Apply for public housing

What happens when a property becomes available

Public housing is allocated according to the wait list.

When you're nearing the top of the wait list, you will be asked to participate in a pre-tenancy interview.

You need to attend this interview before a formal offer can be made.

This interview makes sure your details are up to date.

Additional checks will be done to find out if your:

  • application information is still correct
  • entitlement needs to be re-assessed.

You need to provide two tenancy references to show you:

  • have a good history of paying rent
  • can maintain your property
  • have had no issues with antisocial behaviour.

You can use the following as references:

  • real estate agent
  • private landlords
  • other state housing authorities
  • supported accommodation services
  • hostels
  • community housing organisations.

Your application may be put on hold if you're unable to provide references or if your references are unsuitable.

How a reference is given

If you get a tenancy reference from an organisation or company such as a real estate agent, the company will need to write a letter to the Department of Territory Families, Housing and Communities.

The letter must be written on the company’s letterhead and must include the following information about your past tenancy:

  • the address of the property
  • the time the property was rented
  • the rent amount and rent payment frequency
  • if you were a signatory of the lease
  • if a notice to remedy was issued and why
  • if any damage was done to the property and if so, what damage
  • if there were any complaints from neighbours and if so, what complaints
  • if the bond was refunded in full and if not, why.

If you're getting a tenancy reference from a person (not a company), the person will need to fill in the housing tenancy reference form PDF (300.8 KB).

If you don't have references

If you can't supply a satisfactory tenancy reference, you can provide other documents that show the department you have the skills to sustain a tenancy.

These documents could include evidence of attending life skills or community support programs.

If you're unable to supply other relevant documents, the department may be able to recommend other options to help you.

When a suitable property becomes available and you have met conditions at the pre-tenancy interview, you will be contacted with a formal offer of a public housing property.

To accept or refuse the offer, you will need to contact the allocations officer at your local housing office within 24 hours of receiving the offer.

You can request to defer your application for up to six months, if you have reasonable grounds for doing so.

This may include:

  • holidays
  • possible job transfer
  • fixed-term lease on current private rental property
  • approved caretaker tenancies
  • medical requirements.

You may be asked to provide suitable letters or documents to support your request for a deferral.

If you refuse the offer, your application will be cancelled and you will be taken off the public housing waiting list.

The tenancy agreement is a legal document that gives details of your rights and responsibilities as a tenant along with those of the department, who is your landlord.

It is important you read and understand the tenancy agreement and keep a copy for your records.

If you have any difficulties understanding the agreement, you can contact your local housing office.

You can't move in until you have:

  • signed the agreement
  • paid the rent and bond money.

You must start your tenancy within seven business days from the date of accepting the offer of public housing.

If you or people living with you breach your tenancy agreement, you could have your agreement terminated and be made to leave the property.

A range of support programs are available to help you maintain a successful tenancy.

Read more about the tenancy support program.

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Last updated: 10 May 2021

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