Frequently asked questions and tips for applicants
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FACS Housing is committed to providing safe, low cost and culturally appropriate housing and tenancy services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in NSW.
What is the difference between public housing and Aboriginal Housing Office (AHO) homes?
There are two types of housing managed by FACS Housing:
- public housing – Aboriginal applicants have the same right to be housed in public housing as all other applicants
- AHO homes – these are properties owned by the AHO and looked after by FACS Housing.
- If you want an AHO home either you or a household member must be Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander. You will need to complete a declaration form
- If you fill in the declaration form, you can have your name put on the NSW Housing Register and AHO housing list.
Am I eligible for social housing?
To be eligible for social housing, which includes Aboriginal housing, you must:
- live in NSW
- have an income that is within current limits as outlined in the Income Limits factsheet
- not own, or part-own a home
- repay, or agree to repay, any outstanding money you owe to FACS Housing or AHO.
If you want an AHO home that is looked after by FACS Housing you must show proof of Aboriginality. You can do this by completing a FACS Housing, Aboriginal Housing Office Declaration form.
How do I apply for housing?
To apply for social housing, you should:
- read the Applying for Social Housing factsheet
- complete the Housing Pathways online application form
- visit your local FACS Housing office.
How long will I wait for housing?
When you apply for social housing we will let you know about how long the wait is in the area you want. The time you wait depends on things such as:
- the number of homes becoming available as others leave
- the number of people who’ve been waiting longer than you
- the number of people we have approved for priority housing or priority transfer because we will house these people before other people.
If it will be a long wait in the area where you want to live, you may like to pick another area so that you may be housed quicker.
Can I swap properties? - Mutual Exchanges (Swapping Homes)
The Mutual Exchange Program allows Family and Community Services (FACS) Housing tenants to swap their properties.
What happens if I am an unsatisfactory former tenant of FACS Housing or the AHO?
We will ask you to rent in the private market for at least six months. If you can rent in the private market with no problems, we will put your name back on the NSW Housing Register. When it is your turn to be housed, we will offer a lease of six months. If you breach the lease, no extension will be offered. If you are a satisfactory tenant over this time, we will offer to extend your lease for 2, 5 or 10 years.
How can FACS Housing help?
You need to be eligible for social housing to get other types of assistance. Aboriginal people can expect to receive respect, good service and correct information from FACS Housing staff. Find out about other services offered by FACS Housing .
FACS Housing has a Commitment to Improving Service Delivery to Aboriginal People which outlines the programs in place to help Aboriginal people and an action plan. This document is available on the FACS Housing website.
Through Rentstart Aboriginal people can apply for financial support to help them move into their own private rental property. To apply for Rentstart you will need to find an affordable place to rent.
If you qualify for a Rentstart Bond Loan, FACS Housing will help you out with an interest-free loan of up to 100% of the bond money so you can move into your own place.
If the landlord or real estate agent has not made a claim on the bond at the end of your tenancy, FACS Housing will return any money you have paid off your loan.
For more information about Rentstart Bond Loans, read the factsheet on the FACS website or visit your local FACS Housing or participating community housing provider office or call the Housing Contact Centre on 1800 422 322.
Help for homeless people
- If you don’t have a place to stay, you can get help from:
- your local FACS Housing office, Monday to Friday, 8.30 am–4.30 pm (closed public holidays and 8.30 am– 1pm on Wednesdays). Office hours may vary in some locations.
- the Temporary Accommodation Line on Freecall 1800 152 152
- The staff of the Temporary Accommodation Line may be able to help with a place to stay until your nearest FACS Housing office opens.
- The staff can help with accommodation in the Sydney city area and some NSW district areas.
Private Rental Subsidy
If you are approved for priority housing and have a disability or HIV/AIDS, and there are no homes available at that time, you may be eligible for help with your rent in a private rental home.
Housing Contact Centre
The Housing Contact Centre is the place to call if you need your AHO or FACS Housing home fixed. The Housing Contact Centre is open 24 hours, seven days a week, every day of the year. You can call the Housing Contact Centre on 1800 422 322.
Client Feedback Line
FACS Housing likes you to tell us about its services. You can tell us good things or if you have a problem with what we are doing. If the problem is about a staff member, a more senior staff member will look at it for you. You can call the Client Feedback Line on 1800 422 322.
