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. 

1

Moving homes

If you're planning on moving homes during the coronavirus pandemic, it's important to check the current NSW Government rules.

The rules may be different in other parts of NSW, depending on where you currently live and where you are moving to.

Everyone involved in the move will need to practise appropriate physical distancing to reduce the risk of getting or spreading coronavirus.

This includes anyone who is helping move your belongings, such as:

  • removalists 
  • family and friends

Home inspections

Onsite home inspections can take place under the NSW Government rules. This means you can inspect:

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

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 before you 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 actively manage the number of people in attendance to maintain physical distancing.

Moving interstate

If you're looking to move interstate, it’s important you check the rules of that state or territory before you travel, including if:

  • borders are open or closed
  • you need a border entry permit before crossing the border
  • there’s a mandatory quarantine period

The rules around border crossings and quarantine can change quickly, depending on coronavirus case numbers.

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 
    2

    Buying a home

    Onsite open home inspections and auctions can take place under the NSW Government rules.

    This means you can:

    • inspect homes for sale or auction
    • inspect investment properties
    • inspect display homes
    • attend auctions in person
    • negotiate with agents in person

    If you attend an onsite inspection or auction, it’s important you take care of yourself and others by:

    Real estate agents and property owners must actively manage the number of people in attendance to maintain physical distancing.

    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 before you inspect it in person.

    3

    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. 

    1

    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.

    2

    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
    4

    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.

    5

    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 
    Top of page