Finding somewhere new to live

This is a guide for people who need to find somewhere new to live during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. 

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Moving homes

It is still possible to move homes in NSW. 

Under the NSW Government rules, moving to a new place of residence is an acceptable reason to leave your home.

Using a removalist to move

If you're moving, you can use a removalist because they're classified as an essential service.

Removalists can carry out their usual business tasks such as entering your home to help you pack up and move. But, you and the removalist will need to practise appropriate physical distancing to reduce the risk of getting or spreading coronavirus (COVID-19).

Getting friends or family to help you move

Under the NSW Government rules, anyone coming to your home to help you move, is exempt from current visitation rules.

This means, friends or family can come to your home if they are assisting you to move. It's still important to keep practising appropriate physical distancing when you have visitors enter your home. 

If you don't use a removalist, renting a car or truck can be helpful to move large household items. 

Most vehicle rental companies in NSW remain open. Contact the rental company directly to check their opening hours and vehicle availability.

Home inspections

Onsite home inspections can take place under the NSW Government rules. This means, it's reasonable to leave your home to inspect:

  • homes for rent
  • homes for sale or auction
  • investment properties
  • display homes

At this time, many real estate companies are also offering online, virtual tours of their properties. Consider taking a virtual tour to see if a home is right for you and if you need to inspect it in person. 

If you attend an onsite home inspection, it's important to take care of yourself and others by:

Real estate agents and property owners must make sure there is at least 4 square metres of space for every person inspecting a property. 

Moving interstate

Most states and territories in Australia have restrictions in place to limit people travelling to help slow the spread of coronavirus. 

If you're looking to move interstate, it is important you check the rules of each state or territory before you start planning to move out of NSW. Some states have closed their borders and introduced self-isolation periods on arrival. 

Once you leave NSW, you'll have to abide by the rules of the state or territory you're entering. 

Get financial support to move to a new home

The Department of Communities and Justice has a range of financial support to help you with the costs of moving homes including: 

  • interest free bond loans for some or all of your rental bond 
  • assistance to help pay your rent and utilities such as water  
  • money to help you move 
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Buying a home

The way you look for and buy a home in NSW has been impacted by coronavirus. 

Restrictions were put in place by the NSW Government in March 2020 to temporarily stop onsite inspections and auctions. 

These restrictions have now been eased which means:

  • it's reasonable for you to leave your home to inspect a home for sale
  • onsite auctions can take place
  • you can attend onsite property auctions in person

If you are looking to buy a home, and attend an onsite inspection, it’s important you take care of yourself and others by: 

Many real estate companies are also offering online, virtual tours of their properties. Consider taking a virtual tour to see if a home is right for you and if you need to inspect it in person.

Going to an auction

Currently, onsite home auctions can take place in NSW. This means you can attend the property being sold for auction, in person. 

There are health guidelines a real estate agent or property owner can follow for an auction to go ahead, including: 

  • giving at least 4 square metres of space for each person at a home
  • limiting the number people attending an auction
  • providing hand sanitiser for people to use when they arrive and leave a home
  • using digital or online options where possible to avoid physical contact
  • recording contact details of all people attending inspections and auctions for traceability 
  • ensuring people with symptoms of illness don’t enter a property
  • use outdoor spaces for auctions wherever possible to maximise physical distance between attendees

You can attend an auction as an observer only, if you maintain a physical distance of more than 1.5m with other people and the health guidelines are followed.

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Housing for low income earners

There are several options for those on a low to moderate incomes who are looking to rent. This includes social housing and affordable housing.

Wait lists to live in this type of housing can be long so it's important you apply as soon as you can. 

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Social housing

Social housing is secure and affordable rental housing for people on low incomes with housing needs. It includes:

  • public housing
  • community housing
  • Aboriginal housing

The difference between public and community housing

Public housing is managed by the Department of Communities and Justice (DCJ), while community housing is managed by non-government organisations. They are known as social housing providers.

Eligibility for social housing

To ensure it helps those most in need, eligibility for social housing focuses on people on a low income that:

  • need support to help them live independently, and
  • can't find suitable or affordable private rental housing

Applying for social housing

A participating social housing provider does an assessment to work out the eligibility and priority of applications. 

This assessment only needs to be done once, and will be accepted by all participating social housing providers. 

When the assessment is complete, you’ll be notified in writing of the outcome.

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Affordable housing

Affordable housing is for people on very low to moderate incomes. Unlike community housing this type of accommodation is not social housing. 

You might need to live in affordable housing because of a change in your life such as losing a job or if your income isn't high enough to pay rent in the area where your live or work.

Staying in affordable housing can be a stable, short to medium term housing option while you build up your finances or find work. 

Generally charities, not-for-profit or community organisations manage affordable housing. The affordable housing managers are responsible for:

  • setting the price of rent
  • reviewing rental applications
  • renting out affordable homes
  • collecting rent
  • maintaining homes

The rent for affordable housing is priced so you can meet your other living costs such as food, clothing, transport, medical costs and education.

What you pay in rent can vary, but as a guide, it's generally worked out a few ways including:

  • up to 25% below the price of similar homes in the area you're looking to rent
  • set at no more than 30% of your income before tax
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Housing for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people

The Aboriginal Housing Office (AHO) ensures Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have access to affordable, quality housing. 

The AHO is based in NSW, and provides a wide range of services including: 

  • support for housing and crisis accommodation 
  • ensuring that housing is appropriate to the social and cultural requirements, living patterns and preferences of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people

The Department of Communities and Justice also provides low cost and culturally appropriate housing for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in NSW.

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Housing if you’re experiencing family or domestic violence

The Department of Communities and Justice has a rental assistance program called Start Safely.   

It is for people who do not have a stable and secure place to live due to domestic or family violence.  

Start Safely can be used to:  

  • find a safe and affordable place to rent  
  • pay some of your rent for up to 3 years  
  • assist with education and employment options with the aim of gaining financial independence 
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