Public housing tenants face stiff rent increases

CHANGES: Minister for Housing and Public Works, Tim Mander MP.
CHANGES: Minister for Housing and Public Works, Tim Mander MP. Sarah Harvey

SOCIAL housing tenants in Ipswich are in some cases earning more than $1000 a week but paying just $91.50 in rent.

Now the Queensland Government is moving to make sure all residents contribute at least 25% of their income for their homes.

Queensland Government is dismantling income concessions and exemptions allowing residents to fork out a fraction of already hugely discounted rents.

Through no fault of their own, those in the government-supplied housing are paying far less than the 25% of their income mandated by state legislation.

The exemptions widen an already enormous gap between social housing tenants and private renters in Ipswich, with renters paying an average of 71% more a week.

It follows revelations from Public Housing Minister Tim Mander, who told APN earlier this month more than 100 welfare payments were exempt from being considered as income.

In some cases, rents were determined on a household income of $400 per week through exemptions, while the real weekly income figure topped $1000.

With the discounts, these tenants pay just $91 per week - about a third of what the law demands.

This meant some pensioners could be earning the same in government payments but spend much more on rent.

"For some bizarre reason, the previous government had all these exemptions in regards to what was assessable income," Mr Mander said.

"The result of that was that most people don't pay 25%.

"In fact, some people pay as little as 8-9% of their income as rent."

After pledging action, Mr Mander yesterday said all public housing tenants would have their proper income reassessed in the next 12 months, with the view to increasing the rent.

To avoid forcing those already struggling to meet a sudden increase, the government is capping the annual rental increases at $7.50 per week.

The rent would go up every year until the tenant reaches that 25%, even if that takes a decade.

"The social housing tenants are totally unaware of this - they haven't done anything wrong," Mr Mander said.

The government is writing to all 15,000 social housing sites this week to raise the issue.

In the coming 12 months, those who are paying less than 25% of their income will receive notice of the weekly increase of $7.50.

Topics:  public housing public housing tenants tim mander

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