Will you be eligible for Rent Assistance?

man and a caravan

A YourLifeChoices reader plans to live in a caravan after he retires and wants to know his entitlements while renting. Can you claim Rent Assistance while living in a caravan or mobile home?

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Q. When I retire, I will be relying heavily on the Age Pension and whatever supplements I can also get. Can you claim the Rent Assistance payment while you are living in a caravan? I will not have a home as a base or asset and my van will be my primary and only place of residence.

A. Services Australia has many difficult and dense rules, but thankfully for Ray, the answer is a simple ‘yes’.

Services Australia says you are entitled to Rent Assistance payments if you pay “site or mooring fees if your main home is a caravan, relocatable home or a boat”.

You are also entitled to Rent Assistance if you pay ordinary rent, fees in a retirement village, lodging, and board and lodging.

But let’s track back a bit and explain Rent Assistance and how it works.

The Rent Assistance payment is a regular, non-taxable payment if you pay rent in the private market or community housing and also receive certain payments for Centrelink, including the Age Pension.

You don’t need to submit a separate claim for Rent Assistance. Centrelink will check your eligibility when you apply for the Age Pension.

Rental review

You may need to complete a rent certificate or provide a lease agreement, but only if Centrelink asks for it. They may do this periodically as part of a review of your rental details. Generally, a review will ask for confirmation of your rental details that may include your lease agreement. You must return it in the time frame Centrelink requires or your Rent Assistance payment may be stopped.

How much Rent Assistance you get depends on how much you pay. As a result, if your rent changes, you will need to notify Centrelink.

You must also notify Centrelink if you change address, your income changes, your marital status changes, you have any dependent children in your care or people move in or out of the residence.

We’re not sure when Ray is retiring, but in more good news, the Rent Assistance payment will be increased from 20 September 2023. The exact amount is not known yet as the increase must be legislated and pass through parliament.

Do you have a caravan? Would you consider living in it? Why not share your opinion in the comments section below?

Do you have a question about Centrelink or other government entitlements? Send it to newsletters@yourlifechoices.com.au and we’ll do our best to help you out – or find someone who can.

Also read: Can I replace my paid work with a part pension?

Written by Jan Fisher

Accomplished journalist, feature writer and sub-editor with impressive knowledge of the retirement landscape, including retirement income, issues that affect Australians planning and living in retirement, and answering YLC members' Age Pension and Centrelink questions. She has also developed a passion for travel and lifestyle writing and is fast becoming a supermarket savings 'guru'.

One Comment

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  1. Rent Assistance! BE AWARE – that if you live in your caravan – there are TWO types of Rent Assistance forms.

    IF you live in a unit, house or other “bricks and mortar building” – and have a lease of any type – then you claim on a “RENT ASSISTANCE” Form.

    IF you live in a caravan or motorhome and travel – and intermittently pay rent or site fees, then you claim on a “RENT DECLARATION” Form. “336m” Form. YOU WON’T FIND IT ON THE CENTRELINK WEBSITE!

    It took us four years to find that out!! And Centrelink staff have no idea!

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