Government launches independent investigation into misconduct in rental affordability scheme
The Turnbull Government will launch an independent inquiry into complaints against housing providers in the National Rental Affordability Scheme (NRAS).
Minister for Social Services, Christian Porter said the Government’s recent strengthening of the poorly Labor-designed NRAS regulatory framework now made such an inquiry possible.
“This inquiry is in direct response to investors’ complaints against providers, including delays in passing on financial incentives to investors in the scheme,” Minister Porter said.
“NRAS provides investors with a financial incentive to provide their property for rent, through an NRAS housing provider, at or below 80 percent of the local market rent. There are approximately 33,000 properties in the scheme, contributing to affordable housing across Australia.
“I want to ensure that NRAS provides investors with much greater protection. This investigation will be conducted by an independent consultant, to be appointed, and will focus on issues surrounding investors’ complaints about transferring NRAS allocations.
“Investors can transfer their property from one provider to another for a variety of reasons, including if the provider is not passing on the incentive to an investor in a timely way; if a provider is giving false or misleading information to an investor; or a provider is failing to comply with a consumer protection law, such as allowing an investor to choose a property manager.”
Minister Porter said the Government was also considering further strengthening of the NRAS regulatory framework in the near future to further strengthen protections for investors.
“Labor failed to build-in effective protections for investors when it established the scheme,” the Minister said.
“There have been extensive reports of serious problems for some investors with particular providers and so this inquiry is absolutely necessary.
“Organisations managing the financial incentive for investors, including for-profit and not-for-profit housing providers, have a responsibility to ensure they act in the best interests of the scheme and investors. The majority are doing the right thing. But investors’ complaints about the behaviour of some organisations need to be addressed.”
Minister Porter urged any NRAS investor who considers there are grounds for the transfer of the NRAS financial incentive associated with their property to contact his Department.
Investigation of NRAS Investor Complaints and Request to Transfer
Terms of Reference
- Investigate new and existing complaints from NRAS investors and stakeholders about the conduct of Approved Participants (AP) in NRAS with regard to the grounds set out in regulation 21A of the National Rental Affordability Scheme Regulations 2008 (NRAS Regulations); and make a finding to the Secretary of the Department of Social Services (the Secretary) on an appropriate course of action to address the complaint.
- Investigate new and existing applications made by NRAS investors seeking to transfer the allocation attached to their approved rental dwelling to another AP, pursuant to regulation 21A of the NRAS Regulations; and make a finding to the Secretary as to whether, in your view, one or more of the grounds in regulation 21A are met.
- Give priority to the investigation of applications from investors seeking to transfer the allocation attached to their approved rental dwelling to another AP.
- Liaise directly with investors or complainants during the investigation to obtain all relevant information and/or evidence to support the finding.
- Report any other potential breaches of consumer or corporate law that may be identified in the course of the investigation.
- Complete each investigation within ten business days, including an initial investigation on all existing complaints and claims within ten business days from appointment.
- Provide weekly progress reports to the Department.
- Identify any gaps or limitations in the NRAS Regulations with regard to the provisions to compulsorily transfer an allocation to another AP (i.e. regulations 21A, 21B, 21C and 22B of the NRAS Regulations) or other safeguards that could be introduced.