How government Rent Assistance works

There are strict rules and limits relating to how much Rent Assistance you can receive.

Explained: Rent assistance

While rents have not increased as quickly as other prices over the past couple of years, such as energy and health insurance, the fact remains that if you are a tenant and not working or retired, your housing cost will be high.

In Victoria alone, the latest statistics show that the median, state-wide rent for the June quarter was $395 a week.

Centrelink Rent Assistance can help tenants with housing costs, although unless you are living in cheap, substandard accommodation, the payment is only going to go part of the way.

For starters, you need to be paying at least $60.60 a week in rent to qualify for the assistance. If you are single and live alone, for every $1 of rent you pay above this amount, you'll get 75c, up to a maximum of $67.90 a week. You can’t get more than the maximum amount.

Under this scenario, if your rent was, for instance, $250 a week, you pay the first $60.60, leaving $189.40 to which the subsidy applies. If the full amount were to be subsidised to the tune of 75c per dollar, the payment would be $142.05. But because the maximum assistance is $67.90, you would still be $74.15 a week out of pocket, plus the initial $60.60 on which you receive no assistance.

Thus, instead of paying $1000 a month, assistance would reduce your rent to $539.

If you are part of a couple, you must pay the first $98.10 of your weekly rent. If your weekly rent is $300, for example, that leaves $201.90 for which you can receive a maximum weekly rebate of $64 combined. That leaves $137.90 for you to cough up in addition to the initial $98.10.

Your weekly out-of-pocket rent of $236 becomes $944 a month compared with the landlord’s charge of $1200.

See below to understand how rent assistance could help you, but be aware that the figures in the table are stated as fortnightly payments.

Centrelink may adjust your Rent Assistance if your rent increases or decreases, if you move house, your income fluctuates or your family circumstances change; for example, if you separate from your partner.

The Government uses a Rent Certificate to confirm individuals’ rent details. To obtain this certificate, request an SU523 form online, fill it out and resend online.

If you live in community housing, ask the organisation managing your housing community if they use the Electronic Verification of Rent (EVoR) scheme.

Rent Assistance for maintenance, accommodation or service fees is available to lodgers and to those paying to occupy or moor at a site.

If you are receiving Rent Assistance and your circumstances change, you must alert Centrelink immediately. If you deliberately do not explain any changes, the Government can force you to pay back any overpayment and potentially charge you with fraud.

Do you rely on Rent Assistance to pay for your housing? If so, how adequate or inadequate is this payment for your circumstances?



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    12th Dec 2018
    Always intrigued as to how a resident in a retirement village who does not own their unit, only a lease or licence to occupy DOES NOT qualify for rent assistance BUT a retiree who actually owns their home but merely rents the land in a quasi retirement village DOES qualify for rent assistance. Go figure!
    12th Dec 2018
    Yes, it’s another anomaly. Some of those homes in the over 55 lifestyle villages can be worth over $650k. Those who bought them are not poor, so why are they receiving rent assistance. If you live in a normal unit, townhouse etc. there is no subsidy for the Body Corporate fees
    12th Dec 2018
    In my area the cheapest place to rent would be over $400 per week, and much higher for most rentals. So if you are on a benefit you can't afford to live there, so must either share accommodation or live in a tent, or your car if you have one. It is great to have the rent assistance, but it is woefully inadequate given the rising cost of living. And if you are struggling to pay a mortgage and lose your job, for example, you get no housing assistance at all. No wonder there are so many homeless people in this country. We need more social housing as a priority.
    12th Dec 2018
    Do not and never have agreed with rent assistance. I believe it to be a shocking waste of taxpayers money. This is another reason why the Australian health system and hospitals are heading towards the third world country status. You live where you can afford, if you can't afford to live in the city, a group of people should move to the country, sharing expenses and living off their pension, No Frills living. I feel the government adequately looks after the majority of pensioners and non pensioners should get off their ass and get a job that pays more if you wish to live in your chosen suburbs/areas in the lifestyle to which you believe you deserve. If you can't afford to pay your rent you certainly can't afford to own and run a car, get your priorities right, live as your parents or their parents did in the 40s and 50s, Wake Up Australia there's no such thing as a free lunch or a free ride these days. Cheers Jacka.
    12th Dec 2018
    Agree 100%
    12th Dec 2018
    I wouldn't go that far, as there are extenuating circumstances in which some people genuinely need and deserve help - but I can't see the logic in rewarding people for not paying off a mortgage. Most retired Australians could have paid off a home if they had made the effort. Now those who did are penalized. That makes no sense to me. If the government stopping punishing people for doing what's good for the economy, more people might do what helps the budget.
    Not sure if it's still the case, but in the USA mortgage interest on your home used to be tax deductible. The idea was to encourage people to buy a home. Seems sensible to me.
    12th Dec 2018
    .... you obviously don't rent with such a reply Jacka? You seriously need to move with the times - you are not only talking rubbish but also living in La la land! Cheers ......
    12th Dec 2018
    Think about it Jacka, an elderly person most probably has help and support from family members, if that elderly person moves miles away to save money on rent then the help needed has to come from government. That would take up all the taxpayer money saved. I also can't understand anyone who would quite happily drag someone from their home and family and transport them to an area where they don't know anyone, have no friends, in other words, treat them as though they are not entitled to any humanity or dignity just because they happen to have fallen on hard times. And as for living like we did in 40's and 50's I think a house in Melbourne cost about $2000 - $3000. Oh, yes, bring back the 40's and 50's.
    13th Dec 2018
    Triss, have you ever considered who pays for the luxuries you think people are ENTITLED to enjoy, just because they THINK they ''fell on hard times'' (in fact, in most cases - not all, but most - they were irresponsible).

