What is rent assistance and who is eligible for it?

author-avatar By on November 05, 2020
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What is rent assistance and who is eligible for it?

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If you’re having trouble affording to pay your rent, you might be eligible to receive rent assistance from the government.

If you don’t own a home, rent is one of those things in life we just have to pay - like taxes.

But if you’re struggling to afford your rent and you currently receive another form of payment from the government, you could be eligible for some help with your rent payments.

Need somewhere to store cash and earn interest? The table below features savings accounts with some of the highest non-introductory and introductory interest rates on the market.

What is rent assistance?

Rent assistance is a Centrelink payment that certain people who have to pay rent and currently receive some form of payment from the government (like the age pension) can receive.

Who is eligible for rent assistance and how much can you get?

You can receive rent assistance from the government if you currently receive any of the following:

  • The Age Pension, Carer Payment, or the Disability Support Pension

  • ABSTUDY Living Allowance, Austudy, or Youth Allowance

  • Widow Allowance

  • Partner Allowance or Special Benefit

  • Family Tax Benefit - Part A at more than the base rate

  • Parenting Payment partnered and single

  • JobSeeker or Farm Household Allowance

You must also pay one of the following to be eligible for rent assistance:

  • Rent

  • Fees in a retirement village

  • Lodging

  • Board and lodging

  • Site or mooring fees if your main place of residence is a boat, caravan, or relocatable home

Special rules apply for people living in a retirement village and for young people, so it’s best to check the government website.

How much rent assistance you can receive depends on how much rent you pay per fortnight. For every $1 of rent you pay over the below amounts, you’ll receive 75c and you cannot receive more than the maximum amount of rent assistance.

The below amounts of rent assistance get updated every year in line with the Consumer Price Index (CPI).

People without dependent children:

If you're

Your fortnightly rent is at least

To get the maximum payment your fortnightly rent is at least

The maximum fortnightly payment is

Single

$124.60

$310.73

$139.60

Single, sharer

$124.60

$248.69

$93.07

Couple, combined

$201.80

$377.27

$131.60

1 of a couple separated due to illness

$124.60

$310.73

$139.60

1 of a couple temporarily separated

$124.60

$300.07

$131.60

Source: Australian Government Services Australia

People with dependent children:

If you have dependent children, you’ll often receive rent assistance with Family Tax Benefit Part A.

If you're

Your fortnightly rent is at least

To get the maximum payment your fortnightly rent is at least

The maximum fortnightly payment is

Single, with 1 or 2 children

$163.52

$382.29

$164.08

Single, with 3 or more children

$163.52

$410.67

$185.36

A couple, with 1 or 2 children

$241.92

$460.69

$164.08

A couple, with 3 or more children

$241.92

$489.07

$185.36

1 of a couple separated due to illness or temporarily separated, with 1 or 2 children

$163.52

$382.29

$164.08

1 of a couple separated due to illness or temporarily separated, with 3 or more children

$163.52

$410.67

$185.36

Source: Australian Government Services Australia

From time to time, you may be asked to review and confirm your rent details to make sure you’re getting the right amount of rent assistance, and that your eligibility hasn’t changed.

Your rent assistance may be adjusted if the amount of rent you pay increases or decreases, if you move house, if your income changes, or if your family situation changes (such as getting divorced). The amount of rent assistance you receive could also change depending on changes to the payment rates made every year in line with CPI.

Who isn’t eligible for rent assistance?

You can’t receive rent assistance if:

  • You are leasing from a state or territory housing authority

  • You own or are buying the home you live in, except relocatable homes

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

  • The Australian Government pays a subsidy to the approved residential aged care facility where you live

  • Your partner receives rent assistance with Family Tax Benefit

  • You receive an allowance and your partner receives rent assistance with their pension

How to apply for rent assistance

You don’t need to submit an application for rent assistance because the government will automatically check to see if you’re eligible when you claim a payment, like the pension, from them. You will likely be asked to provide proof that you pay rent and will need to provide a rent certificate, which will be sent to you to fill out.

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 into your myGov account and updating your information.

Rent assistance coronavirus

The federal government has rolled out various stimulus measures for renters struggling because of the COVID-19 pandemic. To find out what assistance is available in your state, check out our article on which states are offering rent assistance.

Savings.com.au’s two cents

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


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author-avatar
Emma Duffy joined Savings.com.au as a Finance Journalist in 2019 after spending a year as the editor of The Real Estate Conversation. She's passionate about empowering people to make smart financial decisions and improve the financial literacy of Australians by translating complex finance topics into understandable, relatable content.

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