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Headleasing Policy

1. Background

Headleasing refers to properties that the Department of Communities and Justice (DCJ) lease in the private rental market and then sub-lease to clients that have been approved for social housing.

Headleasing provides DCJ with an opportunity to meet excess housing needs that ordinarily would be met with existing housing stock. Factors such as demand exceeding the supply of housing stock in various locations, suitability of housing stock and the urgent nature of some housing needs all contribute to a need to Headlease properties.

There are two scenarios where Headleasing is utilised by DCJ:

  • short-term Headleasing where DCJ leases a property from the owner for a period of 6 months to 3 years to meet existing tenant needs
  • spot Headleasing where DCJ leases a property from the owner for a period of 6 months to 3 years to house clients that are approved for immediate or priority housing.

There are two types of lease arrangements for managing Headleases:

  • one lease is between DCJ and the landlord, and;
  • the other lease is between the tenant and DCJ.

The Residential Tenancies Act applies to both leases.

2. Scope

This policy applies to all tenants living in dwellings managed by DCJ, including tenants of the Aboriginal Housing Office (AHO).

3. Policy statement

Headleasing helps DCJ increase its supply of housing by leasing properties from the private rental market and then sub-leasing them to public housing tenants.

Business rules

Reasons to Headlease

Headleasing aids DCJ in meeting housing needs under various circumstances.

These consist of:

  • relocations to facilitate redevelopment projects, estate regeneration or property disposal
  • relocations for tenancy management purposes, for example families in rural areas where there are tenancy management issues
  • to meet unusual or specific tenant needs that cannot be met through DCJ housing stock and which may have low ongoing demand, for example large families or clients with specific mental health issues.

Types of properties

DCJ leases dwellings that are of a similar standard to the properties we own.

Generally the type of properties we Headlease are:

  • of the standard and condition that is appropriate to public housing tenants
  • able to meet the needs of our tenants including any special needs
  • of a market rental value that is considered fair and reasonable and is within the median rent for the area.

DCJ will only lease a property that contains a swimming pool in exceptional circumstances. If there is a specific demonstrated and documented requirement for a swimming pool the need will be assessed and a decision made. The swimming pool must comply with the Swimming Pools Act 1992.

The lease

The lease DCJ signs with the landlord will always contain a clause that allows DCJ to sub-lease the property continually and unconditionally for the duration of the lease.

When a tenant is housed in a Headleased property DCJ will tell them about the implications of providing a home in this way, including that they:

  • may have to move to another Headlease, move into a DCJ dwelling or take up a private lease when their fixed term lease expires
  • may be charged the cost to repair any damage caused deliberately or negligently
  • will not be permitted to make any additions or alterations to the property
  • will not be able to buy the property
  • may not be able to keep pets.

The Headleasing Factsheet provides further information about living in a Headleased property.

Inflatable or portable swimming pools may be allowed if the owner of the property approves the request and the installation of a safety fence. This is only required if the pool is capable of being filled with water to a depth greater than 300 millimetres. An inflatable or portable pool of this depth must be compliant with the Swimming Pools Act 1992 and the tenant must provide a copy of the compliance and registration certificate to DCJ.

Repairs and Maintenance

During the term of a Headlease, the owner is responsible for general repairs and maintenance to the property.  Any requests for maintenance or repairs will go through the Housing Contact Centre, who will manage the request and make contact with the relevant owner or managing agent.

Advantages of Headleasing

Headleasing provides a way to meet immediate needs without requiring additional capital funds, particularly in areas where long-term investment is not warranted.

Headleasing offers landlords advantages which can help DCJ negotiate lower than market rents. The advantages to private landlords include:

  • security of rental payments
  • defined rental period and;
  • return the property in the condition in which it was originally leased, apart from fair wear and tear.

4. Legislation and compliance

DCJ acquires and manages headleased properties in accordance with the Housing Act 2001 and the Residential Tenancy Act 2010.

DCJ is also bound by the DCJ Headleasing Guidelines and DCJ Statement of Business Ethics.

6. Further information

Appealing decisions or actions

Tenants who live in headleased properties may appeal decisions in the same way as tenants living in properties owned by DCJ. That is, if a client disagrees with a decision we have made, they are encouraged to speak to their Client Service Officer to seek a resolution of those concerns. The next step, if they still believe an incorrect decision was made, is to ask for a formal review of the decision.

For specific information on reviews, the tenant can ask a Client Service Officer for a copy of the fact sheet appeals and reviewing decisions, or read the Client Service Delivery and Appeals policy.

Tenants of Headleased properties cannot appeal if they are required to move from a particular Headlease property because the lease between DCJ and the private owner has expired. This decision is outside the control of DCJ.

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Last updated: 08 Sep 2021