Dorothy is concerned about the increase in her monthly maintenance fees for her retirement village and would like to know if there is any assistance available from Centrelink?
I live in a retirement estate and when one moves in you purchases the ‘right to live in the estate’. As we don’t actually own the house (we don’t have a title) can I apply for rent assistance, as, from April this year, our maintenance fees will rise to $327 per month?
A. Provided by Centrelink
To be eligible for Rent Assistance a customer must be in receipt of a qualifying payment from Centrelink and satisfy other eligibility criteria.
For situations specific to customers in retirement villages, if a customer is assessed as a non-homeowner, the fees and charges are assessed as rent and Rent Assistance may be payable as long as the customer meets all the other eligibility requirements. If the customer is assessed as a homeowner, they are not eligible for Rent Assistance. When a customer takes up residence in a retirement village the homeowner status is determined by the entry contribution amount (if any) that they have paid.
Currently, if the amount of the entry contribution is less than or equal to the ‘Extra Allowable Amount’, then they may be entitled to Rent Assistance. The ‘Extra Allowable Amount’ is the difference between the non-homeowner and the homeowner asset test limits at the time the arrangement is entered into. You can find the current limits here. The entry contribution amount does not include ongoing costs such as general service or maintenance fees which are payable on a regular basis. Only those facilities covered by state retirement village legislation can be classified as retirement villages.
Lifestyle villages are different from retirement villages and often offer a resort-quality lifestyle for people over 45. Lifestyle villages are administered under specific state-based legislation relating to caravan parks or manufactured homes. People usually own or are buying the home they are living in and pay site or service fees as a condition of occupancy. Rent Assistance may be payable for site or service fees. For example, a couple with no dependent children who pay $175 per week in site fees (and meet all other eligibility) may be entitled to receive a maximum $118.80 per fortnight (combined) in Rent Assistance.
As each individual’s circumstances can vary, we strongly recommend that anyone with financial questions contact The Department of Human Services and speak to a Financial Information Service (FIS) officer. The FIS officer can help with many financial topics, including planning for retirement. This will ensure that customers are given the most accurate information available on how financial decisions will impact potential eligibility for Centrelink payments, including Rent Assistance. Below is a link to information about how to contact the FIS. You can phone 132 300 and ask to speak to a FIS officer. If possible, your questions will be answered over the phone. If there are complex issues to be discussed, the FIS officer may offer to arrange an appointment for you.