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Community Housing

What is community housing?

Community housing is managed and maintained by not-for-profit non-government organisations, usually community organisations, see COMMUNITY ORGANISATIONS.

It provides a wider range of choices for social housing tenants (some of whom have special needs that can be addressed with this housing) as well as simply an alternative to the mainstream public housing provider (i.e. Housing SA).

Community housing provides choice and diversity for tenants whilst encouraging self help, self management and volunteer community involvement in the provision, management and maintenance of housing.

How can I get into community housing?

A person who meets eligibility criteria (both basic and specific to each provider) can register their interest with a community housing provider. That provider will then enter their details onto a general register. The person will receive a letter confirming their eligibility and entry, if eligible, on the register. The register entry is then available to be considered by all providers.

The SA Gov -Public and Community Housing website has a list of all community housing providers operating in South Australia, as well as information about the different types of housing providers, eligibility for each and how to register an interest.

Registration does not, of course, guarantee housing. This would depend on a number of factors such as the number of properties available, the demand and the category of need assigned to each entry on the register.

How is community housing regulated?

Since 1 April 2014, the Community Housing Providers (National Law) (South Australia) Act 2013 (SA) ('Community Housing Providers National Law') has applied in South Australia. It requires community housing providers to register and follow the code under the Act.

There are special provisions in the Residential Tenancies Act 1995 (SA) for registered community housing providers (registered under the Community Housing Providers National Law), covering things such as:

  • periods of notice for rent increases [see s 55(2)(c)]
  • how the rent is calculated or can be changed [see s 55(2)(c)]
  • limiting responsibilty for the repair of certain items, such as airconditioners and light fittings, set out in the Residential Tenancies Regulations 2010 (SA) [see s 68(2)(b) of the Act and reg 11]
  • consent for assignment or subletting of the property can be withheld [see s 74(2)(b)(i)]
  • additional powers exist for ending a community housing tenancy with 28 days notice where the tenant is no longer a member or has breached an essential condition of the tenancy agreement [see s 82].

The role of Housing SA

The Community Partnerships and Growth Directorate within Housing SA (CPG) is responsible for the regulation and monitoring of community housing providers in accordance with the Community Housing Providers (National Law) (South Australia) Act 2013 (SA) . CPG also provides capital funding and other supports to assist the growth of the community housing sector.

Community housing providers

Community housing providers were orginally established as either housing co-operatives or housing associations.

Community housing providers vary in size and provide housing for people with low incomes generally and/or target a specific needs group. These needs groups include people such as those with chronic housing need, people experiencing family violence, people who are new to Australia, people with a disability (physical, intellectual, psychiatric, acquired brain injury, etc.) and the aged.

In fulfilling their role as a landlord, community housing providers are required to be registered under the Community Housing Providers (National Law) (South Australia) Act 2013 (SA) and abide by the Community Housing Providers National Law, relevant sections of the Associations Incorporation Act 1985 (SA) and the Residential Tenancies Act 1995 (SA), amongst others.

Housing co-operatives

Housing co-operatives (formerly incorporated and registered under the South Australian Co-operative and Community Housing Act 1991 (SA)) must (within 18 months from 1 April 2014) be incorporated under the Associations Incorporation Act 1985 (SA) and registered under the Community Housing Providers (National Law) (South Australia) Act 2013 (SA).

They have been established on a voluntary and not-for-profit basis by people with similar housing needs and interests. Members are generally the tenants of the co-operative and they take responsibility for managing the co-operative and its affairs, including administrative (such as waiting lists) and financial management and maintenance. Co-operative members are required to take an active role in the management of their co-operative.

Housing associations

Housing associations are incorporated under the Associations Incorporation Act 1985 (SA) and registered under the Community Housing Providers (National Law) (South Australia) Act 2013 (SA). They are not-for-profit non-government organisations that are often linked to community based service organisations such as churches or welfare groups, and are managed on behalf of tenants by community volunteers. In some instances housing association management committees have places reserved for tenant participation. New tenants are generally referred to housing associations by religious, health or welfare agencies.

Housing associations provide housing for a range of people in the community including special needs groups where it is necessary to provide both housing and other support services.

The essential difference between housing co-operatives (soon to also become associations) and housing associations is that the co-operatives were originally set up and managed by the tenants, whereas housing associations are managed by community volunteers on behalf of tenants. Some associations also have paid staff to perform tenant and property management functions.

Intervention orders and terminating a tenancy

Where an intervention order has been issued against a tenant for the protection of a person who normally resides at community housing premises or where a tenant has committed domestic abuse against a person who normally resides at the premises, the tenancy can be terminated [Residential Tenancies Act 1995 (SA) s 89A(2)]. Alternatively, the tenancy can be terminated and replaced with a new one without the alleged perpetrator of the domestic abuse as a party. Orders can also be made to determine liability for any damage caused as a result of an incident of domestic abuse and to refund the bond accordingly.

An application must be made to the South Australian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (SACAT). See 'Resolving Disputes'.

Resolving disputes

Appeals from decisions relating to community housing are heard by the South Australian Civil and Administrative Appeal Tribunal (SACAT) [see Community Housing Providers (National Law) (South Australia) Act 2013 (SA) sch 2].

Who can appeal?

  • Tenants of registered community housing providers
  • Prospective members of registered community housing providers

What sorts of decisions can be appealed?

For tenants, decisions about:

  • assessment of their financial or other circumstances
  • allocation (or reallocation) of any premises
  • state, condition, modification or improvement of premises
  • calculation or imposition of any additional rent, levy, charge or subsidy
  • termination of membership of the community housing provider
  • any other decision that affects the tenant's occupation or use of the premises

For prosective members, the rejection of their membership where it affects their existing tenancy or other existing right of occupation.

What decisions cannot be appealed?

  • Those that are not about the occupation of community housing
  • Those that relate to a matter that may be the subject of regulation or proceedings under the Residential Tenancies Act 1995 (SA)

The Tribunal may also decline to hear an appeal if it considers that mediation or conciliation should, and has not yet been attempted to reach a resolution.

Is there a time limit?

Yes, an appeal must be lodged within 30 days from the date on which the person receives written notice of the decision of the community housing provider.

Who can help with an appeal?

Tenants' Information and Advisory Service (TIAS)

Provides free independent support to tenants on low incomes in the public, private and community rental markets. Support includes advocacy on tenancy issues such as tenancy rights and responsibilities, application processes for private and public rental, disputes, debts, evictions and appeals processes.

Locations in Adelaide:, Christies Beach, Blair Athol, Port Adelaide, and Elizabeth.

To make an appointment call 1800 060 462 or visit the Tenants' Information and Advisory Service Website

Community Housing Council of SA (CHCSA)

Provides advice, support and advocacy for Community Housing Organisations on community housing issues.

Telephone: 8362 1022 or visit the Community Housing Council of SA website.

    Community Housing  :  Last Revised: Thu Dec 15th 2016
    The content of the Law Handbook is made available as a public service for information purposes only and should not be relied upon as a substitute for legal advice. See Disclaimer for details. For free and confidential legal advice in South Australia call 1300 366 424.