Matching and Offering a Property to a Client Policy
Last published 13 Apr 2021
The social housing sector aims to promote a successful and sustainable tenancy when matching a client to a social housing property. In general, this means matching a client to a property that:
- is large enough for the client’s household, and
- meets any special needs of the client, so far as these are known, and
- assists the client to access special support services that they need, and
- makes the best use of available housing stock in a timeframe that balances the client’s need for stable housing with the costs to the housing provider of providing assistance. This includes ensuring that properties with specific features that are in high demand and short supply are only offered to those clients who need them. These features include:
- properties suitable for older people, or
- properties that have been built or modified to meet the needs of people with a disability, or
- in some areas, properties on the ground floor, properties with level access, or properties with yards.
Generally, a client will receive up to two reasonable offers of housing from their preferred social housing provider. This means that, where a client selects public housing and community housing as their preferred provider, they may receive offers from Department of Communities and Justice (DCJ), any of the community housing providers participating in Housing Pathways, or a combination of both.
A reasonable offer is when a property matches:
- the number of bedrooms the household requires;
- the allocation zone requested (the property may be in any suburb within the allocation zone);
- any other property features the client has been assessed as needing, for example: requirements relating to level access, stairs or steps; distance from services or facilities.
In some cases where a tenant is relocating for management purposes, or when a client has been approved for emergency temporary accommodation, they may receive only one reasonable offer.
Specific conditions and timeframes apply to tenants who are being relocated by DCJ for portfolio management purposes. For more information see Tenants relocating for portfolio management purposes.
A social housing provider will consider an offer of social housing reasonable if, based on the information provided by the client, the offer meets the client’s known housing needs. The provider making the offer will determine the reasonableness of the offer in accordance with their own policies.
In some circumstances, a community housing provider who is not participating in Housing Pathways may make an offer of social housing to an applicant on the NSW Housing Register. An offer of social housing made by a non-Housing Pathways provider is not counted as one of the offers the applicant is entitled to under Housing Pathways and it does not impact on their position on the NSW Housing Register. However, if the applicant accepts the offer, and signs a tenancy agreement with that provider, they will be removed from the NSW Housing Register.
The intent of this policy is to explain how social housing providers, match and offer a social housing property to a client. The Social Housing Eligibility and Allocations Policy Supplement provides further information to support this document.
This policy applies to all applicants on the NSW Housing Register, and all offers of social housing made by Housing Pathways providers.
3. Policy statement
Social housing providers expect clients to provide accurate and up to date information about their housing needs so that providers can appropriately match the client to a property that meets those needs. This means that:
- A client who is on the NSW Housing Register must tell a social housing provider if their contact details or anything in their situation that is relevant to their housing needs changes.
- A social housing provider can ask clients for updated information at any time while they are on the NSW Housing Register.
- If a client does not respond to contact from a social housing provider their application will be closed.
For further information about management of social housing applications see Managing the NSW Housing Register Policy.
Matching a client to a social housing property
Individual social housing providers are responsible for allocating their own vacant properties in accordance with their own matching policies. When a vacancy occurs, the social housing provider who manages the property will allocate it, in line with their matching policy, to the next appropriate person on the NSW Housing Register.
The NSW Housing Register is a single list of approved clients waiting for social housing. The NSW Housing Register lists clients according to their required housing location, their approval category and approval date.
When a social housing provider matches a client to a property on the NSW Housing Register, it relies on:
- information supplied by the client about their housing needs, and
- decisions made by the provider based on an assessment of the information supplied by the client, and
- information about the property.
The criteria a social housing provider uses to match a client to a property will depend on the:
- ownership of the property, and
- location of the property, and
- type of property, and
- number of bedrooms in the property, and
- individual eligibility and matching policies of the provider.
Social housing providers will match clients according to their own matching policies.
Generally, social housing providers will house clients in the following order:
- clients approved for emergency temporary accommodation
- clients approved for urgent housing and clients approved for transfers or relocations on the grounds of under-occupancy
- elderly clients (clients who are aged 80 and over, or 55 and over if Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander)
- clients approved for a transfer on a priority basis, or clients being relocated for management purposes
- clients approved for wait turn housing and wait turn transfer.
Each community housing provider has an allocation policy that is available to the public. The matching policy of a social housing provider is an important consideration because providers may have slightly different prioritisation rules and, in some cases, additional eligibility criteria. For example, a community housing provider who only provides housing to single women will be able to pass over a person with a higher priority if they are not a single woman.
