Public housing

Rent and other charges

All tenants of public housing properties pay rent and some may also be required to pay excess water charges. Department of Housing charges rent and excess water in accordance with the provisions of the Residential Tenancies Act , the Housing Act and its Regulations.


There are two different types of rent – market rent and rebated rent.

1. Market Rent

Market Rent is based on an annual Australian Valuation Office report and is reviewed annually by the Minister. Market rents vary across suburbs and towns in the Territory. To view the market rent for your local area please read the Housing Operations Manual - Public Housing Rents.

Tenants who are accessed as ineligible for public housing during regular eligibility checks must pay the market rent for the remainder of the fixed term lease.

If your income from employment has increased you may be eligible for the Employment Incentive Scheme.

2. Rental Rebates

Department of Housing operates a scheme where eligible tenants pay a contribution towards the Market Rent of a property that is based on a percentage of the household income. This results in tenants only contributing an amount towards the rent that is affordable.

Eligibility for a rental rebate is based on the eligibility criteria for public housing.Tenants eligible for a rental rebate are charged rent based on a percentage of the householdincome

Further information is available from the Rental Rebate fact sheet PDF icon  134 KB and the Public Housing Eligibility Criteria fact sheet PDF icon  154 KB .

Maximum household income and asset limits

Household size Gross income limit per week Household asset limit for all new applicants and existing tenants under 55 years Household asset limit for existing tenants over 55 years
1 $766 $54,057 $194,396
2 $995 $77,129 $194,396
3 $1,158 $122,158 $273,509
4 $1,329 $122,158 $273,509
5 $1,493 $122,158 $273,509
6 $1,661 $122,158 $273,509

Why do I need to apply for a rental rebate?

You need to apply for a rental rebate subsidy so that Department of Housing can make an assessment of your circumstances to ensure you remain eligible and entitled to public housing and rental rebate and to make sure you are being charged the correct rent.

How is a rebate calculated?

Your rental rebate is based on a percentage of your household’s assessable income. Different percentages are calculated for different household members and income sources. The percentages used are outlined below:

Household member Percentage of assessable income paid for rent

Primary tenant and spouse
or de facto partner

23 percent
(excludes Family Tax Benefit Part A and
Child Maintenance Payments which are 10 percent)

Aged pensioners

18 percent
(excludes Family Tax Benefit Part A and
Child Maintenance Payments which are 10 percent)

Additional household
members aged 18-24

10 percent

Additional household
members aged 25+

20 percent

How to apply for a Rental Rebate

To apply for a rental rebate, please complete the Rental Rebate application form PDF icon  45 KB .

How often do I renew my rental rebate?

Rental rebates are assessed when you first sign up as a tenant. You are then required to re-apply for rental rebate subsidy at regular intervals. This time period is dependent on the type of income received. If your family circumstances or household income changes, you are required to notify Department of Housing and apply for a reassessment of your rental rebate.

What if my family circumstances or household income changes - do I lose my rental rebate?

This is determined on a range of criteria and is reviewed on a case-by-case basis.

A tenant whose income rises above the set limits may remain in their house for the duration of the fixed term lease but will be charged public housing market rent. This is because tenants whose household income is above these limits are deemed to be able to afford the nationally accepted benchmark for rent, without receiving a rebate or discount.

Some tenants, whose income has increased, may also be eligible for participation in the Employment Incentive Scheme.

Outside of normal renewal periods you must inform us within 28 days should people move in or out of your house or either of the following applies:

  • a household member starts or stops work or has a wage increase
  • a household member has a change in pension (either increase or decrease).

Even if you have advised Centrelink, you still need to advise Department of Housing.

Household Size

Household size determines the size of house you are allocated and therefore, the market rent. If people move in or out of your house you must inform us within 28 days.

Department of Housing has a responsibility to ensure that public housing is allocated appropriately to tenant need and that housing stock is available for allocation to applicants on the wait list. If you are occupying a dwelling above your entitlement household size (i.e. one person in a three bedroom house) you may be asked to transfer to a property more suited to your household size. 


The amount of bond is dependent on whether you are eligible to receive a rental rebate and if you receive an aged-pension.

For tenants who receive a rental rebate, the bond is equivalent to two weeks of rebated rent and two weeks market rent applicable to the dwelling. Aged-pensioners' bond is equivalent to four weeks rebated rent.

If you are having difficulty paying bond you can enter an Agreement to Pay – allowing you to pay half of the bond up-front and the balance over a six month period.

Other Charges

All tenants are responsible for their own power bills and any other connections i.e. phone or internet.

While Department of Housing pays the basic amount for water charges, you will be charged if you use above the allocated amount of 500 kilolitres per annum (note – this only applies to tenants who reside in houses or dwellings with independent water meters). Excess water is billed on an annual basis, or pro-rata if you have only occupied the dwelling for part of the year.

If high water usage is due to a maintenance problem e.g. leaking pipes or taps, and you have met your obligation to inform Department of Housing of maintenance required in a timely manner, Department of Housing may agree to waive the charges in full or in part.

Find out more about making payments and debt management.