Defence Housing Australia

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Our Head-Housing-Honcho – aka Defence Housing Australia – are responsible for providing homes for most serving members and their families.

They are akin to property managers looking after the investor and DHA-owned properties defence families live in.

When your Defence Family is posted to a new location, when you become recognised as a couple or family or when you’re approved to live apart from your defence person (MWD-U) you will likely move into a DHA property.

Simple, right? Hmmmm not always…..

Here are the need-to-know deets.



To be able to live in a DHA property with a serving member you need to be an officially recognised dependent, so a partner or child.

Also, you or your partner can not own a suitable property within a certain radius of the defence base or where ever your defence person is officially posted to. There are a whole set of rules when it comes to that so it is always best to read up on the official rules in PACMAN (Pay and Conditions Manual) HERE



How flash your DHA property is, how many bedrooms you get and how much you pay all comes down to rank and the number of people in your family.

Housing is divided into rent bands and these are determined by the rank the military person holds. In theory, a commanding officer’s house is going to be pretty alright while an able seaman’s pad is probably going to be a little more humble.

More info about rent bands can be found HERE

Bedroom entitlements are based on the number and gender of the serving member’s recognised dependents. Up to two children under six, of the same gender and with less than a four-year age gap are only entitled to a shared room.

Also, if a serving member or their partner has shared custody of a child, the number of days they have their child will impact entitlements.

It is in your best interest to know what your entitlements are, so you don’t ‘accidentally’ access over your entitlements and risk being caught out for fraud and knock-on consequences. When you have a spare few hours *cough….or days* pop over and have a look over PACMAN and the sections that are of particular interest to you and your family.  Check out PACMAN here.


How much will rent be?

Because this is the ADF, things are done a little differently. What you pay is based on your rent band, not the house you pick.

That means you could be in a three-bedroom house in Ipswich that is older than a new recruit and your mate could be in a brand new five-bedroom home in Sydney but if the properties are in the same rent band, you will both be paying the same amount.

It’s kind of weird, isn’t it? But after a while you shrug and think, that’s defence life for you.

Check out the Contributions for Service Residence table here to figure out which rent band your Defence Member *and you* will fit into dependent on your relationship status.


Finding a House

Once you have a posting order in your hot little hands – theoretically, because they’re digital now – or you have been given the green light to move into a DHA property, you can activate self-service preview access on the DHA website.

What a joy this will be for you…..

The website will list properties that match your entitlement and the date you need a property. Through the website you can view what is available, you can ‘lock’ a property for 30 minutes so you can have a proper look, and you can also ‘reserve’ a house you like.

But be warned, there is no rhyme or reason to ADF home searching. Houses can pop up at any time of the day or night and disappear just as quickly if someone has quicker fingers – or internet – than you.

If you are searching leading up to a peak posting time – such as months either side of December and January – demand is high and supply can be low in some locations. There will always be the choice suburbs people want to get into and properties will be snapped up straight away. Once you reserve a house, you can no longer see what else is available but if you don’t reserve it someone else can go ahead and do so.

And therein lies the great conundrum. Do you lock in the first one you see that is decent? Or do you wait, hoping a unicorn house with butler’s pantry, extra-wide fridge space and pool pops up?

That, my friend is a decision only you can make. But be warned, unlocking a house at 3am to take a peek at what else is available is a risky move. You don’t know how many other people are awake due to housing FOMO and are just waiting to pounce! If you’re up at 3am it is likely others have the same idea. Makes me tired just thinking about it really and you haven’t got to the actual moving part yet.

All I can say is may the housing gods smile down upon you.


Rent Allowance

What happens if there are no houses? Surely that wouldn’t happen. Right?

Unfortunately, it does but if you need to enter the civilian rental market you can qualify to access rent allowance up to a certain amount.

You will need to be approved to access rent assistance and you generally can only do so if there is no suitable housing for you and your family. For example, if the only property coming up is a two-bedroom unit and you have three kids and a border collie obviously that isn’t going to work and is below your entitlement.

How much rent allowance you get is based on rent band, number of dependents and location – houses in inner-city Sydney tend to be a tad more pricey than those in Adelaide.

Defence sets a rent ceiling, which is the maximum they will pay towards your rent. To work out how much you will be paid, defence takes away your contribution (what you would normally be paying for a DHA property) from your rent and will pay the difference UP TO the rent ceiling. If you go above the rent ceiling then you pay your contribution and whatever the amount is over the rent ceiling. There may be a case to have your rent ceiling increased and that is something you can look into if and when the time comes.

For more info on rent allowance check out this page

Rent allowance is paid directly to the serving member, who is then responsible for paying rent to their landlord or real estate. As this is an allowance, it can impact Centrelink payments.

Once again, check out PACMAN and know your entitlements. How rent allowance is worked out and any associated info is in PACMAN.


Knowing your rights

At the end of the day DHA should be working with, not against, defence families to ensure they are getting their correct entitlements, that properties are adequality maintained and that maintenance is done in a timely manner.

If this isn’t the case, the serving member can get in touch with their unit housing officer, you can contact your local DRHM (Defence Relocations and Housing Manager) or reach out to organisations such as DMFS (Defence Member and Family Support) or DFA (Defence Families Australia) to help you resolve any issues you may be having.

There is now one central contact for the DRHM’s (Defence Relocations and Housing Manager) to get in contact use the following email address and your query will be passed on to your local DRHM

DMFS Info and Contacts are HERE

DFA Info and Contacts are HERE