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7.1 General Principles
In accordance with the "Agreement" an application for instalment relief can only be made through the Bank (although if an application is submitted direct to DSH it can be processed). On receipt of an application from the Bank for instalment relief a delegate is required to determine if the applicant is an entitled applicant. Upon a determination that an applicant is entitled to instalment relief, a certificate of entitlement is to be issued within seven days of receipt of the application.
When considering an application for relief, delegates need to have regard to the approved guidelines in deciding whether an applicant is suffering financial hardship or serious financial hardship for the purposes of certain paragraphs of the Act. (See Hardship Guidelines and the Rates for Assessing Hardship in Chapter 6 Entitlement GO's.)
To ensure the genuineness of the need and to avoid providing, in effect, welfare-like assistance to those with reasonable incomes, the joint income of the applicant and spouse or de facto partner would be expected to be less than the average weekly earnings for an adult in full time employment in the State in which the home is located.
Further, for serious financial hardship cases, a 35% test of housing commitments against income is to be applied. This figure is consistent with the maximum commitments allowed by lenders when considering new loan proposals and the single figure will ensure equity in treatment of applicants.
In financial hardship cases, a 25% test of housing commitments against income is to be applied. This figure is consistent with income tests in the field of welfare housing for those on pensions or low incomes.
Counselling on DSH entitlements should be given to the widow/widower on the death of an eligible person. (This should include determining if the widow/widower has any entitlement based on her/his own period of qualifying service.) If instalment relief is being sought, she/he is to be advised that any reduction in instalments does not relieve her/him or the estate from liability to repay the full amount of the loan plus interest. A widow/widower seeking assistance for the payment of rates or other charges to an authority should also be advised that it may be to her/his advantage to refer first to the authority concerned as a discount, deferment or other assistance to alleviate hardship may be available.
An application for a widow/widower advance should be lodged before arrangements to commence the repairs are made and/or before the rates, taxes, charges or other outgoings in respect of the subject property are paid.
A widow/widower will be expected to make her/his own arrangements to have the repairs effected.