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Media Release by Senator the Hon Mark Arbib

New system for Community Housing residents

A new system to help more than 40,000 community housing residents update their Commonwealth Rent Assistance agreements automatically is being rolled out from today.

Minister for Social Housing and Homelessness Mark Arbib said the Electronic Verification of Rent system would replace the existing paper-based system, where residents are required to fill out a Rent Certificate, have it signed by their landlord and return it to Centrelink in order to verify their eligibility for Rent Assistance.

Under this system, some residents have had difficulty returning their Rent Certificates on time resulting in their Rent Assistance payments being suspended.

In extreme cases, the payments had to be cancelled entirely, potentially leading to hardship.

“The new electronic system will take the pressure off residents by transferring the responsibility to participating community housing providers to regularly provide up-to-date rental details for each of their customers to Centrelink,” Senator Arbib said.

“This will be done via a secure online portal directly to Centrelink where the customer records will be automatically updated.

“This new system will ensure Rent Assistance payments are not compromised for those who have difficulty with verification processes.

“It will also ease the administrative burden on community housing providers who, until now, have had the onerous job of manually checking and signing off large numbers of rent certificates.”

The new system will also reduce Centrelink workloads by cutting both the paperwork and the administrative costs of suspending and recovering incorrect Rent Assistance payments.