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Aboriginal Community Owned & Managed

News & Events

Where Does My Rent Money Go?

Posted on 18 Jan 2022

One of the most common questions we receive from our tenants is about where rental payments go. When you make rental payments to SEARMS, these payments are first used to cover a number of ongoing Fixed Costs, with any monies left over going toward Repairs & Maintenance obligations for your home.

Fixed Costs

The average rent charged per SEARMS dwelling was $177 per week* and the majority of this payment is used for fixed costs directly related to the rental property. These costs include:

Council Rates, Water Rates & Management Fees

These rates vary based on the area of your residence and the size of your rental property. The average costs per property come to approximately $87 per week*.


Each property has dwellings insurance in the event of a bushfire, natural disaster, liability claim, or other accident. For an average SEARMS property, these costs come to approximately $40 per week*. It is the Tenant’s responsibility to take out Contents Insurance for their personal belongings.

The remainder of an average of $50 per week did not cover essential repairs and maintenance! Since that time (2020) owners have been reviewing their housing policies including rent setting to ensure enough funds are received to pay the escalating costs.

*Rental payment and cost amounts are estimates only and are based on the average cost per week over all housing portfolios as at Sept 2020. 

Repairs & Maintenance

SEARMS encourgages all Owners to budget ahead for R & M and ensure their rent setting policies allow for Compliance and Cat 1 & 2 responses at a minimum.

Rental properties must comply with Smoke Alarm and Residual Current Device checks.  Some housing portfolios also require regular pest inspections.

SEARMS categorises requests for repairs and maintenace into FOUR categories, with the following response time targets:

  • Cat 1 – Urgent (within 24 hours)
  • Cat 2 – Priorty (within 2-3 days)
  • Cat 3 – Non-urgent (up to 21 days)
  • Cat 4 – Non-urgent (2+ months)

This means that if rent isn’t paid in full or the rent setting is too low, repairs and maintenance may not be able to be carried out on your home due to a lack of available funds. As such, most housing portfolios only have sufficient funds for Cat 1 & 2 R & M jobs.

For more detail on the Categories and Types of work, see the Repairs & Maintenance FAQ

Home modifications

The Tenant must seek approval in writing from the Owner to undertake any home modifications.  These are generally done at the Tenant’s expenses and must be carried out by an appropriately licenced/qualified trade.

Some Tenants may be able to get approved modifications paid for from their Aged Care or NDIS package and will need to discuss this with their support provider.

Tenant Damage

Tenant damage repairs are where the property has been damaged due to poor property care or misuse by the tenant/occupant or guests. This includes, but is not limited to:

  • Broken windows and doors 
  • Lost keys 
  • Oven replacements due to poor cleaning practices

Tenants have to pay for these types of repairs themselves.


Take the SEARMS Tenant Quik Quiz to confirm your knowledge



If you have any further questions related to your rental payments, please email your query to