Resolve disputes between community housing providers and residents
Tenants renting public or community housing or privately who interfere with the comfort, peace and privacy of their neighbours are breaking the conditions of their lease agreement.
If you have a complaint, you should contact your community housing provider in the first instance to raise any concerns. Keep written evidence of your concerns. If an informal discussion doesn't resolve the issue, you can make a formal complaint or appeal to the community housing provider.
Community housing providers must have a process for dealing with tenant complaints and appeals and must provide tenants with information about that process.
Before lodging an appeal, it is recommended that you contact one of the organisations listed below to assist in resolving a dispute.
Everyone is entitled to live quietly and respectfully in their home, regardless of where they live and whether they rent or own a property. You don't have to tolerate excessive noise or physical or verbal abuse from a neighbour.
The lease agreement signed at the start of a tenancy sets out some of your rights and responsibilities. If you fail to meet these conditions, you will be breaking the lease agreement which can lead to eviction.
Tenants have a responsibility to:
- pay rent in full when it is due
- keep the property in a reasonable state of cleanliness and free from health and fire hazards
- not cause or permit damage to the property, either intentionally or through negligence
- not allow the property to be used for illegal purposes
- let other neighbours and residents live in comfort, peace and privacy
- notify the landlord of any repairs or maintenance needed as soon as possible
- comply with all conditions included in the lease agreement.
If you're having problems meeting the conditions of your lease agreement - eg you can't pay the rent - you should speak to your community housing provider as soon as possible. The provider will try to help you rectify the issue - eg make a repayment arrangement that you can afford.
Organisations that can help in a dispute
- Community Mediation Services - provides free, independent advice and support to help reach mutually acceptable outcomes
- RentRight SA - provides free, independent support and advice. It can act as an advocate on your behalf with your community housing provider
- Office of Housing Regulation (OHR) - see more information further down
- Consumer and Business Services - renting and letting advice for landlords and tenants
- Legal Services Commission - for information on free legal advice
- Police - phone 131 444. If you file a report, ask the police for a copy and keep it for your records.
- Environment Protection Agency (EPA) - phone 8204 2000
- Domestic Violence Gateway Service - freecall 1800 800 098 or contact your local community health centre for advice
- Financial counselling - ask your provider about services available in your local area
- Your local council.
All community housing providers have their own complaints process and are responsible for appeals or reviews that come from a decision they have made. Contact your community housing provider for more information and to lodge your complaint or appeal.
There are two levels of appeal:
- an internal review by the community housing provider
- an external appeal to the South Australian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (SACAT).
Internal community housing provider appeal
If you're appealing a decision made by a community housing provider, you must lodge your appeal within the timeframe set by the community housing provider’s complaints or review process. As a guide, a reasonable timeframe for both tenants and providers could be approximately 30 days of the tenant receiving notification of the decision.
An appeal to the community housing provider must be made in writing and must include:
- your name and contact details
- the name of any other parties involved - eg another tenant
- details around how the dispute arose
a clear indication that this is an appeal.
If you are unhappy with the outcome of that appeal, you can lodge a further appeal with SACAT within 30 days of receiving notification of the decision.
Community housing tenants may appeal to SACAT about any of the following decisions made by a community housing provider:
- assessment of eligibility or financial circumstances of the tenant
- allocation of premises
- state of a premises
- rent and charges
- membership of a community housing provider
- or any other decision that affects a tenant’s occupation or use of premises.
Before lodging an appeal, you are strongly recommended to seek further advice and information about your situation from SACAT or one of the organisations listed above.
If you have any questions about rent or other charges in a community housing property, first contact your community housing provider to ask for an internal review. You can contact the RentRight SA to help you with this process.
After an internal review by the community housing provider, if you are dissatisfied with the provider’s decision, you are able to appeal to the SACAT as per the process above - Appeals.
Following these steps, if you still have serious concerns that your community housing provider is not operating in accordance with policy, contact the Office of Housing Regulation.
Complaints to the Office of Housing Regulation
The Office of Housing Regulation will generally receive complaints from tenants and interested parties after they have been through a provider's formal complaint handling process. This is to ensure the community housing provider has an opportunity to resolve the matter directly with the complainant in a timely and fair manner.
The Office of Housing Regulation will assess how the complaint has been handled by a community housing provider, and initiate an investigation or triggered compliance assessment if there is evidence the community housing provider has not complied with their obligations under the National Regulatory Code.
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