Aboriginal Enquiry Line
An Aboriginal staff member of FACS Housing works on this phone line Monday to Friday. They can help you with your housing and rental issues. If an Aboriginal staff member is not there when you ring, you can leave a message. An Aboriginal staff member will call you back as soon as they can. You can talk to a non Aboriginal staff member if you want. You can call the Aboriginal Enquiry Line on 1800 422 322.
Tips on Tenancy
Help with tenancy issues
If you want to know more about what you need to do when you rent a home, talk to a client service officer or call the Aboriginal Enquiry Line. NSW Fair Trading will also help you with problems if you are renting. You can ring them on Freecall 1800 500 330. You can also contact your local Aboriginal Tenancy Advocacy Service.
If you are having any troubles with tenancy issues and need some more help you can sign a disclosure form. This means that we can talk to your support person or worker with your permission.
Paying the rent
You can pay your rent:
- through the Rent Deduction Scheme
- at Australia Post
- at a Service NSW Centre
- by direct debit from your bank account.
The Rent Deduction Scheme is an easy way to pay rent if you receive Centrelink payments. This lets you have rent taken from your payment and sent straight to FACS Housing. If you are having trouble paying your rent, speak to your client service officer as soon as possible. Tell them what is happening and work out a way to fix it.
Enjoying your home
You have the right to enjoy your home and live without noisy and rude neighbours. We want you to feel safe in your home. If you are having trouble, try to sort out the problem with your neighbour. If this does not work, talk to your client service officer at your local FACS Housing office about what is going on.
Friends and family can come and stay with you for up to four weeks. If they stay longer than four weeks and you want them to stay in your home, you must fill in an Application for Additional Occupant. If you do not tell us when someone else is staying with you for longer than four weeks, the help we give with the rent could be stopped. If someone moves into your home full-time and you do not tell us, this is fraud.
In general, tenants do not need FACS Housing approval to have a visitor stay with them for up to four weeks (28 days). However, in certain cases, FACS Housing can apply a visitor sanction (three-day rule) to a tenancy. This means that if FACS Housing has proof that you haven’t kept to your tenancy agreement, FACS Housing can stop you having visitors staying for more than three days without telling FACS Housing.
If you live in an AHO home, then the AHO must also agree to this visitor sanction. This approval from the AHO will be managed by your FACS Housing client service officer.
Leaving your home for more than six weeks
If you need to leave your home for more than six weeks, you must tell FACS Housing how long you will be away by contacting your client service officer or writing to us. You will need to tell FACS Housing even if there are other family members in your home while you are gone.
Leaving your home for good
If you are leaving your home and aren’t planning to come back, you should tell your client service officer three weeks before you go. If you leave without telling us, you will still have to pay the rent and may have to pay for any damages that happen.
If you have any rubbish at your home, you will need to remove it properly. Please do not burn rubbish in the garden or yard. Please phone the Housing Contact Centre as soon as possible on 1800 422 322 if any repairs need to be done in your home. If you have anyone over to visit in your home and they damage it, you will have to pay for the repairs.
Being a good neighbour
Please make sure that all household members and visitors respect your neighbours’ right to peace and quiet.
If you have a pet, you must make sure the pet is not causing a problem to others. If we decide that your pet is causing problems for neighbours, you must remove the pet from your home within 48 hours of FACS Housing sending you a message in writing.
FACS Housing has factsheets on a range of tenancy and other issues, including:
- transferring to another FACS Housing or AHO home
- succession of tenancy
- fixed-term leases
- termination of your lease
- appeals and review of decisions
- Rentstart Bond Loans Housing for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People
All these issues and others are dealt with in specific factsheets that are available from the FACS Housing website.
Are all your questions answered?
If all your questions have not been answered:
- contact your local FACS Housing office
- call 1800 422 322
- visit the FACS Housing website.
- For more information about the Aboriginal Housing Office, visit their website on www.aho.nsw.gov.au
- For information about the Aboriginal Tenants’ Advice and Advocacy Program (TAAP) resource services, refer to the NSW Fair Trading website on www.fairtrading.nsw.gov.au.
It is also illegal for you or anyone else to offer money or favours or other benefits of any kind to an officer of FACS Housing in exchange for helping you. If you have any information regarding this, please contact Business Assurance on 1800 422 322. FACS Housing may refuse the provision of further housing services to anyone who has engaged or sought to engage in corrupt or illegal conduct.