Living in public housing

What happens when I get into public housing and how long can I live there?

If the property suits your needs, you and the landlord will sign a tenancy agreement. The agreement sets out your rights and responsibilities and the landlord’s rights and responsibilities.

If you don’t accept the offer and don’t have a good reason for doing so, your eligibility for public housing will be reviewed and you may be taken off the social housing register. Your decision to not take a suitable property without a good reason will show that you don’t have a serious and immediate housing need. 

If you reapply for public housing within 13 weeks your decision to decline a suitable property will be part of our assessment of your need for public housing. 

When you move into public housing, you can stay for as long as you remain eligible.

We will review your circumstances and tenancy regularly. This will help us make sure the property you live in is still suitable for you, or identify if you no longer need public housing.

You need to let us know straight away about any changes in your circumstances that may affect the amount of rent you pay, your continued eligibility for public housing, or your particular need for the property you're in. You must do this even if you're paying market rent.

You can tell us about any changes by calling Work and Income on 0800 559 009 or Senior Services on 0800 552 002.

If you don't let us know, you could end up paying the wrong amount of rent, and may have a debt to pay back, or you could be prosecuted.

If you have any questions or concerns about the house (such as repairs that need to be done), contact your landlord.

If you have a problem paying your rent, you also need to talk to your landlord.

If you no longer need public housing, we’ll make sure you know what help you can get to find a house with a private landlord, or buy your own home.

How much rent will I pay?

If you get a public housing property, the amount of rent you pay will be based on your income and the income of people living with you at the time you accept a housing offer. We’ll work out the rate you’ll pay in rent to your landlord.

You need to let us know straight away about any changes in circumstances that might affect the amount of rent you pay, your ongoing need for the place you’re living in and your eligibility for social housing more generally. This includes changes in circumstances of both you and your partner, and of other tenants in the property and their partners.

To advise us of a change in circumstance, call us at Work and Income on 0800 559 009 or Senior Services on 0800 552 002.

If you disagree with our decision about your income-related rent, talk to us. We may be able to solve the problem or explain the decision. If you still disagree, you can apply for a review of decision.