Darwin Community Legal Service

Department of Housing

Department of Housing offers public housing to people who have a low income.

Who can apply?
To be eligible to live in a Department of Housing (Housing) property you need to be, in most cases, over 16, have a low income and live in the Northern Territory.

Already renting?
If you have already applied or want to apply for a house with Housing you need to tell the owner or real estate agent of the house you are in now and make sure that they put a public housing “special condition” clause to your lease.

This means that they should let you out of your current agreement so that you can move into a public housing property if you need are offered one. If you want to make sure this is in your lease you can contact us at the Tenants’ Advice Service and we can check this for you.

How to apply
To apply for a Department of Housing property, you must complete an application form, available from their website or office. Housing can help you fill out the form and provide an interpreter if you need one.

To apply for housing you must provide:

  • Proof of income and assets
  • Proof you have been a Northern Territory resident for three months or more
  • Photo identification

If you cannot provide these then please speak to the Department of Housing as they may be able to help.

The waitlist
If you are approved to live in a Department of Housing property, your name will go on a waitlist. The waitlist is very long.

When you are on the waitlist you must tell the Department of Housing if you have any changes; especially if you change your address and/or mobile number. Housing will send you a letter to your last known address to see if you still want to remain on the waitlist and if you don’t answer they may try to call you and if you then don’t answer you might be taken off the list.

Priority housing
Priority housing is for people who have an urgent need for housing, usually because of:

  • homelessness or at risk of homelessness;
  • serious medical or social problems;
  • domestic and family violence;
  • or extreme financial disadvantage.

You need to have put in a Housing application. A Priority housing application is another form that you need to fill out and you also have to provide supporting letters and anything else you may be able to, to prove why you need urgent housing. Housing then make a decision and this may mean your waiting time for a house is shorter.

If you are unhappy with a decision made by Housing you can ask them to look at the decision again. Please come and see the Tenants’ Advice Service for advice if you want to do this.

Help with the bond (Security Deposit)
If you don’t have money for bond, you can apply for an interest free loan to help cover that money. If you are approved the money is paid straight to the landlord. You will be provided a letter which tells the landlord how much you will be paid and you can give this to the landlord so they can let you move in before the money might is given to them. You then have to pay that money back but in smaller amounts.

Rental rebates
When renting a public housing property, tenants need to fill out a form and give payslips or a Centrelink income statement on a regular basis to show how much you earn so that Housing can work out what rent you should pay. If you don’t fill the forms then you might have to pay more than you need to.

Contact Department of Housing:


Arnhem (Nhulunbuy) – (08) 8987 0533
Barkly (Tennant Creek) – (08) 8962 4497
Big Rivers (Katherine) – (08) 8973 8513
Central Australia (Alice Springs) – (08) 8951 5344
Greater Darwin – (08) 8999 8814
Palmerston – (08) 8999 4767

Darwin Community Legal Service 2019: Non-profit community groups have permission to reproduce parts of this publication as long as the original meaning is retained and proper credit is given to DCLS, as the publisher.

Disclaimer: The information contained in this publication is a guide to the law in the Northern Territory. It is not a substitute for legal advice. You should talk to a lawyer about your particular legal issue. The information contained in this factsheet is current as at November 2019.