Section 19 - Shelter, Utilities and Fuel

19.1.1 Rental Guidelines

Policies

The Bell Hotel Supportive Housing Project (PDF 126 KB)

EIA Participants with Unread Water Meters in City of Winnipeg (city issue only) (PDF 149 KB)

Excess Rent - Unexpected Circumstances (PDF 119 KB)

Guest Registration and Payment Information for Lennox Bell Place (PDF 130 KB)

Housing First Programs in Winnipeg (PDF 157 KB)

Increase in the Laboratory Fee for Testing the Nitrate Content of Well Water (PDF 15 KB)

Manitoba Housing - Tenant Initiated Transfer Fees (PDF 111 KB)

Rent Assist Implementation: Households not on Employment and Income Assistance (EIA) (PDF 193 KB)

Rent Assist - Transitions between the "Including Utilities" and "Excluding Utilities" Rates for Clients in Private Rent (PDF 227 KB)

Utility Company Notification (PDF 41 KB)

Utility Company - Cancel (PDF 30 KB)

Utility Company Notification (PDF 58 KB)

Form

Excess Rent (PDF 512 KB)

Which Shelter Rate Should I Choose? (PDF 167 KB)

 

General Guideline

Rental rates in the following table apply to all EIA participants residing in private rental accommodation. The director and designate have the authority to exceed the maximum rent guidelines under exceptional circumstances.
 
Family Size Basic Rent Rent Including Fuel and Utilities
1 Person $ 243.00 $ 285.00
- general assistance Rent up to $285.00
2 Persons $ 285.00 $ 387.00
3 Persons $ 310.00 $ 430.00
4 Persons $ 351.00 $ 471.00
5 Persons $ 371.00 $ 488.00
6 Persons $ 387.00 $ 513.00
 

19.1.2 Rent Increases in Excess of Residential Tenancies Guidelines

Policy

 
If landlords have notified the Residential Tenancies Branch (RTB) that they would like to increase a tenant's rent in excess of the maximum rent increase set by RTB, the tenant is required to pay the higher rent requested by the landlord until RTB has reviewed the request and made a decision. The landlord must give the tenant three months notice prior to any increase in rent.
 
RTB also mediates disagreements between tenants and landlords, except for complaints about rent increases within the annual rent increase guideline amounts.
 
The RTB makes decisions on claims for compensation including rent, damage or loss of personal property, utility bills, compensation for moving costs and interest owing. If necessary, the RTB will issue an order.
 
The application fee for filing a claim for compensation is waived for participants of EIA, including those who receive health benefits only. EIA may assist participants in seeking a claim for compensation from landlords, where it appears that the participant has reasonable grounds for the claim. Participants must sign a consent for disclosure of information so that RTB can verify enrollment on EIA to waive the filing fees.
 
Participants must provide EIA with a copy of a decision or order from RTB. If the decision from the claim results in a rent refund or compensation for utilities that were paid by EIA, the participant should provide confirmation from the landlord regarding how the refund or claim will be paid. When the decision is received, it should be reviewed with the supervisor or designate to determine if further action is required.
 
If the agreement is to reduce the rent for a subsequent month(s), the participant's shelter assistance should NOT be adjusted if the participant has used their basic needs or exempted sources to pay the rent overage. Additionally, if shelter payments are paid directly to the landlord, shelter benefits should be redirected to the participant for the months that the rent is reduced. This ensures that the participant is fairly compensated for their basic needs.
 
If the money compensating for utilities is to be returned to the tenant in a lump sum payment, the participant is to be advised in writing that the money is considered a financial resource, and the following month the unearned income is applied, which will affect that month's financial assistance.
 

