Employee housing policy

Policy Number TI-A-125   Effective Date 16 Nov 2011   Review Date 16 November 2012

Purpose

To ensure that employee housing is managed efficiently, economically and in accordance with NSW Government policy while supporting the service delivery requirements of the Department.

Scope

The policy applies to all staff involved in the occupation, administration or management of long term employee housing owned or controlled by the Department. The policy does not apply to occupants of student dormitories and short stay residential accommodation nor to private tenants who are not employees of the Department.

Policy

  1. Allocation and classification of housing

    Housing will be allocated in the following order of preference:

    1. Employees for whom living on site is an essential requirement of their position (essential housing)
    2. Employees for whom living on site is optional and they provide operational support at the site which is recognised through concessional rent (operational housing)
    3. Employees or contractors living in remote locations where housing is provided as an incentive to attract or retain their services (remote housing)
    4. Employees for whom living in employee housing is optional and subject to 100% market rent (optional housing)
    5. Private tenants whose occupation is subject to 100% market rent (private housing)

    Unless there is an operational or industrial necessity for allocation to a particular staff member, local expressions of interest will be called prior to allocating housing in categories b, c and d above. For private housing the local manager will be responsible for selecting suitable tenants in consultation with the letting agent.

  2. Tenancy agreement

    Each tenancy shall be subject to the presiding NSW residential tenancy legislation and must be supported by a tenancy agreement. Both the Department and the tenant shall be bound by the agreement and the legislation. Where there is a conflict between this policy and the legislation, the legislation shall take precedence.

  3. Rental determination and payment

    In accordance with Department of Premier and Cabinet Employee Housing Policy (M1994-10) rents will be adjusted by reference to market rental valuations every fifth year coinciding with the asset re valuation cycle and by indexation in each of the intervening (non-valuation) years.
    Revaluation and indexation calculations should be completed in time to allow implementation of rent adjustments in the first fortnightly pay period occurring on or after 1 July each year subject to adequate written notice having been given under the requirements of the tenancy legislation.
    Rental payments for Departmental employees will be by payroll deduction unless the employee is on leave without pay (see below).

  4. Leave without pay (LWOP)

    Prior to taking periods of LWOP which will result in the inability to make payments via payroll deduction employees who occupy Departmental housing must make appropriate arrangements for payment of rent.
    When taking LWOP for a period greater than three months written approval to remain in Departmental accommodation must be obtained from an authorised delegate.

  5. Rental concessions

    The Director-General or an authorised delegate may approve less than market rent in the following circumstances:

    1. In remote or isolated locations where the Department has difficulty attracting employees - 80% of full market rent.
    2. In remote locations where market rents are high due to the scarcity of rental accommodation - 50% of full market rent.
    3. In situations where occupation of the residence is essential to performance of the duties required - 50% of full market rent.
    4. In situations where occupation of the residence is essential to performance of the duties required and the full market rental would be unreasonably high - 30% of full market rent.
    5. In situations where it is necessary to protect cost effective working arrangements - 30% of full market rent.
  6. Former employees

    Employees who leave the service of the Department will be given notice to vacate no later than one month following their last day of service unless their continued occupation as a private tenant (see below) is approved by an authorised delegate. The actual date of vacation will be subject to adequate notice being given in accordance with the legislation.

  7. Fringe benefits tax

    In certain circumstances the provision of housing to current and former Government employees may incur a liability for Fringe Benefits Tax (FBT). Where such a liability arises the Department will either pay the FBT or if the tenant is employed by another agency, notify the other agency of their liability to pay.

    Although FBT is paid by the employer, the FBT Legislation requires that the gross (pre tax) value of the benefit derived is reported to the ATO. Staff who occupy or apply for employee housing should seek independent advice about possible implications of the FBT provisions on their financial affairs and access to Commonwealth Government entitlements.
    When making decisions about the allocation of housing and rental concessions managers and delegates must take into account any financial implications of FBT liability which may be incurred by the Department.

  8. Housing standards and maintenance

    The housing provided to staff required to live on site (essential housing) should meet an acceptable standard of safety, amenity and comfort as these staff don't have an option of living elsewhere. For this reason essential housing will be given the highest priority for non urgent maintenance and may be eligible for the allocation of capital funding for refurbishment and improvements.

    Houses occupied by staff who receive a rental concession for providing on site operational support (operational housing) or those living in remote locations (remote housing) will be given a medium priority for non urgent maintenance but will generally not be refurbished or improved beyond the current standard.

    Housing occupied by employees paying 100% market rent (optional housing) and non-employees (private housing) will be subject to regular review with the aim of identifying and disposing of surplus stocks. These houses will be given a low priority for non urgent maintenance and will not be refurbished or improved.

    All of the above categories will be given high priority for the allocation of maintenance to undertake urgent repairs where there is an unacceptable risk to the health and safety of the occupants.

  9. Rationalisation

    Due to changes in operational practices, living standards, demographics and transport the Department has some housing for which there is no operational requirement. When total ownership costs are taken into account the retention of surplus housing is not financially viable in the long term. For this reason the Department will continually review its inventory with the aim of minimising the long term financial liability by divesting surplus housing.

  10. Private tenants

    Housing which is not currently required for use by employees may be leased to private tenants. Private tenancies should be managed through a local real estate agent under a standard agency agreement. This requirement will also apply when a former employee remains in occupancy and becomes a private tenant.

    Rents for private tenancies will be determined in consultation with the agent and although not subject to section 3 should generally not be less than that which would apply under the provisions of section 3 of this policy.

  11. Conflicts of interest

    Occupants of employee housing who are also involved in its administration, management or maintenance must ensure that they do not:

    1. Allocate resources or undertake/authorise work without appropriate authority
    2. Attempt to influence, with the intent of gaining a financial or material advantage, persons appointed or engaged to make managerial, administrative or valuation decisions or judgements
    3. Do or refrain from doing anything that could reasonable be considered to constitute a conflict of interest or a breach of the Departmental Code of Conduct.

Procedures

  • Employee housing

Roles and responsibilities

  • Site Managers will be responsible for local management of Departmental cottages
  • Director, Corporate Operations will be responsible for the approval of cottage occupancies, requests for reduced rental rates and the overall management of Departmental cottages.

Delegations

  • Employee housing

Legislation

  • NSW Residential Tenancies Act and Regulations (2010)
  • Fringe Benefits Tax Assessment Act 1986

Related policies

  • Department of Premier and Cabinet Employee Housing Policy (M1994-10)
  • A-024 - Taxation - FBT

Other related documents

  • Employee housing manual

Definitions

D-G:
The Director-General of the Department

Authorised delegate:
A Departmental officer acting under the formal delegated authority of the
D-G
Site:
A facilitate owned or managed by the Department such as a research station or college where residential accommodation is available
Private tenant:
A member of the public who leases Departmental residential accommodation
Tenancy legislation:
NSW Residential Tenancies Act and Regulations (2010) or superseding acts and regulations

Superseded documents

  • Nil
Revision history
Version Date issued Notes By
1 16/11/2011 Original Manager Asset Strategy

Review date

16/11/2012

Contact

Assets Strategy Unit

02 63913 617