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This information is for people living in Aboriginal Housing Office (AHO) properties or for Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander households in public housing.

Recognition as a tenant is when an Aboriginal or public housing tenancy is transferred to another eligible member of the household. This occurs when the tenant has left the property due to health reasons (for example, has entered a nursing home or an institutionalised care facility), has been imprisoned or has died.

The Department of Family and Community Services (FACS) provides recognition as a tenant to ensure that eligible household members will not be made homeless or forced to face hardship because the tenant has left the property or has died.

What are my options?

When the tenant is no longer living in the property, FACS can provide several options depending on your housing needs including:

  • a 6 month lease where you pay subsidised rent to give you time to look for new housing or
  • if eligible, the opportunity to apply for recognition as a tenant so you can continue living in public housing.

Who is eligible for a 6 month lease?

You can apply for a 6 month provisional lease if:

  • the tenancy has been handed back or has ended under the Residential Tenancy Act 2010
  • you are a member of the household or a formal or informal carers of the children or young persons in the household at the time of the event
  • you are an Australian citizen or permanent resident
  • you have lodged your application within 10 weeks from when the tenant:
    • left as a result of imprisonment; or
    • left due to health reasons such as entered a nursing home or institutionalised care facility; or
    • has died.

Once approved, the household’s income will be assessed and you will be asked to pay a subsidised rent to remain in the property.

Who is eligible for recognition as a tenant?

Aboriginal household members can apply to be recognised as a tenant if they are:

  • a spouse or a de facto partner (including same-sex partners)
  • formal or informal carers of the children or young persons in the household at the time of the event
  • other household members.

In general, you must be eligible for social housing and be an approved additional occupant of the property with a satisfactory history of occupation of at least 2 years; however, there are some exceptions. Please speak with your local FACS office to find out if these exceptions apply to you.

Further information on the eligibility criteria for recognition as a tenant can be found in the Changing a Tenancy policy.

How to apply?

To apply for recognition as a tenant you will need to complete the application for housing assistance and recognition as a tenant supplement form, available online or from any FACS office.

Once complete, you can return the form to your local office along with any supporting documentation (check the evidence requirements information sheet for more information about supporting documentation).

What happens next?

FACS will assess your application then send you a letter advising of the outcome.

If you are approved for recognition as a tenant, FACS will offer you a tenancy with a 2 year, 5 year, 10 year or continuous lease, depending on your circumstances. In most cases the tenancy you will be offered will be for the property you are living in.

In some cases you may be required to move to a property that better matches your housing needs. This may happen if the property you are in is too large for your needs or has been modified to suit a client with specific requirements.

If you are not approved, FACS may refer your application to the Aboriginal Housing Office for an assessment of the decision. If the AHO confirms your application has been declined, you are entitled to an independent review. If you gave written agreement on your application form, a review will be automatically conducted. If you would like additional information about your situation to be considered, you have 7 days to provide it to your local office. You can also request a review by filling out a review of decisions form available online.

If your application is reviewed and declined again, your file will be sent to the Housing Appeals Committee for an independent review.

For further information on the formal review process, please refer to appeals and reviewing decision.

If your appeal is unsuccessful, FACS will request that you move out of the property. You can apply for social housing assistance, including assistance to start a private rental tenancy. If you do not leave the property, FACS will commence action to terminate the tenancy at the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NCAT).

For more information on housing assistance options, see applying for social housing and Private Rental Assistance.

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