19.1.3 Public Housing

Policy

 
The rental rates for public housing includes Manitoba Housing direct-managed units (previously known as the Manitoba Housing Authority) and the Rural and Native Housing (RNH) Program units:
 
Family Size Basic Rent Water Incld. Lights Incld. Water/ Lights Incld. Water/ Heat Incld. Water/ Heat/ Light Incld.
1 person $ 243 $ 253 $ 258 $ 268 $ 270 $ 285
2 persons $ 285 $ 303 $ 325 $ 343 $ 347 $ 387
3 persons $ 310 $ 333 $ 343 $ 366 $ 395 $ 430
4 persons $ 351 $ 373 $ 384 $ 406 $ 438 $ 471
5 persons $ 371 $ 393 $ 404 $ 426 $ 455 $ 488
6 persons $ 387 $ 412 $ 422 $ 447 $ 478 $ 513
 
NOTE: In households where a mother, father and adult child are EIA participants, the three person family rate will apply. If the adult child is self-supporting, then EIA should pay the two person rate and the Manitoba Housing Authority will charge the self-supporting child an additional amount.
 
See also section 19.1.23 for rates in the "Rural and Native Housing Program" for home ownership units.
 
Participants who reside in units that have the FAST system installed (an emergency response system) should be advised that they will not be required to pay the $4.00 monthly cost of the system if they identify themselves as EIA participants. An exception to this agreement is residents of Women in Second Stage Housing (WISH) who are required to pay the $4.00 monthly charge. The director or designate may authorize payment of the fee applying the same criteria used when approving a telephone as a health need.
 
See also section 22.3.9 for a description of the criteria for approving telephone costs.
 

19.1.4 Rent Indirectly Subsidized by Government

Some rental subsidy programs do not make subsidy payments directly to low-income renters. Instead, they subsidize the rent in relation to renters' income. The final rent paid by, or on behalf of, EIA participants should not exceed the schedule of rates negotiated with the Manitoba Housing Authority.
 
EIA participants residing in subsidized shelter units should be advised that there are items other than rent, fuel and utilities associated with the costs of such units, which EIA will not always pay. Extras such as carpeting, drapes, balcony, air conditioning and washer/dryer can often be covered. Extras such as cable television, parking, sauna or pool will not normally be paid for by EIA. Participants should be advised that they might have to pay for the costs of these extras themselves without any reimbursement through EIA.
 

19.1.5 Rent Directly Subsidized by Government

Some provincial programs make rent subsidy payments directly to low-income renters rather than subsidizing them through the cost of rent. SAFER and SAFFR are examples of such programs. EIA participants cannot be enrolled in direct rental subsidy programs. If participants want to enrol in either SAFER or SAFFR, they must first leave EIA. However, participants whose cash assistance has stopped and are enrolled only in the EIA Health Services program may be enrolled in SAFER or SAFFR.
 

19.1.6 Confirming Rental Information

Policies

Rental Information (PDF 73 KB)
 
Tenancy information should be obtained using the standard Residential Tenancy Lease Agreement Form, or by an EIA Rental Information Form completed by the applicant or participant and the landlord.
 
Where a standard lease agreement or rent form is not available, staff should confirm the amount of monthly rent by obtaining rent receipts from the participant. Any additional shelter details may be obtained by specific request to the participant or landlord.
 
All relevant information pertaining to landlords should be entered into SAMIN with adequate case notes explaining the rental arrangements. Copies of the rental verification must be placed in the file.
 
When EIA is advised that the legal owner of a property has changed, EIA is responsible for confirming that the property transfer has occurred, prior to making any changes in SAMIN. Landlords must submit a copy of the "Certified Status of Title"' document, or a letter from the lawyer, which includes that the lawyer is acting on the new owner's behalf and that the lawyer has registered a transfer of land. The letter must also include the date and registration number of the transfer of land. Confirmation of the new landlord's full name and address, and the name and address that the landlord wants the rent cheques mailed to (if different from above) must also be received.
 

19.1.7 Rent Paid Directly to Landlords

The EIA program may pay rent directly to a landlord:
  1. upon written request of the participant;
  2. upon the request of a landlord if the participant agrees in writing; or
  3. with the participant's written approval, if he or she is two or more weeks in arrears.
It is important that third party numbers, which are created for direct payments to landlords, include accurate information. Any requests for corrections to landlord information, or, for the creation of new third party numbers, must be sent to Central Accounts.
 

19.1.8 Security Deposits

Policy

Form

 
When a participant advises they are moving, a guideline security deposit can be issued in advance of a tenancy agreement or completed EIA Rental Information Form.   The advanced security deposit will be issued at half of the inclusive EIA Rent Assist guideline rate, unless the actual amount is known and is lower.

