Public housing

The Department of Communities provides rental accommodation to eligible households across Western Australia. You may be placed on the public housing waiting list if you meet the eligibility criteria.
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Communities provides rental accommodation to eligible households across Western Australia. Rent is calculated at 25 per cent of gross assessable household income.

You may be placed on the public housing waiting list if you meet Communities' eligibility criteria. Contact your local Communities Housing office to complete a Housing Options Assessment

If you have an urgent need for housing and don’t have any other housing options, the Housing Options Assessment will provide you with further information regarding an application for priority assistance.

Communities reviews all of its clients annually. It is important to let Communities know if your circumstances change as this may affect your continued eligibility.

Communities requires permission to share information relating to their clients. If you are advocating on behalf of someone else, you will be required to complete the Advocate Consent Form.

The Housing Authority operates within the Department of Communities.

Applying for public housing

Before applying for public housing, you need to complete a Housing Options Assessment at any Communities Housing office.

To be eligible for public housing you must meet Communities' eligibility criteria at the time of making an application, while waiting for a house, and before an offer is made.

You will be asked to supply proof of identity and proof of income for all householders when lodging your application. Original identification documents should be provided in person, or a certified copy can be posted in the mail.

After you have completed a Housing Options Assessment, you will be provided with a pre-filled application form for public housing. If not already provided, proof of identify and income documents must be submitted with your public housing application form. You can lodge the application in person at your nearest Communities Housing office, or via post.

For more information, download the Applying for Rental Accommodation brochure.

Widening your housing choices

When you apply for Public Housing, you are also applying for Community Housing. This increases your chances of being housed sooner. Your relevant personal details will be shared with Community Housing providers.

Community Housing is like Public Housing but it is delivered by Community Housing providers. It is not shared or communal housing.

If you do not want to be considered for Community Housing, you may opt out,  when applying for assistance.

If you want to discuss your current application preferences,  contact your local Communities Housing Office for assistance.

Choosing your zone or town

You will be asked to select the area you wish to live in and the type of accommodation you require.

All public rental housing in the metropolitan area is divided into zones, representing groups of adjoining suburbs. We can advise you on which suburbs are in each zone. You will be asked to choose the zone you wish to live in. Unfortunately, it is not possible to apply for a specific suburb, nor is it possible to be listed for more than one zone.

Regional areas are divided into eight regions - East Kimberley, West Kimberley, Pilbara, Wheatbelt, Great Southern, Southwest, Goldfields, Midwest Gascoyne. If you would like specific information about which towns in a region have public rental accommodation, or about the type of accommodation and waiting times, it is best to directly contact your local Communities Housing office.

There are many different types of accommodation, and you will be asked to nominate your preferences on your rental application form. Not all areas have all types of accommodation, so check with us before completing your application. We can also advise you of the approximate waiting times for each accommodation type in each zone or region.

Download the Which Zone is For You brochure for a map of zones and list of suburbs in each zone.

Public housing rent calculation

Department of Communities is committed to providing rent setting that is fair and equitable for all public housing tenants.

Tenants who are eligible to pay rent by reference to income will pay no more than 25 per cent of the household assessable income as rent. 

Tenants who are not eligible to pay rent by reference to household income may pay market rent. This will be more than 25 per cent of the household income.

If 25 per cent of the household assessable income is more than the market rent, then tenants will pay the market rent.

Market rent will also be changed if tenants:

  • do not return required income information, 
  • are over the income eligibility limits, 
  • illegally sublet the property to another party, or 
  • abandon the property. 

Tenancies that commenced on or after 28 March 2016

Your household is already paying 25 per cent of the household income as rent or the market rent of the property.

Tenancies that commenced before 28 March 2016

If your household is not currently paying 25 per cent of assessable household income as rent, your rent may have additional increases. 

These can be up to $6 per week and will occur at the time of your annual rent review. 

They will continue until you reach 25 per cent of the household income or the market rent of the property.

Public housing property types

Communities will allocate accommodation to meet the needs of you and your family.

  • Family: parent(s) and children or sharing adults — you may be allocated a house, duplex or townhouse.
  • Single: person or couple (under 55 years) with no children living with you — you may be allocated an apartment or townhouse.
  • Seniors: single person or couple (55 years of age or older) with no children living with you — you may be allocated an apartment, townhouse or duplex.

The size of the property is determined by the number of bedrooms needed to accommodate the number of people on the application. When a property becomes available it is allocated to the next eligible applicant on the waiting list.

