neutral environment.

The mediator's role is to help you understand each other's point of view. Mediators do not to judge who is right or wrong and they cannot impose any punishment.

Mediation at a Community Justice Centre is free and is voluntary, but it can only work if both of the disputing parties agree to attend the mediation. Legal representation is normally not required in mediation, though it is often a good idea to talk to a lawyer to find out about your rights and have your legal questions answered before you go to a mediation session. Settlements reached through mediation are made in good faith and are not legally enforceable.

If mediation does not work, the Community Justice Centre may be able refer you on to another relevant agency to help you.

If you would like more information about mediation, how it works and how to access the service, click here to go to the Community Justice Centre's website or call 1800 990 777 (free call*).

* Remember, mobile phone calls to freecall numbers (numbers starting with 1800) are charged to the caller at the usual mobile rate.

7E.11.3: What to do if the problem is severe or threatens your physical safety

If your neighbour is harassing you, damaging your property or behaving in ways that make you feel unsafe, such as making threats of violence against you, you should contact the police. Depending on the actual problem, the police may apply for an Apprehended Violence Order against your neighbour or may even charge your neighbour for a criminal offence. To read more about Apprehended Violence Orders, click here .

If you are the person being complained about, you can contact LawAccess on 1300 888 529* for free legal advice or referral.

* Remember, mobile phone calls to Local call numbers (numbers starting with 1300) are charged to the caller at the usual mobile rate.

7E.11.4: Neighbour problems in public housing

The information on earlier pages about how to handle problems with neighbours applies to anyone who has neighbours, but if you live in public housing, Housing NSW also has a policy about being a good neighbour, which forms part of its over all During a Tenancy Policy. Click here to read the During a Tenancy Policy.

Generally, if the problem is minor and does not involve violence, Housing NSW encourages neighbours to sort out their dispute directly or through mediation at a Community Justice Centre. You can contact your local Housing NSW office if you would like to be referred to a Community Justice Centre for mediation.

For more about resolving a dispute with your neighbour directly, click here .

For more about using mediation to resolve a dispute with your neighbour, click here .

If you have made a complaint to your local Housing NSW office, your Client Service Officer will want evidence you have that is relevant to your complaint, and may also ask you to fill in a form to describe what happened. If the behaviour being complained about is a breach of the Tenancy Agreement, Housing NSW will investigate the complaint. If the complaint is proved to be true, the person causing the problem is usually given a chance to change that behaviour, providing that the behaviour does not threaten the safety of other tenants. If the person continues to breach the Tenancy Agreement, Housing NSW may take further actions against that person:

  • Housing NSW may issue a Notice of Termination; or
  • Housing NSW may apply to the Consumer, Trader and Tenancy Tribunal (CTTTT) for a hearing, seeking for an order:
    • to make sure the person complies with the Tenancy Agreement; or to end the person's tenancy; or
    • to immediately end the tenancy and take back the premises.

If the problem is severe, for example, there is harassment, intimidation, violence or drugs involved, you should report it to the police and then to your local Housing NSW office.

For more information on how Housing NSW responds to complaints, click here to go to its web page to download the fact sheet, 'Client Feedback'.

If you are the person being complained about, and you want advice on how to deal with the complaint, you should contact your local Tenants Advice and Advocacy Service. Click here to locate the contacts of your nearest Tenants Advice and Advocacy Service.

7E.12: Getting legal advice, advocacy and support with your tenancy issue

There are a number of organisations that can provide help and advice on your tenancy. It may be useful to visit the following websites for information:

or phone LawAccess on 1300 888 529*

You can also find out more about getting help in Part 10 of this Manual: Complaints and disputes and getting help to resolve them.

* Remember, mobile phone calls to Local call numbers (numbers starting with 1300) are charged to the caller at the usual mobile rate.

 

Disclaimer

  • The legal and other information contained in this Section is up to date to 27 January 2011
  • This Manual only refers to the law and practices applying to the Australian state of New South Wales (NSW).
  • MHCC does not guarantee the accuracy nor is responsible for the content or the currency of the content of external documents and websites linked to this Manual.