In cases where participants do not utilize advanced security deposit funds for the stated purpose, a completed tenancy agreement or EIA rental form will be required prior to a subsequent security deposit being issued.  The participant would not be eligible for an advanced security deposit for a period of six months. 

In cases where a first security deposit was issued and the EIA rental form or tenancy agreement show a lesser amount for the actual security deposit, an overpayment must be assessed unless the participant returns the difference.

Participants are expected to recover the initial security deposit from the first landlord within the 14-day prescribed time frame established by the Residential Tenancies Branch.  The participant is to be referred to the Residential Tenancies Branch if they do not receive their security deposit within the above time period.

All participants are allowed one security deposit per case.  Any subsequent security deposits issued may be recovered as an overpayment.  The new security deposit being issued is to be entered as the overpayment regardless of the amount of any previously issued security deposits. 
 

Security Deposits Paid by the Participant

The following policies apply to security deposits that were paid by the participant, whether before or during their enrolment.
  1. If a security deposit is returned to the participant by the landlord and another deposit is not required, the returned deposit:
    • Is to be applied to the allowable liquid asset exemption level for the family and is not to be deducted from the next benefit month’s budget as a resource unless the allowable liquid asset exemption level is already at its maximum;
    • if the liquid asset exemption level is at its maximum the returned security deposit is to be considered an available financial resource and deducted from the next benefit month’s budget; or
    • if the liquid asset exemption level only allows for a portion of the returned security deposit to be applied, the remaining amount is to be considered an available resource and deducted from the next benefit month’s budget.
  2. If a security deposit is returned to the participant in full or in part by the landlord, and the participant requires a deposit for new accommodations, a new security deposit is to be issued as a first security deposit by the Department.
  3. If a security deposit is not returned by the landlord and the participant requires a new deposit, the deposit is not to be entered as an overpayment as it is the first security deposit issued by the Department.
 
The Director may approve financial assistance for participant relocation and issue funds for security deposits where there is reasonable justification for the move (e.g., present residence uninhabitable, change in family size, lower rent at the new location, closer proximity to confirmed employment or training).
 

19.1.9 Shared Rent

Policy

Shared Rent (PDF 175 KB)

 

Rent Sharing

Rent sharing is defined as two or more units of people living together who share rental costs. Each adult who shares an accommodation is considered to be a separate unit, unless he or she is either legally married or living in a common-law relationship. This policy applies regardless of the co-tenants' source of income.
 
Verifying Occupancy in Rent Share Arrangements
When a participant is moving into a rent share arrangement, it is preferred that the lease name all renters as tenants. In situations where a landlord will not list all renters as tenants, alternate verification of occupancy and rent may be provided. Examples of alternate verification could include:
  • An EIA Rent Form signed by the landlord indicating the full rent of the unit, utility arrangements and that the participant is an occupant in the unit;
  • An amended copy of the original lease listing the participant moving into the unit as a rent share agreement that is initialled by the landlord; or,
  • Other written verification from the landlord confirming that the participant is an occupant in the unit and paying a share of the rent.
A land titles check can be conducted to verify ownership of the property prior to issuing shelter and utility costs if no other confirmation is available.
 

Occupancy/Number of Bedrooms

If a participant is sharing rent, the size of the unit or number of bedrooms should not be a consideration in approving shelter costs. A participant is eligible for their full share of the rent, up to the maximum EIA guideline rate, regardless of the size or amount of bedrooms in the unit.
 
To determine if the adults in a shared rent arrangement should be assessed for eligibility for income support together as a common-law couple, follow the policy outlined in Section 8.1.4.
 

Renting in an Owner Occupied Property

Participants residing in a unit occupied by the owner of the property may be allowed EIA rent guideline rates if food is not provided by the owner. Private rent rates apply in situations where the participant is a relative or non-relative of the owner. If the shared accommodation arrangement includes food provided by the owner, board and room rates for residing with relatives or non-relatives will apply.
 

Utility Arrangements in Shared Rent

EIA will provide funds for utilities in shared arrangements depending on the individual case circumstances. Staff can determine reasonable estimated utility amounts based on number of occupants and size of the unit when confirming rental information.
 
