Centrelink Q&A: Shared housing

Robyn is looking to move closer to the city and is considering buying a house with a friend, who also wants to be close to Melbourne. But Robyn is worried it will hurt her Age Pension eligibility.

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Robyn:
I am on a full Age Pension, as is a friend of mine. We are both in our 70s, and while we are the best of friends, we are not in a relationship.

We both own and live in our houses in country Victoria but I want to be closer to Melbourne where my grandkids and sisters are, while my friend wants to be closer to her grandkids and family. Neither one of us can afford to buy a house on our own in Melbourne.

It was suggested to us by a mutual friend that we could buy a house together in Melbourne as “tenants in common”. We could also set up in our wills that if one died the other could live in the house till they died or decided to sell. That way, we could afford a house in a better suburb that was large enough for both of us to live in quite independently of one another.

I have known this friend for a long time and we do a lot together, so I am confident that we would make it work well. However, I have no idea how this would affect my pension.

What are your thoughts? I will make an appointment with Centrelink to discuss this shared property purchase, but wondered if there is anything else I need to know.

A: If you are planning on the house in Melbourne being your primary place of residence, it will be exempt from the assets test, and the fact that ownership is shared should have minimal impact on your pension.

If you are selling your house in country Victoria to fund your new purchase then any amount you have left over from the sale/purchase will be assessed, but if you keep it as an investment, it would be assessed under the income and asset test, which will affect your pension payments.

As you suggested, an appointment with Centrelink is probably best to ascertain all the implications, but it seems like a solid arrangement.

If you have a Centrelink question, please send it to [email protected] and we’ll do our best to answer it for you.

Disclaimer: All content on YourLifeChoices website is of a general nature and has been prepared without taking into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. It has been prepared with due care but no guarantees are provided for ongoing accuracy or relevance. Before making a decision based on this information, you should consider its appropriateness in regard to your own circumstances. You should seek professional advice from a Centrelink Financial Information Services officer, financial planner, lawyer or tax agent in relation to any aspects that affect your financial and legal circumstances.

Written by Ben

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