Communities has many different types of properties, which vary according to the type of building materials used and year of build. Communities ensures that all properties are of a good standard of housing regardless of the age of the property is or what building materials are used. 

For information on how many bedrooms a household is entitled to, view the Allocations Policy

Priority housing assistance

If you have a priority housing need, you may apply for priority housing assistance. 

Contact your local Communities Housing office to complete a Housing Options Assessment and speak to a customer services officer regarding your situation.

To consider your need for priority housing assistance you will need to provide supporting documentation. This may include medical or disability information, a support letter from a government or community agency, police reports or legal documents.

Reasons for requiring priority assistance may include:

  • family and domestic violence
  • to reunite a child with family
  • homelessness
  • a severe and ongoing medical condition caused or aggravated by your current housing situation.

The assessment for priority housing assistance will consider:

  • your current housing circumstances risks and barriers 
  • the appropriateness of alternative housing options, and whether these options have been explored.

Communities has a responsibility to maintain consistency, fairness, and balance between the competing needs of applicants on the standard waiting list and those on the priority list.
While every effort is made to allocate housing according to the applicant's preferred location and type of accommodation, this is not always possible. A property in other areas as close as possible to the preferred location may be offered.

Priority assistance is not emergency or crisis accommodation. Communities' customer services officers can assist applicants to locate agencies offering crisis accommodation by providing agency contact details. It is the responsibility of the applicant to seek support from these agencies. 

Offer of public housing accommodation

Applicants, partners and/or co-applicants must meet Communities' eligibility criteria at the time of application, while on the waiting list, and before an offer of housing is made.

Before Communities offers you housing, you will need to provide proof of your income and the income of your partner and/or co-applicants to ensure you still meet Communities' eligibility criteria. Other householders receiving an income will need to supply proof of income at the time of accepting a property to assess how much rent you will pay once you have been housed. 

Communities will contact you through the information that you have provided in your application or at your annual review. If your contact details or circumstances change, you need to contact your local Communities Housing office to update your information.

Viewing the property

Keys to view the property will be made available from the Communities Housing office that made the offer of accommodation. You will be required to sign a key receipt when collecting and returning keys. Keys must be returned no later than 4pm on the same day. 

You have three (3) working days to decide to accept or decline the offer.

Accepting an offer

If you accept the offer of accommodation, you will be required to fill out the acceptance documents. A Housing Services Officer will contact you to arrange an appointment where you will complete the tenancy agreement sign up process. 

You will be required to pay two (2) weeks rent in advance at the post office before you sign the Tenancy Agreement.

Refusing an offer of accommodation

If you decline the offer of accommodation, you should contact your local Communities Housing office to discuss your reasons for declining and to request a decline form.

You may be asked to provide supporting documentation dependent on your circumstances. Your reasons will be assessed and if they are unreasonable according to Communities policy, your application may be withdrawn from the waiting list. If your reasons are considered reasonable, you will remain on the waiting list.

Before you refuse a property, it is important to discuss your reasons with a Housing Services Officer so you can make an informed decision.

If you don't respond

Applicants that do not respond to an offer of accommodation may be withdrawn from the waiting list.

If you disagree with Communities' decision to withdraw your housing application, you can appeal the outcome through Communities' appeals mechanism form within 12 months of the original decision.

More information 

For more information, read the Offer of Rental Accommodation brochure.

Structural improvements and additions

Minor improvements are temporary improvements which are easily removable and do not affect the structure of the premises. These improvements/additions do not require approval from Communities.

Minor improvements may include:

  • curtains
  • blinds
  • picture hooks.

Non-structural improvements require approval from Communities by completing the Property Improvements and Additions Request Form. Non-structural improvements include:

  • security screens
  • air conditioning
  • additional fencing
  • Foxtel
  • satellite dishes
  • insulation
  • gun cabinets.

Structural improvements require approval from Communities by completing the Property Improvements and Additions Request Form with a copy of the quote of the improvement/addition attached and if approved, then completing an Application for Building Permit Form. This will then be submitted to the Permit Authority for further action.

Structural improvements may include, but are not limited to:

  • carport
  • garage
  • pergola/patios or shade structures
  • retaining walls
  • flagpoles
  • sheds.

To make any non-structural or structural changes or additions to your property, you need to complete the following before work commencing:

Communities will look at your request and advise in writing if your request has been approved or declined.