When determining utility arrangements, the following guidelines should be considered:
  • Estimated utility costs can be added to the budget based on the expected consumption, number of occupants in the unit and cost of the utility. If a participant is not named on the account, they are responsible to pay their portion of the utility costs to the tenant holding the account.
  • Utility funds will not be paid separately from rent for participants who are renting and sharing a unit with the owner of that property. Participants living in this type of arrangement are only eligible to receive the all utilities included shelter guideline rate appropriate for their family size, and are responsible to pay their portion of utility costs if required in their rental agreement.
  • Direct billing of utilities is discouraged in shared rent situations. Direct billing is possible only if ALL individuals paying rent in the unit are enrolled with EIA. If a participant’s EIA case closes, and they are continuing to reside at the same address, direct billing must be cancelled immediately.
 
Estimated utility costs can be reconciled with the actual costs if a participant provides their utility bills. In shared rent situations where a participant is not named on the account, reconciliation can be completed if the bills are provided by the account holder. If the account holder is unable or unwilling to provide the bills, the reconciliation cannot be completed. For information regarding utility see Section 19.2.1.
 

Agreement Breakdown

Participants must be advised that they may have to find alternate living arrangements should the arrangement break down and the total rent is in excess of the rental guideline. EIA will not pay additional shelter costs, in excess of the guideline, because of the failure of a shared rent arrangement.
 

19.1.10 Co-operative Share Purchases

EIA participants who require assistance to purchase share equity in housing co-operatives are eligible to receive one-half of the regular monthly housing charge, within the permitted rental guideline or approved excess, for the purchase of shares in a housing co-operative. This assistance is to be provided in lieu of a security deposit.
 

19.1.11 Mortgage Payments

Under Schedule B, section 2(a) of the Regulation, the director or designate may approve mortgage payments for new or re-enrolled participants where the combined principal, interest and current net taxes are comparable to the relevant rent guideline amount.
 
The participant must be advised upon enrolment of the shelter guideline amount and that each case involving homeowners is reviewed to determine the amount of financial assistance to be provided. Staff should obtain the necessary background information relating to both the mortgage and the participant's situation. Special attention should be given to situations where the aggregate of the payments exceed the rental guideline amount, there is little or no equity involved, or bank foreclosure is likely or in process.
 
The director or designate may approve:
  1. full mortgage costs for a reasonable period of time (normally four months) in order to allow the participant time to make alternate arrangements; or
  2. less than the full mortgage costs on a permanent basis; or,
  3. the full mortgage costs on a permanent basis; or
  4. mortgage payments in excess of the relevant guideline.
Financial assistance, which covers the cost of the principal portion of a mortgage payment and tax arrears, is lien refundable.
 
See also section 24.1.2 for a description of lien registration.
 

19.1.12 Net Property Taxes as a Basic Need

Shelter costs for participants who are homeowners are provided under Schedule B, Section 2(a) of the Regulation which states that:

(a) the total cost of current taxes on the home and principal and interest on a mortgage and any condominium fees, trailer pad fee or other land rental charges up to the maximum amount that would be payable to a renter under Items 1A and B, or an amount up to the total actual cost of those applicable charges, at the discretion of the minister or any person authorized by the minister, in accordance with terms and conditions that may be prescribed by the minister;

EIA will consider net property taxes as part of the monthly shelter needs:
  1. at all times for participants whose taxes are included in the mortgage payment (e.g., principal, interest, taxes)
  2. only when taxes are determined to be a need for participants whose taxes are not included in the mortgage payment (e.g., principal, interest only). Need is determined to be effective from:
    • the date of enrolment on assistance, if taxes have not been paid by the applicant for that calendar year; or,
    • January 1st of the year following enrolment, if taxes have been paid for the year of enrolment.
NOTE: Municipalities assess property taxes based on the calendar year. The due date for taxes varies with individual municipalities.
 