    We have a situation now where people who worked their guts out for 5 decades and lived very frugally are far worse off than their pensioner counterparts, and are being threatened with the loss of another 30% of their income. And all you can do is rant about the ENTITLEMENTS of those who live off the proceeds of these workers' sacrifices.

    Sorry, I'm very empathetic. My partner and I were orphans, and we've done it very tough. We know all about hardship and we are strong supporters of demands for an adequate welfare system, but the handouts have gone too far. We need incentives for people to get off their bums and strive for self-sufficiency, and to achieve that we need to STOP PUNISHING PEOPLE WHO WORK AND SAVE and start being fair to them.

    Welfare shouldn't be pandying to whims and wants - offering indulgences workers and savers can't have. When people who work their guts out and pay hefty taxes can't afford to live where they choose, and have to move away from family and transport, why should welfare recipients expect better?

    Rates, insurance, home maintenance, body corporate fees... these costs are crippling people, yet they get NOTHING BUT ABUSE AND MORE DEMANDS. I can appreciate why they are unwilling to see their tax dollars spent giving welfare recipients benefits taxpayers can't afford.

    And wasn't it you who said we need a ''pensioners'' party - one that will offer no representation for the struggling and much maligned self-funded retirees?

    12th Dec 2018
    Either way, rent assistance or not, pensioners that rent do it tough.
    12th Dec 2018
    Jackie so true I rent but am lucky that rent does not go up for me. I had a f friend in a housing trust unit. She it tough. She had medical care on top of utilities. Just recently the government put up rent by $50.00If she was not alive would not survive financially, Government must show more compassion. The option of renting through public housing is meant to be cheaper. Not right
    12th Dec 2018
    So do retired home owners - whether pensioners or not - especially those who haven't yet paid off their mortgage. Rates and home insurance is crippling. If it's an older home, maintenance can be horrendous. Yet there's no help there. Just a reward - albeit a small one - for not having done the hard yards to buy a home.
    12th Dec 2018
    Public Housing Tenants only pay 25% of their assessable income. They are lucky. Most pensioners who rent in the private market pay a lot more
    12th Dec 2018
    I'd rather rent a unit from a private landlord than rent thru housing or a community housing agency.

    Yes, housing takes 25% of the base pension (not including the supplements), which is far more than I'm paying in private rental.

    Community housing take ALL the rent assistance plus 20% of the base pension. I currently rent @ $170 per week, but the cost of a community housing unit would be well over $180 per week. Who's better off? Me in private rental.

    With both of these rental situations, the rent you pay is recalculated every 6 months, when we receive our cost of living increase in our pension. Then add to the additional rent you've got to pay, there's the insurances, energy, and other services which are increased every year.

