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Currently thousands of family-sized public housing properties are occupied by small households, often by single people and couples. At the same time, there are many families on the housing waiting list who need those larger properties.

So we can help more families waiting for public housing, a high priority is given to tenants living in a public housing home which is larger than they need who want to transfer to a smaller property.

In addition, a vacant bedroom charge will be applied to tenants who choose to continue to live in a property that has more bedrooms than they are entitled to when they have been offered alternative accommodation. This is to ensure we have a fair system for all.

What is a vacant bedroom charge?

A vacant bedroom charge is a reduction in a tenant’s rental subsidy which means that the rent payable per week will increase.

The vacant bedroom charge will be applied per household:

  • $20 a week per household if there is one person aged 16 years and over, or
  • $30 a week per household with two people or more aged 16 years and over.

When is a vacant bedroom charge applied?

DCJ Housing will apply the vacant bedroom charge when:

  • a tenant requests a transfer due to under-occupancy and then refuses two reasonable offers of alternative accommodation or
  • DCJ Housing asks a tenant to relocate due to under-occupancy and they refuse outright to move or refuse two reasonable offers of alternative accommodation.

The vacant bedroom charge is only applicable to public housing tenants and is not applicable to tenants of community housing or Aboriginal Housing Office properties.

Under the Social Housing Management Transfer program, if you are currently being charged the Vacant Bedroom Charge by DCJ Housing and the management of the property is transferred to a community housing provider, you will continue to pay this charge until the end of your lease or you move into a smaller dwelling.

How do I know if I am under-occupying a property?

The following table shows the standard bedroom entitlement for public housing households.

If you have more bedrooms than you are entitled to, the property is considered under-occupied. For example, if you are a single person with no dependents living in a three or four bedroom property, you are under-occupying the property.

There are also exceptions under the DCJ Housing bedroom entitlement policy where a tenant may be able to live in a property that has additional bedrooms such as when specialist medical equipment needs to be stored. Your local Client Service Officer will be able to discuss these situations with you.

The table below outlines the standard bedroom entitlements for public housing:

Household type Standard bedroom entitlement
Single people Studio, one or two bedrooms
Couples One or two bedrooms
Single people or couples with one other household member Two or three bedrooms
Single people or couples with two other household members Two or three bedrooms
Single people or couples with three other household members Three or four bedrooms
Single people or couples with four other household members Three or four bedrooms
Single people or couples with five or more other household members Four bedroom or, if available, five or more bedrooms [*]
[*] Clients who have a five bedroom household complement will generally be offered a four bedroom property unless a five bedroom property is vacant when the client’s turn is reached. This is because of the limited availability of five bedroom accommodation.

What if I am under-occupying my property and wish to downsize?

You can request a transfer to a smaller property if you feel your home is too large to maintain or you have vacant bedrooms. As part of the new policy changes if you do ask to transfer you will now be listed as a priority on the NSW Housing Register, so you can downsize to a smaller home as soon as one becomes available. Please speak with your local client service team and they will work with you to find you a suitable property that meets your needs.

DCJ Housing may also ask you to relocate from your property to more suitably sized accommodation that matches your housing need. For more information see the relocating tenants for management purposes fact sheet.

What if I don’t agree with the decisions DCJ Housing has made?

You cannot appeal the decision to move to another property or appeal a decision to apply the vacant bedroom charge. However, if you can show that an offer of accommodation is not reasonable or disagree with any decision DCJ Housing made throughout the relocation process, you can request a formal review. To do this fill in the  review of decisions application available online or from your local DCJ Housing office.

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Last updated: 01 Nov 2019