19.1.13 Property Taxes Included in Mortgage Payment

 When the property tax amount is included in the mortgage payment, only 1/12 of the net tax amount is to be allowed in the PIT payment. Lending institutions/mortgagees use various methods to determine the tax portion of the PIT payment. For example, the mortgagee may determine the tax payment based on gross taxes for the first year and based on the net tax amount for subsequent years. The lending institution may place any balance (gross minus net taxes) in the participant's/mortgagor's tax account. Staff must ensure that the lending body uses the amount accumulated in the tax account towards taxes for the next year and not towards payment of the principal and interest. Staff will:
  1. Upon enrolment, verify with the applicant/mortgagor whether the mortgage payment consists of PIT.
  2. If taxes are included in the payment, determine how the applicant/mortgagor calculates the amount of taxes (i.e., whether based on net or gross taxes) and advise the participant that net property taxes will be allowed as a shelter need.
  3. At enrolment and on a yearly basis, obtain a copy of the most recent property tax statement and a copy of the lending institution's/mortgagee's statement to the participant/mortgagor. The latter statement will detail the monthly portion of principal, interest and taxes, plus any other amounts (e.g., insurance).

19.1.14 Property Taxes Not Included in Mortgage Payment

Net property taxes are to be prorated commencing the first day of the month in which taxes are determined to be a need (1/12 of the net taxes allocated to each month).
 
Taxes are to be disbursed on a monthly basis as a budgeted item either directly to the participant or to the municipality for participants unable to manage their own affairs.
 

19.1.15 Savings Incurred from Pre-Payment of Taxes

Some municipalities may allow credits for early payment of taxes. These credits may be used to offset any existing tax penalties incurred by the participant. Participants should be encouraged to pre-pay taxes, where possible to maximize saving and tax credits.
 

19.1.16 Annual Tax Reconciliation and Case Closure

 Net taxes must be reconciled once a year, at the due date, in December, or at case closure. As part of the Annual Review, the method and amount of property taxes disbursed must be examined to ensure that proper reconciliation has occurred.
 
Reconciliation must ensure that property taxes are disbursed on a monthly basis when determined to be a need. The monthly assistance is equal to 1/12 of the annual net property tax amount for the period of enrolment, excluding any pre-payment credits or late payment penalties.
 
If the budgeted amount of net taxes is insufficient, a deficit payment may be issued as a non-continuous need.
 

19.1.17 Tax Arrears and Penalties

Payment of Arrears

EIA will pay property tax arrears and associated penalties in order to prevent the participant from losing his or her shelter if it is considered to be practical to retain the shelter (e.g., shelter is of value or does not require extensive repairs).
 
The EIA office must verify the final notice of tax sale of the property with the municipality, prior to requesting authorization from the Minister or Minister's designate to pay tax arrears.
 
Accrued tax arrears and penalties on property owned by a participant may be paid in a lump sum on authorization of the Minister or the Minister's designate. If granted, the total amount shall be secured for recovery by lien in accordance with Schedule B, section 2 of the Assistance Regulation and Section 21 of The Manitoba Assistance Act.
 

19.1.18 (deleted)

 

19.1.19 Minor Repairs

"Minor repairs" are those which do not exceed $200.00 per fiscal year. Such costs are not recoverable by lien. Assistance is provided for such expenses necessary to the upkeep and maintenance of a participant's home (e.g., furnace cleaning, sewer pipe cleaning, furnace safety checks and eaves trough cleaning).
 

19.1.20 Major Repairs

"Major repairs" are those which exceed $200.00 per fiscal year as defined by section 1(1) of the Regulation. The director or designate may approve major repairs up to $3,000.00 per fiscal year for the cost of essential major repairs to the applicant's or participant's home. Amounts in excess of $3,000.00 per fiscal year continue to require approval of the Program Specialist.
 
Typical projects under this provision include:
  1. Repairs to roof or foundation.
  2. Repair or replacement of heating system.
  3. Repair or improvement of electrical or plumbing system to comply with municipal regulations.
  4. Alteration, addition to, or reconstruction of original housing where current structure is inadequate and moving is not feasible. Application to the RRAP program is expected for these types of repairs.
  5. Extermination of bed bugs.
Participants who request essential home improvement repairs are to provide three cost estimates containing sufficient detail about the cost of the repairs (e.g., material and labour). Less than three cost estimates may be provided in regions with few suppliers.
 
