Changes for Government and Non-Government SDA providers as amendments to the Residential Tenancies Act come into effect
- In July 2019, the law changed and specialist disability accommodation (SDA) became part of the Residential Tenancies Act 1997.
- Consumer Affairs Victoria (CAV) is the new Victorian SDA tenancies regulator. The quality and safety of SDA is regulated by the NDIS Commission.
- As of 30 September 2019 DHHS will withdraw from the provision of vacancy management and fire services for non-government owned SDA properties.
- Non-government SDA providers must demonstrate they have adequate vacancy management and fire safety processes and policies in place.
The Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) is withdrawing from the provision of vacancy management for non-government owned specialist disability accommodation (SDA) properties. To ensure prospective and current residents are not impacted, DHHS will continue to offer vacancy coordination until 30 September 2019, allowing time for providers to establish and implement their own vacancy management practices and update the associated polices and procedures.
According to the Tenancy Management module of the NDIS Practice Standards and Quality Indicators, providers of SDA must be able to demonstrate that they have “policies and procedures in place about how a provider will declare, advertise and fill vacancies in shared living, including how each participant’s views, preferences and needs are documented and taken into account. The policies are made available to participants in the language, mode of communication and terms which each participant is likely to understand.” Providers of non-government SDA will be required to confirm an approach to vacancy management and develop the required policies and procedures to meet the Quality Indicators mandated by the NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission.
Historically, DHHS has funded fire safety systems in non-government owned SDA dwellings under the DHHS Capital Development Guidelines 2013 – Series 7 Fire Risk Management. With the change in regulatory frameworks, DHHS no longer has responsibility for installation or maintenance of fire safety systems in non-government owned SDA dwellings. Providers are now required to comply with the fire safety standards set by the NDIS and the Building Code of Australia. DHHS will continue to offer fire service inspections until 30 September 2019 to give providers time to establish their own fire safety processes.
In response to NDS member concerns, DHHS is currently clarifying whether the Department will allow access to its on line fire safety training for providers operating in non-government SDA properties.
According to the NDIS Practice Standards and Quality Indicators providers of SDA must demonstrate that there is a signed agreement in place which “includes information about dwelling safety features, including fire alarms and building evacuation procedures, and how this information will be communicated to other providers who deliver supported independent living to each participant in the dwelling.” Non-government SDA providers who have previously utilised DHHS’ fire systems, policies and procedures will need to establish these processes and communicate changes to their participants either by updating their Service Agreements or including this as an additional term in the appropriate CAV lease agreement. SDA providers will need to ensure their SIL Collaboration Agreements are also updated.
Separation of board and lodging
The separation of board and lodging is required under the Residential Tenancies Act. When entering into either the SDA Residential Agreement or the standard Residential tenancy agreement these costs and charges must be separately documented. DHHS will be in contact with Community Service Organisations (CSO) under SIL arrangements with DHHS SDA properties to confirm lodging (rent) amounts being paid by current residents. DHHS will be entering into the SDA Residential Agreement with residents, and also be issuing end of property leases and new Collaborations Agreements to CSO’s delivering SIL in government owned SDA properties.
NDS SDA Reference Group
As previously advised, NDS will be working closely with DHHS and CAV in the coming months to provide input on the new regulatory framework. We will also develop resources and host metropolitan and regional forums to assist providers.
Members are welcome to join our online NDS SDA reference group to provide advice on draft materials and to identify emerging issues or concerns regarding SDA regulation. Please contact Savannah Jewell if you wish to join this group.