First home owner grant

The ACT Government introduced the First Home Owner Grant (FHOG) on 1 July 2000. The grant aims to encourage home ownership by providing financial assistance to eligible people buying their first home. The ACT Revenue Office oversees the FHOG.

The FHOG has undergone a number of recent changes. The FHOG now suits home buyers looking to buy new and substantially renovated properties only; it’s no longer available for purchasing established properties.

As of 1 January 2017, the FHOG is $7,000. For FHOG eligible transactions that commenced on or after 1 January 2011, there’s a cap on the total value of the property (home plus land) of $750,000.

Eligibility

To be eligible to apply for the FHOG, you must:

  • lodge an application within one year of completing an eligible transaction;
  • complete and sign the application form and lodge it along with all necessary supporting documents;
  • be at least 18 years old (you cannot apply as a company or trust unless you’re a trustee for a person with a legal disability); however, if the Commissioner for ACT Revenue believes there are good reasons to do so, the Commissioner may exempt an applicant from the requirement to be at least 18;
  • ensure that at least one applicant is an Australian citizen or permanent resident;
  • be buying or building a new, substantially renovated or off-the-plan home for which you signed a contract on or after 1 January 2017 or be building a home as an owner-builder for which building started on or after 1 January 2017;
  • make sure that each person with a relevant interest in the property is an applicant;
  • ensure that at least one applicant lives in the home as his or her principal residence for a continuous period of at least one year, with the residency starting within a year of completing the eligible transaction;
  • be buying or building a new home for which the total value of the property is not more than $750,000.

Applicants and their partners also must:

  • not have received the FHOG anywhere in Australia. However, an applicant who received a grant after 1 January 2011 and paid it back may be entitled to apply for an additional grant, depending on the circumstances;
  • not have previously owned or held a relevant interest in a residential property anywhere in Australia before 1 July 2000;
  • not have occupied a residential property in which they acquired a relevant interest anywhere in Australia on or after 1 July 2000 but before 1 January 2004;
  • not have occupied, for a continuous period of at least six months, a residential property in which they acquired a relevant interest anywhere in Australia on or after 1 January 2004.

Transaction dates

The FHOG has changed over the years having different grant amounts, residency requirements and application forms depending on the date of your eligible transaction (see Table 1 below).

Table 1 – FHOG information by transaction date range

Transaction dates

Grant amount

Residency requirements

Application form

1 January 2017 to current

$7,000

One year, with the period of occupation commencing within one year after completion of the eligible transaction

1 January 2017 First Home Owner Grant application form

1 January 2016 to 31 December 2016

$10,000

One year, with the period of occupation commencing within one year after completion of the eligible transaction

1 January 2016 First Home Owner Grant application form

1 September 2013 to 31 December 2015

$12,500

One year, with the period of occupation commencing within one year after completion of the eligible transaction

1 September 2013 First Home Owner Grant application form

New or substantially renovated properties

The FHOG applies to new or substantially renovated properties only for eligible transactions that took place on or after 1 September 2013.

A new or substantially renovated property means:

  • a home that hasn’t been previously occupied or sold as a place of residence; or
  • a substantially renovated home that, with renovations complete, hasn’t been previously occupied or sold as a place of residence; or
  • a property that’s subject to an off-the-plan purchase agreement.

For substantially renovated properties, the renovations must have impacted the building as a whole, meaning that all, or substantially all, of the previous building has been either removed or replaced.

Renovating only one part of a building, without any work on the remaining parts of the building, does not constitute substantial renovations. Similarly, removing or replacing a kitchen or bathroom, with only minor repair work on the rest of the home, doesn’t count as substantial renovations. If the improvements have been cosmetic only, this also doesn’t amount to substantial renovations.

How to apply

You can lodge your FHOG application in two ways:

  • through an approved agent, a financial organisation approved by the ACT Revenue Office to accept and process applications for the grant; or
  • with the ACT Revenue Office, only after the completion of the eligible transaction.

You must lodge your application within one year from the completion of the eligible transaction – for example, the settlement date or the date of issue of the Certificate of Occupancy and Use.

Owner-builders can lodge their application within the one-year period only after the home has been completed.

If you lodge your application through an approved agent, he or she can lodge it within the period beginning on the eligible transaction’s commencement date (the date of the exchange of the contract) and ending one year after the eligible transaction’s completion (the settlement date or the date of issue of the Certificate of Occupancy and Use).

For payment to be available at settlement or first draw down/progress payment, you must lodge your application with an approved agent. Please contact the agent for a status update on your application.

When you apply for the FHOG, you need to make sure the information on your application is true and correct. It’s an offence for you to make a false or misleading statement when applying for the grant. If you’re unsure about any of your obligations or the information required in the application, contact the ACT Revenue Office so we can help.

Our office reviews applications and conducts ongoing investigations to ensure that applicants comply with all conditions; we generally undertake these investigations after we’ve paid the grant.

Please submit complete applications with all the necessary supporting documents; incomplete applications delay processing time.

What happens next?

If you lodged your FHOG application for a new, substantially renovated or off-the-plan home and our office approves it:

  • and you applied through an approved agent, you’ll receive your grant at the settlement date set by the approved agent;
  • and you applied through our office, you’ll receive your grant within 10 working days of lodging a complete application after the completion of an eligible transaction.

If, at any time, you do not meet the FHOG eligibility criteria, you must, by law, notify the Commissioner for ACT Revenue in writing and repay the grant within 14 days of becoming aware of your ineligibility.