In general, DCJ managed properties are available to any applicant on the NSW Housing Register whose need matches the property. However, some properties are only available to a client group with a specific need. For example, a public housing senior communities property will only be offered to an older client.
Matching a client to a community housing property
Community housing providers will apply their own entitlement and matching policies when identifying a suitable client for an available property. These entitlements may differ between community housing providers and/or public housing. Clients wishing to find out information about entitlements for community housing properties, for example, the number of bedrooms that may suit their household, should contact their local community housing provider.
Offering a property to a client
Who will make an offer and how many offers will be made at the one time?
Under Housing Pathways, clients applying for housing assistance and tenants seeking a transfer can generally indicate their preferred housing provider(s). This means clients will receive offers of accommodation from their preferred provider only. However, where appropriate, for example in areas of low demand or where a client has a critical housing circumstance, a client may receive an offer of accommodation from a non-preferred provider. Before making any such offer, the prospective client’s preferred provider will seek their agreement to the client receiving an offer from a non-preferred provider.
Clients will only receive one offer of accommodation at any point in time. This means that they should not be offered a property managed by one social housing provider at the same time as being offered a property managed by a different social housing provider.
Contacting the client and/or a third party about an offer
The offer process begins when a social housing provider selects a client from the NSW Housing Register as a suitable match for an available property. The social housing provider will usually contact the client or authorised person or agency by phone or, if unable to contact the client, they may send a letter by standard post or by express post requesting that the client contact the provider urgently.
The social housing provider will expect the client or authorised person or agency to respond to this contact within the specified timeframe. This timeframe will vary from provider to provider.
For an offer of public or Aboriginal Housing, the client will have two days to respond to this request for contact.
Under some formal agreements, social housing providers must notify the support agencies when making an offer to confirm that the property is suitable and that the support of the agency will continue to be available for the client once they have accepted the property.
Before an offer can be made, the social housing provider will reconfirm the client’s eligibility to receive an offer and, if eligible, advise the client of the type and length of lease that they will offer. This will differ, depending on the individual policies of each social housing provider and based on an assessment of the clients circumstances
In cases where former public housing tenants are required to pay a bond, DCJ Housing will advise the client of the bond amount to be paid at the time of offer.
If a client does not respond to contact
If the client does not respond to attempts to contact them to determine eligibility to receive an offer, the offer is counted as reasonable and will count towards the total number of offers the client is entitled to receive.
If the client has a valid reason for not responding to requests for contact and can substantiate the reasons by meeting the criteria set out in Reactivating a closed application for social housing, or reinstating an offer due to the client not responding to contact, the client may have their offer reinstated.
When a client does not respond to requests for contact within a specified timeframe their application will be closed and their name will be removed from the NSW Housing Register and they will lose their previous waiting time. If this happens the applicant must submit a new application to be re-listed on the NSW Housing Register unless the applicant is able to meet the criteria for reactivating a closed application.
For more information go to Managing the NSW Housing Register Policy.
Timeframe to view and respond to an offer
After a social housing provider makes an offer, they will expect the client to view the property and, within a reasonable timeframe of receiving details of the offer, tell the provider if they will accept the offer. This timeframe will vary from provider to provider.
For an offer of public or Aboriginal housing, the standard timeframe is two days to view and respond to an offer of accommodation, except where DCJ extends the timeframe for a short time if the client requests it and has good reasons for making the request. For more information, go to Extension of timeframes.
For an offer of tenant relocating for portfolio management purposes, the tenant has two days to view the property and 14 days to respond and provide reasons if rejecting the offer of accommodation.
For an offer of community housing, the provider will advise the client about the timeframe for response at the time of making the offer.
If the client accepts an offer
If the client accepts an offer, the social housing provider will usually expect them to sign the tenancy agreement within a reasonable timeframe of accepting the offer. This timeframe will vary from provider to provider.
In most cases, for an offer of public or Aboriginal housing, clients must sign a tenancy agreement within seven days, except where DCJ extends the timeframe for a short time if the client requests it and has good reasons for making the request. For more information, go to Extension of timeframes.
In the cases of tenants relocating from Millers Point that have accepted an offer under the My Property Choice process, the tenant must sign the residential tenancy agreement within 24 hours.
For an offer of community housing, the provider will advise the client about the timeframe for signing the agreement at the time the client accepts the offer.
A social housing provider will remove the client from the NSW Housing Register when they have signed a tenancy agreement.
