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Department of Human Services

South Australian Housing Trust

Temporary absences policy

This policy sets out:

  • what a tenant’s responsible for while they’re absent from the property
  • how Housing SA approves applications for a caretaker to live at the property during the tenant’s absence.

This policy doesn’t apply to short term and specific purpose housing programs.

Telling Housing SA about a temporary absence

Tenants must live in their property as a condition of their lease agreement, also known as the Conditions of Tenancy.

If a tenant’s planning to be temporarily absent from the property, they must tell Housing SA:

  • why they will be away
  • how long for
  • their contact details while they’re away.

Length of the temporary absence

Tenants may be absent from their property for up to three months with Housing SA’s approval. Housing SA may approve up to another three months if the tenant has a genuine need to be absent longer.

Tenants can be absent for up to six months in a three year period, starting with the first absence.

If a tenant’s away longer than this, Housing SA may determine the tenant isn’t living in the property

The circumstances behind each absence are assessed to determine what action, if any, should be taken.

Temporary absences can’t be extended past the end date on the tenant’s lease agreement.

These timeframes also apply if a caretaker’s living in the property.

Tenant’s responsibilities while absent

While they’re away, tenants are still responsible for meeting all the conditions of their lease agreement, including:

  • paying rent in full and on time
  • taking care of and maintaining the property
  • telling Housing SA about any changes in their circumstances - eg they’ll be away longer than expected.


A caretaker is someone nominated by the tenant - eg a family member or friend, to live in the property while the tenant’s absent.

If the tenant’s living in Aboriginal housing, the caretaker should preferably be of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander descent.

A caretaker has no right to take over the tenancy.

Applying for a caretaker

A tenant can apply for a caretaker to live at the property for up to three months. Housing SA may approve up to a further three months if the tenant has a genuine need to be absent longer.

Housing SA must approve a caretaker before they can move in. Both the tenant and the caretaker must complete a Caretaker application form.


Tenants are eligible to apply for a caretaker if the tenant meets all of the below conditions:

  • action isn’t being taken to end their tenancy
  • they’ve made an arrangement to repay any debt they owe to Housing SA
  • the length of their absence won’t go past the end date on their lease agreement.

A person’s eligible to be a caretaker if they meet all of the below conditions:

  • they’ve made an arrangement to repay any debt they owe to Housing SA
  • they aren’t excluded from Housing SA’s services because of antisocial behaviour
  • letting them move into the property won’t contravene an intervention order
  • they provide proof of their identity to Housing SA.


Rent’s reviewed at the time a caretaker application’s approved. Rent’s calculated based on the tenant’s household income.

Housing SA may calculate the rent based on a caretaker’s income if the tenant has no or limited income - eg due to imprisonment.

Related information

Controlling documents

Supporting guidelines

  • Temporary absences guidelines v2

Related policies and other documents

Date this policy applies from

4 September 2017

Version number


The online version of the policy is the approved and current version. There is no guarantee that any printed copies are current.

State Government of South Australia © Copyright DHS [sm v5.4.7.1] .

Provided by:
SA Department for Human Services
Last Updated:
05 Jul 2018
Printed on:
19 Jun 2019
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