For structural improvements and additions that require a building permit:

  • An Application for Building Permit Form is to be submitted to the Communities Permit Authority once the Property Improvements and Additions Request Form has been approved.
  • All works must be carried out by a qualified trades person and licensed contractor.
  • A current Contents Insurance Policy (incorporating personal liability cover) must be held by the tenant for the duration of the installation of the structural improvement and for the remainder of the tenancy or until the structural improvement has been removed.
  • A Certificate of Electrical Safety must be provided by a certified electrician for any electrical works following installation.
  • A Notice of Completion after installation must be provided by a certified plumber for any gas related works. 

If you are installing a gun cabinet you must possess a valid firearms license, the firearms stored must be licensed and the gun cabinet must meet all specifications in accordance with the Firearms Regulation 1974.

Be mindful that you may be required to remove your addition/improvement at your own expense before you vacate the property.

Note: Communities does not permit the installation of swimming pools or spa pools which can hold water greater than 300mm in depth.

Moving in and out of public housing

Moving in to public housing

When you move into a property managed by Communities, your customer services officer will provide you a Property Condition Report. This describes the condition of each room in the house as well as the exterior and gardens.

If you find any fault with the property, it is important that you record the issues identified and return the copy of the Property Condition Report to your local Communities Housing office within seven days.

This prevents you from being charged for repairs to anything that was damaged before you moved in. If you don't return the Property Condition Report with the listed issues, we will assume you are happy with the property.

Moving out of Public Housing

You need to give 21 days' notice in writing to advise when you intend to vacate your public housing property. You can complete a Tenant Vacating Form.

The property must be left clean and tidy. If repairs, gardening or rubbish removal are required, you will be charged for them. This can be very expensive.

Market rent update

Annual updates to market rent values used for public housing

Communities updates market rent values each year to better align with market rents used within the private market and ensure tenants pay a fair level of rent.​

Approximately 95 per cent of public housing tenancies pay 25 per cent of their weekly assessable household income as rent and are not affected by annual market rent updates.

The remaining five per cent of tenancies pay the assessed market rent value of the property.

When is market rent paid?

Market rent is paid when:

  • it is less than 25 per cent of the weekly assessable household income
  • tenants and householders do not provide the income information required to calculate their assessable household income
  • tenants are found to be ineligible for public housing due to exceeding the income or asset limits
  • a tenant has illegally subleted the property to another party.

Market rent values are determined by Landgate, the Western Australian Land Information Authority.

Tenants affected by the changes will be notified of their new rent charges and the date from which the new rent will apply. Rent increases will be capped to $40 per week or 15 per cent of the current rent charge, whichever is reached first.


​Your Housing Services Officer will inspect the property at least once a year. This is called the Annual Property Inspection.

Their visits are to ensure the property is maintained, kept clean and tidy and to identify if anything needs repair or maintenance.

You will be given plenty of notice and you must be home during the inspection. Inspections usually take about 30 minutes.

You can prepare for the inspection by:

  • sweeping away dirt and dust
  • wiping away grime and cobwebs
  • wiping down benches, walls, cupboards, sinks, bathrooms, toilet, and appliances
  • cleaning windows
  • mowing the lawn
  • sweeping paths and patios
  • removing rubbish.

You may want to ask a family member or friends to help you. If not, services from local councils or community groups may be able to help. Ask your Housing Services Officer how to find some of these services.

Your Housing Services Officer can also visit throughout the year to see how you are going or to discuss your tenancy. These visits are part of your tenancy agreement.

Change of circumstance

If your circumstances change you need to tell Communities. This includes changes to income or assets or a change in the number of householders.

Changes to your income or assets

Public housing rent is calculated at 25 per cent of a household’s assessable income.
If your income increases by $10 or more a week, your rent may increase. Please notify us immediately of any household income changes by completing and returning the Rent Assessment Form

If you don't tell us about household income increases, you may face paying back rent when your next rent review falls due. Please also advise us if your household income is reduced, as you may be eligible for a rent decrease.

Other options

If your income increases and you no longer meet the income and assets criteria, a Housing Service Officer will contact you for an interview to discuss your housing situation and affordable housing options available to you. This may include community housing, renting privately or home ownership options.

Changes to your household

It is important that you let Communities know if there are changes to your household as this may change your household’s assessable income and the rent you pay.

If you are no longer eligible for the size of the property you are living in, Communities can explore options for you, and may transfer you to a more suitable property, provided you are still eligible for public housing.

If someone is staying with you as a visitor your rent will not change so long as your visitor:

  • has a permanent alternative address (Communities may request evidence)
  • remains at your property for no longer than eight consecutive weeks.

Complete the Rent Assessment Form to notify us of any household changes.