For those of us who don’t own our home, rent is one of those things we just have to pay – like taxes. But if you’re struggling to afford your rent and already receive another form of payment from the government, you could be eligible for specific help with your rental payments.

What is rent assistance?

Rent assistance is a Centrelink payment available to some people who pay rent while receiving another form of government support. The amount a person might receive depends on how much rent they pay.

A single person who forks out at least $146 for two weeks' rent might be eligible for up to $188.20 of rent assistance each fortnight.

The payment can help ease the strain of paying rent to live in a house or unit, community or retirement housing, or in a boat, caravan, or relocatable home that incurs site or mooring fees.

Some renters feel this still isn’t enough given tough rental conditions in 2024. The InfoChoice Rental Crisis Survey found 41.2% of tenants saw rents go up by more than 10% over 2023, with the vast majority of respondents (96.2%) saying the Government should be doing more to help renters.

Who is eligible for rent assistance?

You might be able to receive rent assistance from the government if you currently receive any of the following support payments:

  • Age Pension

  • Carer Payment or Disability Support Pension

  • ABSTUDY Living Allowance

  • Austudy or Youth Allowance

  • Family Tax Benefit

  • Parenting Payment

  • JobSeeker Payment

  • Farm Household Allowance

  • Special Benefit

Perhaps unsurprisingly, you must also pay rent, fees to a retirement village, lodging or board (or both), or site or mooring fees to be eligible for rent assistance.

It can also be offered to people living in community or defence housing under certain circumstances.

Special rules and conditions might also apply for young people or those who reside in a retirement village, so it’s best to check with Services Australia to see if you’re eligible.

How much can you receive through rent assistance?

How much rent assistance you can might receive depends on how much rent you pay each fortnight. For every dollar of rent you pay over a certain amount you’ll receive 75 cents of rent assistance, up to a set maximum payment. The amount of rent you must pay to be eligible and your maximum payment is dependent on your personal situation.

The latest Federal Budget included a 10% increase to the maximum rate of rent assistance, which will likely kick in in September '24. It followed a 15% increase to rent assistance included in the 2023-24 Federal Budget.

More generally, rent assistance gets updated twice a year (in March and September) in line with the Consumer Price Index (CPI).

The Federal Government boasts that, all in all, the maximum rate of rent assistance has risen 40% since May 2022 thanks to the two increases listed above and general indexation.

Rent assistance for those without dependent children

If you're

And your fortnightly rent is at least

Your maximum fortnightly payment could be

To get the maximum payment, your fortnightly rent must be at least

Single

$146

$188.20

$396.94

Single and living in shared housing

$146

$125.47

$313.29

A couple (combined)

$236.60

$177.20

$472.87

One of a couple separated due to illness

$146

$188.20

$396.94

One of a couple temporarily separated

$146

$177.20

$382.27

Source: Australian Government Services Australia

Rent assistance for those with dependent children

If you have dependent children and receive Family Tax Benefit Part A, you'll likely also receive rent assistance.

If you're

Your fortnightly rent is at least

Your maximum fortnightly payment could be

To get the maximum payment, your fortnightly rent must be at least

Single with one or two children

$191.80

$221.20

$486.74

Single with three or more children

$191.80

$249.90

$525

A couple with one or two children

$283.50

$221.20

578.44

A couple with three or more children

$283.50

$249.90

$616.70

One of a couple separated due to illness or temporarily separated with one or two children

$191.80

$221.20

$486.74

One of a couple separated due to illness or temporarily separated with three or more children

$191.80

$249.90

$525

Source: Australian Government Services Australia

If you receive rent assistance, Centrelink might occasionally ask you to to review and confirm your details to make sure you’re getting the right amount of support and that your eligibility hasn’t changed.

Your rent assistance could also be adjusted if your rent is raised or lowered, you move house, your income changes, or your family situation changes (such as in the case of divorce). The amount of rent assistance you receive can also change if payment rates shift in line with CPI.

Who isn’t eligible for rent assistance

Not every renter can pocket rent assistance. You might find yourself ineligible for the payment if:

  • You own or are buying the home you live in

  • You are travelling away from the home you own for less than 12 months

  • You live in an approved residential aged care facility that receives a government subsidy

  • You have a partner that receives rent assistance alongside Family Tax Benefit

  • You get an allowance and your partner receives rent assistance alongside their pension

  • You're leasing from a state or territory housing authority

How to apply for rent assistance

Good news for those among us that can’t stand paperwork: You don’t need to apply to receive rent assistance. The government will automatically check to see if you’re eligible if and when you claim another payment from them.

Those who might be eligible will likely be asked to prove that they pay rent. If they don’t have a formal tenancy agreement to do so, Centrelink could send them a rent certificate to fill out and return.

If you already receive rent assistance but you’ve moved house, you’ll need to confirm that you’re still eligible to receive it by signing in to your myGov account and updating your information.

Buying a home or looking to refinance? The table below features home loans with some of the lowest interest rates on the market for owner occupiers.

Update resultsUpdate
LenderHome LoanInterest Rate Comparison Rate* Monthly Repayment Repayment type Rate Type Offset Redraw Ongoing Fees Upfront Fees LVR Lump Sum Repayment Additional Repayments Split Loan Option TagsFeaturesLinkCompare
6.04% p.a.
6.06% p.a.
$2,408
Principal & Interest
Variable
$0
$530
90%
Featured 4.6 Star Customer Ratings
  • No monthly or ongoing fees
  • Unlimited free redraw
  • No application fee
5.99% p.a.
5.90% p.a.
$2,396
Principal & Interest
Variable
$0
$0
80%
Featured Apply In Minutes
  • No application or ongoing fees. Annual rate discount
  • Unlimited redraws & additional repayments. LVR <80%
  • A low-rate variable home loan from a 100% online lender. Backed by the Commonwealth Bank.
6.14% p.a.
6.16% p.a.
$2,434
Principal & Interest
Variable
$0
$250
60%
Featured Unlimited Redraws
  • No annual fees - None!
  • Get fast pre-approval
  • Unlimited additional repayments free of charge
  • Redraw freely - Access your additional payments when you need them
  • Home loan specialists available today
Important Information and Comparison Rate Warning

Base criteria of: a $400,000 loan amount, variable, fixed, principal and interest (P&I) home loans with an LVR (loan-to-value) ratio of at least 80%. However, the ‘Compare Home Loans’ table allows for calculations to be made on variables as selected and input by the user. Some products will be marked as promoted, featured or sponsored and may appear prominently in the tables regardless of their attributes. All products will list the LVR with the product and rate which are clearly published on the product provider’s website. Monthly repayments, once the base criteria are altered by the user, will be based on the selected products’ advertised rates and determined by the loan amount, repayment type, loan term and LVR as input by the user/you. *The Comparison rate is based on a $150,000 loan over 25 years. Warning: this comparison rate is true only for this example and may not include all fees and charges. Different terms, fees or other loan amounts might result in a different comparison rate. Rates correct as of . View disclaimer.

Savings.com.au’s two cents

If you’re already experiencing financial stress, receiving rental assistance might help to lessen some of that pressure. For more tips on managing money and saving, check out our money saving tips.

Article originally published by Emma Duffy on 26 February 2021, last updated by Brooke Cooper on 24 May 2024.

Photo by Fabian Blank on Unsplash





Ready, Set, Buy!


Learn everything you need to know about buying property – from choosing the right property and home loan, to the purchasing process, tips to save money and more!

With bonus Q&A sheet and Crossword!

By subscribing you agree to our privacy policy