If approved, such costs are to be secured for refund by lien in accordance with Schedule B, section 2(e) of the Regulation. The lien amount may be reduced by some unused portion or all of the $200.00 minor repair assistance.
 

19.1.21 Remote Housing Program (RHP)

Rental-Purchase Agreements

Where a participant is a tenant in a house provided through Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation's Remote Housing Program, shelter costs shall be granted as to any renting participant. Exceptional requests for major or minor repairs in these cases are to be submitted to the Program Specialist.
 

19.1.22 House Insurance

Schedule A, section 2(c) of the Regulation makes provisions for payment of insurance at actual cost for homeowners.
 
Assistance granted to homeowners for insurance purposes shall not exceed premiums payable on a "house only" policy. Assistance may be granted for a "house and contents" policy if the premiums are equivalent or lower than a "house only" policy.
 

19.1.23 Rural and Native Housing Program

The Rural and Native Housing (RNH) Program is a joint federal-provincial program responsible for providing low-cost housing, both rental and privately owned in designated areas of the province. Manitoba Housing assumed the responsibility for the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) property management agreements. Under the terms of the Property Management Agreements, Sagemace Housing Incorporated and the Wabowden Housing Board Incorporated manage the RNH units in the communities of Camperville and Wabowden, respectively. Manitoba Housing is responsible for the administration and management of the balance of the RNH Program.
 

Rental

As of July 1, 2009, the monthly shelter rates for the RNH Program have been standardized to be the same as public housing shelter rate guidelines. (See: Section 19.1.3 public housing shelter rates). Rent payments are due on or before the first day of each month and are to be made payable to the agency that is responsible for collecting the rent payments in approximately 170 communities:
 
Community of Camperville Community of Wabowden All Other Communities *

Sagemace Housing Inc.

 Box 11

Winnipeg, MB   R0L 0J0

(204) 524-2507

Wabowden Housing Board Inc.

Box 279

Wabowden, MB   R0B 0R8

(204) 689-2306

Manitoba Housing

#202-280 Broadway Ave.

Winnipeg, MB   R3C 0R8

1-866-377-0372

 
The lease agreement determines whether or not the tenant is responsible for payment of the utilities as it may vary by each unit.
 
The RNH program has grandfathered only a few leases with the option to purchase. In these instances the unit is considered as a rental and Manitoba Housing continues to provide the necessary maintenance and repairs to the unit. When the occupant is prepared to pay Manitoba Housing the outstanding balance, a mortgage is obtained with a private lender before the ownership is transferred with the Land Titles Office. Once the unit is transferred to their names, the maintenance becomes the responsibility of the owner.
 

Homeowner

All RNH homeowners will have their properties registered in their names with the Land Titles Office. Although their mortgages are held with either CMHC or MHRC, Manitoba Housing is responsible for the administration and collection of all mortgages and/or arrears. In addition, the property taxes are paid by Manitoba Housing.
 

Down Payments

EIA does not provide down payments for home ownership. The RNH Program is responsible for providing housing to eligible persons and is responsible for their down payment policy.
 

19.1.24 RentAid Transition Bonus

The RentAid Transition Bonus is available for General Assistance single adults and couples without children, who leave EIA for employment or who are transitioning off EIA to an Employment Manitoba living allowance, and who are living in private rental accommodation when their EIA case file closes. It is meant to ease the transition to employment or training by providing some continued support towards the cost of rent after EIA benefits end. Eligibility for the benefit requires that the participant has been in receipt of EIA benefit for at least 3 consecutive months prior to transitioning to employment or an Employment Manitoba living allowance. The benefit is $110 per month, per adult and is provided for 24 total months in a person’s lifetime. In the case of a couple whose EIA file is closing to employment, only one adult in a couple needs to be employed for both adults to be eligible for the benefit.
 
Changes in an individual’s circumstances within the 24 month benefit period does not change a person’s eligibility for this benefit, except where a person moves out of Manitoba or re-enrolls on EIA. For example, if a person marries or has a child, moves from private rent accommodations, or receives a single grant they would continue to be eligible for the full 24 months.
 
