SOCIAL housing tenants in Rockhampton are in some cases earning more than $800 a week but paying just $81.50 in rent, as the Queensland Government acts to have 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 massively 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 Rockhampton, with the latter paying an average of 62% 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 a week through exemptions, while the real weekly figure topped $1000.
With the discounts, these tenants pay just $91 a week - about a third of what the law demands. This meant some pensioners may be earning the same in government payments, but spending 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 on Monday said all public housing tenants would have their proper income reassessed in the next 12 months, with the view of increasing rent.
To avoid forcing those already struggling to meet a sudden increase, the government is capping the annual rental increases at $7.50 a 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.
Housing service centre
Total household income and rent payable
Rockhampton $837.45 $81.50
Gladstone $896.14 $88.20
Mackay $1413.73 $134.15
The cost of renting
Median private rent and average social housing rent
Rockhampton $320 $123
Gladstone $360 $132
Mackay $375 $129