How does buying a house with a friend affect the pension?

Robyn is looking to move closer to the city and is considering buying a house with a friend.

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.


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.


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    29th Oct 2018
    I wonder whether politicians assets are being assessed too...??!!!!
    29th Oct 2018
    Hi Robyn,just to let you know,it can be done and myself and friend have been sharing now for 5 years with Centrelinks blessings,it did take a little while to set up though,I guess like everything to do with centrelink it is open to abuse....Good Luck
    29th Oct 2018
    A pension is not welfare.

    Now is the season for discontent, so do something about it!
    It is time to kill off this insane hugely expensive pensioner whacking bureaucracy.

    It is time for all of us (yes that means you) to rant at our MPs and Senators daily to take action for human decency and a huge stress reduction for pensioners

    A pension is not welfare.

    Most economist say we will save taxpayers money by dropping asset testing because of the massive overheads cost in running Centrelink and the 10,000 conflicting rules.

    Hiring more Centrelink staff will only increase taxpayer’s costs for processing the creeping insane red tape monster system politicians and well paid bureaucrats have created.

    Help scrap it now. Become a hero.

    Even poorer New Zealand has a NO ASSET pension so it is cheaper and user friendly.

    Why worry that few million$ earners get it too. That is peanuts to them, not enough for a good vintage champagne.

    Do retired and retiring people really look forward and want 100++ visits to/from Centrelink and be part of 3 million waiting queues and lost calls?

    The solution is simple: Rant at your MP and senator(s) every day

    30th Oct 2018
    Two of my neighbours are couples - one couple married 40+ years and go everywhere together. But they live in a ''shared house'' and both get full single pensions. They tell me often how stupid I am to be honest about being married.
    24th Jul 2020
    Centrelink should reassess the couple who are married. They should be receiving the couple rate of pension, and not the single rate!

    Just because they live in a 'shared house', it's no reason to be dishonest about the nature of the relationship.
    20th Jan 2019
    We are asked to save on super, but this money is counted as an asset and Centerlink helps itself to any dollars over the threshold you may have, so this is an oxymoron, v.g. you save money so that Centrelink can help itself to it, tk u very much.
    This does not affect people who haven't saved on super nor does it affect people who have a million or more in super, it only affects the middle class Aussie who managed to put a few dollars aside so as to enjoy a better retirement. To make this system fairer, all the Govt needs to do is (a) Increase the meagre threshold by $ 100k or (b) Exempt the first $ 100k in super from the asset test, this would really reward people who've sacrificed some money for a better retirement. Will anyone be able to pass this simple idea on to some polllies?

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