Where applicable, once a client has accepted an offer, DCJ is required to disclose property information under the provisions of Section 26 of the Residential Tenancies Act 2010 and Clause 7 of the Residential Tenancies Regulations 2010 prior to the client signing a tenancy agreement. Disclosure is required in instances such as where in the past five years the property has been subject to a flood or bushfire or a serious violent crime has occurred at the property.
If the client does not accept an offer
If the client does not accept the offer, the social housing provider will ask the client to provide their reason for rejecting the offer in writing. The client must provide this information within a reasonable timeframe. The timeframe will vary from provider to provider.
For an offer of public or Aboriginal housing, the client must provide their reasons for rejecting the property within 14 days.
See Tenants relocating for portfolio management purposes for specific timeframes that apply.
For an offer of community housing, the provider will advise the client about the timeframe for providing written reasons at the time the client rejects the offer.
When the social housing provider receives the information, or, if they do not receive the information within the allocated timeframe, the provider who made the offer will consider all the available information and decide whether the client’s response is:
- a rejection of a reasonable offer, which means the offer will count towards the number of offers the client is entitled to receive (in most cases two, but sometimes one), or
- a rejection of an unreasonable offer, which means that the offer will not count towards the number of offers the client is entitled to receive.
The social housing provider that made the offer will determine the reasonableness of the offer in accordance with its own policy. Each social housing provider has defined the situations in which it will regard an offer as accepted, rejected or withdrawn, and where it will suspend an application. For information on DCJ policy, go to Accepting, rejecting and withdrawing offers and suspending applications.
Community housing providers will advise applicants of their criteria for determining the reasonableness of an offer at the time they make the offer.
A client who is in receipt of a Private Rental Subsidy approved after 12 June 2012 and rejects their first reasonable offer, will have their subsidy terminated as they have been provided with a suitable alternative to resolve their housing needs. The client will still receive a second offer of social housing, however they will be expected to resolve their own housing need until they are allocated social housing.
Tenants relocating for portfolio management purposes
DCJ will make up to two offers of alternative housing to tenants being relocated for portfolio management purposes. Tenants will have two days to view a property and 14 days to respond to the offer and provide reasons if rejecting.
For first offers, tenants can apply to DCJ for an accelerated appeal within that 14 day timeframe if they reject the offer. See Client Service Delivery and Appeals Policy for more information.
All second offers of alternative housing made by DCJ to tenants being relocated for portfolio management purposes are made under Section 149 of the Residential Tenancies Act 2010. A Notice of Intention to Issue a Notice of Termination will be issued to the tenant at the same time DCJ makes the second offer.
Tenants will have two days to view a property and 14 days to respond to the offer and provide reasons if rejecting. Within that same 14 day timeframe, tenants may apply to DCJ for a review under Section 149 of the decision to terminate the tenancy. See Client Service Delivery and Appeals Policy for more information.
If a client rejects their final reasonable offer
The social housing provider who made the final reasonable offer will determine whether they should remove the client from the NSW Housing Register.
Public housing clients listed on the NSW Housing Register for a transfer or relocation on the grounds of under-occupancy will have a Vacant Bedroom Charge applied to their tenancy by adjusting the tenant’s rent subsidy when they reject the final reasonable offer of housing. For more information, go to Charging Rent Policy.
Removing a client from the NSW Housing Register
In some cases a social housing provider may remove a client’s application from the NSW Housing Register as a result of an offer. For more information go to Closing an application.
4. Legislation and compliance
Housing providers will match and offer properties in accordance with the provisions of the:
- Housing Act 2001
- Anti-Discrimination Act 1977
- Disability Discrimination Act 1992
- Occupational Health and Safety Act 2000
5. Related documentation
- Social Housing Eligibility and Allocations Policy Supplement
- Client Service Delivery and Appeals Policy
6. Further information
Appeals and review of decisions
If a client disagrees with a decision a social housing provider has made, they should first discuss their concerns with a staff member from the provider that made the decision. The next step, if they still believe the social housing provider made the wrong decision, is to ask for a formal review of the decision. For information on how reviews work, the client can ask the social housing provider for a copy of the fact sheet appeals and reviewing decisions, or read the Client Service Delivery and Appeals Policy. This policy applies, in general, to public, community and Aboriginal housing. The provider that made the decision will manage the appeal.
Clients may not appeal the following decisions:
- non-selection by a social housing provider for an offer of social housing
- removal of their application from the NSW Housing Register once an offer of social housing has been accepted.