People who receive the benefit for a period of time that is less than 24 cumulative months may be eligible to receive the RentAid Transition Bonus a subsequent time but only for the remainder of the 24 month period that they did not receive the benefit. The three month eligibility requirement does not apply to participants receiving the RentAid Transition Bonus for the second or subsequent time.
 

19.2.1 Reconciliation of Estimated Utility Costs

Policy

 
Schedule B, section 1(D) of the Regulation provides authority for the estimated monthly cost of utilities (i.e., water, light, fuel and rental or instalment payments on essential appliances) to be paid based on actual expenditures for the previous 12 months. Where circumstances have changed such that this estimate is no longer valid, the estimated costs for the next 12 months may be used.
 
Estimated billings should be reconciled to the actual billings during the Annual Review process, or more often if necessary. Overpayments should be recovered in the usual manner and underpayments reimbursed to the participant through a deficit payment. The estimate should be readjusted at this time to reflect actual expenditures.
 
Every reconciliation should encompass no more than the previous 12 months. Any overpayments which occurred over a year ago and were not detected during a previous Annual Review should not be recovered unless there is sufficient evidence to indicate that the overpayment was not detected previously due to an act of omission (e.g., not submitting utility bills) or commission (e.g., fraud or misrepresentation) on the part of the participant. Similarly, any underpayments, which were not reconciled in a previous Annual Report, should not be reimbursed unless the underpayment was not reconciled previously as a result of staff error.
 
When utility costs are based on estimated expenditures for the next 12 months, staff should ensure that the participant is actively involved in determining the estimate. Participants should be advised that estimated utility costs will be reconciled to the actual billings as part of the Annual Review process, with overpayments being recovered and underpayments being reimbursed with deficit payments. In order to avoid large overpayments or deficit payments after the Annual Review, participants should be encouraged to monitor their utility billings and to advise staff if the estimate appears to be inaccurate so that the estimate can be adjusted to avoid these situations. Staff may also choose to monitor the estimated utility costs by reconciling actual expenditures and payments for a period of less than 12 months.
 

19.2.2 Rental and Purchase of Essential Utility Appliances

Utility rentals may be allowed as part of the monthly utility costs.
 
Payments for the purchase of items such as furnaces, hot water tanks and rewiring costs are subject to minor or major repair provisions and must not be considered as monthly utility costs.
 

19.2.3 Home Insulation Program

Outstanding loans acquired through the Home Insulation Program by home-owning participants may be repaid as part of the monthly utility costs.
 
Loan payments are not to exceed $9.33 per month and will be exempt from all income assistance repair lien provisions.
 

19.2.4 Critical Home Repair Program

Loans obtained under the former Critical Home Repair Program may still be outstanding and should be considered as a legitimate expense.
 
Loan payments may have been included in the monthly budget or may have been paid in one lump sum depending on circumstances. If paid in the monthly budget, any principal repayment is lien refundable. If paid in a lump sum, the approval of the Minister or the Minister's designate as a major repair is required, and the amount is lien refundable. In both cases, the amount refundable is exclusive of the $200.00 allowed for minor repairs. See section 19.1.20 for a description of the "Major Repairs" policy.
 

19.2.5 Coin-Operated Laundry Rates

Where the use of alternative laundry facilities is not feasible, assistance to cover the cost of using coin-operated laundry facilities may be included in the monthly budget as a utility cost, under Schedule A, section 3 of the Regulation, for households with disabilities, aged, crisis facility and special dependant care households.
 
Effective May 1, 1996, assistance for laundry costs will no longer be provided to households not enrolled under one of these categories, unless this cost was included in their budget for April 1996. These latter households may continue to receive laundry assistance for the duration of their current enrolment.
 
Households, enrolled under a category that is not eligible for laundry assistance, may receive assistance for laundry as a health need when warranted by special circumstances, such as a medical condition or a child with a disability.
 
The actual cost of using coin-operated laundry facilities may be authorized, within the following guidelines:
 
Household Size Maximum Assistance
1 Person $ 12.00
2 Persons $ 15.00
3 Persons $ 18.00
4 Persons $ 24.00
5 Persons or more $ 30.00
 
These guidelines represent the upper limit of monthly coin-operated laundry rates by household size. Directors or designates may exceed these limits in exceptional cases.