Housing Assistance

Housing ACT provides long term, affordable rental housing for eligible people. It is affordable because the rent is worked out according to household income. Accommodation, available in most areas of Canberra, ranges from bedsitter flats to houses.

Can I get public rental housing?

To qualify for ACT rental housing you must:

  • meet an income test;
  • live in the ACT;
  • not own or have an interest in residential property anywhere in Australia;
  • be at least sixteen years of age;
  • be a permanent resident of Australia; and
  • not have cash or convertible assets over $40,000 (excluding ordinary household and personal effects and a car).

These conditions apply when you register for assistance, while you are on the applicant lists, and when you are allocated a home.

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Can I get a place straight away?

Probably not - unless you qualify for early allocation (see below). This is because there are always more people wanting public housing than there are places to live. So most people, once registered, go on the applicant lists. When you reach the top of the applicant lists you are offered a home, so long as you still meet the eligibility conditions above.

Just how long you will wait depends on the size of the home you are eligible for and its availability within the areas you have chosen. Some areas, particularly those closer to major shopping centres and facilities, are very popular and applicant lists times in those areas are longer.

What if I can’t wait to reach the top of the list?

Early allocation is available in certain urgent or special situations.

To qualify for early allocation you will have to show that your needs are more urgent than those of other people on the applicant lists. Other than in rare circumstances you must also have been living or working in the ACT for the last six months, and you must be registered on our applicant lists. You can apply for early allocation at the same time as you register.

If you wish to apply for early allocation you need to apply to the Gateway Services to be interviewed about your request. You will need to go in person to the Gateway Services, and will need to provide proof of your needs. We recommend that you make an appointment with the centre before you go in. This will ensure you do not have to wait in a queue with other people who may have turned up without an appointment.

In most cases early allocation applications are decided within two weeks of being requested.

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Do I need to do anything while I am on the applicant lists?

Periodically Housing ACT sends you a questionnaire asking you to update the information you provided on your housing application. It is important that you respond to the questionnaire. Otherwise, your application might be removed from the applicant lists.

If you are moving house, it is very important that you tell Housing ACT of the change of address. Otherwise we may not be able to find you when you reach the top of the applicant lists.

What happens when I reach the top of the applicant lists?

As soon as a home becomes vacant in the area of your choice, we invite you to inspect it. If you do not wish to accept this property, you will only be given one more offer of a home. If you reject both offers, your application will be removed from the applicant lists. If you are approved for early allocation you will be given only one offer of a home.

Note: It is in your interest to enter an agreement to repay any debts from a previous tenancy because you may not be allocated an Housing ACT property if you have any outstanding debts with Housing ACT.

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How much rent will I have to pay?

Your rent will be assessed at 25 per cent (one-quarter) of your total (gross) household income, or you will pay the full rent whichever is less.

What if my circumstances change?

If you change your address while you are on the applicant lists, please tell us. Otherwise you may miss out on the opportunity to be allocated accommodation when you reach the top of the applicant lists.

If any other circumstances change (eg, your household income or family size), you should seek a review of your entitlements by the Gateway Services. You will need to provide proof that your circumstances have changed.

It is important to advise us of any changes because you may be eligible for a different type of home.

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Points to remember

Your registration will date from the day Housing ACT accepts your application. Eligibility, including your income, may be checked at any time while you are on the applicant lists and it will be re-checked before an offer of housing is made.

Rental Rebate

What is Rental Rebate?

Through Housing ACT, public tenants are charged a market related rent on the property they occupy. The ACT Government provides a rental rebate subsidy to help you pay your rent. The subsidy helps ensure that housing remains affordable for low income people. It means that Housing ACT tenants are currently not required to pay more than 25 per cent of their gross (total) household income towards rent, even though the accommodation you are living in might be rented for a higher amount in the private rental market.

The rental rebate subsidy for your home is calculated on your household’s gross income.

Housing ACT advises tenants each year of any adjustment to the market-related rent on the property they occupy. The rent rebate subsidy and your contribution to the rent is advised each time your rent rebate application is assessed.

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Who can apply?

If you are a Housing ACT tenant and paying rent higher than 25 per cent of your household’s gross income in rent, you may be eligible for rental rebate assistance.

How do I apply?

You complete an application for a Rental Rebate and lodge it with Housing ACT. Forms are available from the Gateway Services, or you can contact your Housing Manager and ask for one to be sent to you. When you lodge your application you will need the following information:

  • proof of your current income and that of any other person/s living in your home;
  • statements of income earned over the previous 26 weeks, from all sources;
  • evidence from Centrelink, if you or any other person living in your household are receiving a pension and/or other Social Security Benefits, stating the type and amount of the benefit received;
  • proof that other household members do not receive an income. This means you may have to provide a statutory declaration or a letter from Centrelink stating that no income has been earned.

You need to provide proof of income and any other relevant information requested Housing ACT. This helps us to correctly assess your entitlement to a rent rebate subsidy.

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What is assessed as income?

Income includes all payments from all sources that come into your household. For example, Social Security benefits, pensions, overseas pensions, superannuation, child maintenance, welfare payments, Veterans' Affairs benefits, wages, overtime, allowances, bonuses, commissions, interest or other investment returns, self employment income from all sources and any other income paid to you and all other household members.

A Proof of Income form is included on the Rental Rebate application form and is also available on request.

If self employed provide a Tax statement or audited accounts including a Profit and Loss Statement.

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How long does a rental rebate continue?

Rebates are granted for 6 months. Towards the end of this period, Housing ACT will send you a reminder letter and an application for continuation of the rebate.

If you consider you are still eligible for the Rental Rebate, you should fill out and return the application promptly to ensure your rebate does not stop. In the absence of an application from you, the market-related rent on your property will be charged between the termination of an existing rebate and the return of your renewal application.

Proof of your household income must be provided with each application for the rental rebate to continue.

What if there are joint tenants?

The Application for Rental Rebate must be signed by all parties to the Tenancy Agreement. Where there are joint tenants of a home who sign the Tenancy Agreement, the incomes of the joint tenants are included to calculate the rent for the home. Individual incomes of any other household members may also be taken into account.

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What happens if my income or household circumstances change?

If your household income or other circumstances change, you must notify Housing ACT immediately as this in some circumstances may effect the level of rental rebate subsidy you are entitled to.

However, in most cases, where the tenants’ income increases during the existing six months period of approval your rebated rent will remain unchanged until your rebate is next renewed.

Please remember to provide accurate information on your personal and financial circumstances - withholding information or giving false information may be an offence.

Further Information

For copies of brochures contact Housing ACT

Go to Application information

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