    How on earth are we supposed to get ahead, when we're constantly bombarded with increases? We're not, according to the lazy governments (both liberal & labor!).
    12th Dec 2018
    Yes, Jackie, they are the poorest of all. Envying them or judging them is unhelpful and some on here have no concept of poverty to be so hardlined on others.
    The people I know renting are not wasters or bludgers or learners they are decent people making the most of the lot they have. They don’t complain they just manage. They certainly don’t judge others who have a home or super or no money worries. People have businesses that go bust, they have marriage breakups, they have medical issues, etc.
    13th Dec 2018
    Maybe if ''people'' started showing respect and consideration for those they WRONGLY THINK are cruising through life, instead of selfishly ignoring pleas for support to oppose unfairness - because ''pensioners won't be affected'' - there would be less ''unhelpful judging''.

    I know all about poverty, Paddington. I battled for 50 years to escape it. You'd be hard pressed to find many who have experienced the hardship I've endured. And now I'm being threatened with a return to it, because of the unfair policies you support because ''pensioners won't be affected''.

    Judging and envying works both ways. When the welfare recipients here start showing some consideration and respect for those who are struggling to CONTRIBUTE to the budget, rather than take from it, maybe they will see more support for their cause?

    And as for wasters - every renter I know is a prize waster. They don't THINK they are, but they certainly are. I can't identify anyone who has GENUINELY been unable to save enough to buy a home. I know there are a few - and there are a few who had one and lost it through genuine misfortune. But we have millions on rent assistance, and the vast majority were just wasters.

    How do you think it feels, Paddington, to be faced with losing 30% of your income and have a visitor who receives a full pension, full benefits and concessions, franking credit refunds on his investments, and rent assistance, boasting about taking his family out to dinner weekly, and telling us about the wonderful times they had on their around the world cruise? And then excusing the ALP because 'pensioners are exempt'?
    12th Dec 2018
    care for 4 adult family members for 3.50 an hour ( dont tell me others can do it , they cant /wont. rent assistance isn't enough if carers got what we should ( like those who care for strangers) taxes would double
    12th Dec 2018
    At least one of those people is your ex isn't it tisme? Therefore, it has been YOUR choice to continue to be their carer long after moral or legal responsibility to do so.

    As for the rest, isn't that exactly what families should do and as it was in days gone by? Why should the Government do what always used to be a family obligation - especially when there is a willing family member i.e. YOU! Likewise at the other end of the life cycle; why is it a Government responsibility to provide childcare?

    You could always become a properly qualified carer and be paid a wage for doing the same thing. But then I fully expect you have an excuse for not doing that either, right?
    12th Dec 2018
    I dont understand the way this is put.

    Rental assistance doesn't apply to the remainder of anything. Its a fixed maximum amount About $137 a fortnight.

    This is purposely set below the average rent, but for rare cases there is a low rent limit where you get no assistance, because you are not paying much rent

    If your rent is $400 a fortnight, your actual rent in theory is ($400 minus $137)
    If your rent is $600 a fortnight your actual rent in theory is ($600 minus $137)

    Ideal rent would be $200 a fortnight but who can get that.
    13th Dec 2018
    And I suppose you think the taxpayers who are paying more than $200 a WEEK to live in their own homes should supply accommodation at that IDEAL rent?

    Rent assistance is NOT fixed. It's relative to what you pay, up to an upper limit. And it's not intended to be anywhere near 'average' rent, because taxpayers have to pay for it - and they don't have the luxury of someone else paying for their accommodation in the ''average rental''.

    The 'entitled' who whinge about it not being enough never consider the people who pay for it. Oh, but that's right. They are 'lucky' - so should have to give everything they work for away to people who aren't. What a load of ill-informed, selfish CROCK! No wonder the nation is in a mess with this absurd attitude.
    12th Dec 2018
    12th Dec 2018
    Not very well explained at all.
    Very confusing.
    12th Dec 2018
    Good one Foxy, you're obviously a bludger, another sucking the life out of the social security system. Good on ya, NOT. Jacka.
    12th Dec 2018
    .... to "assume is to be an ass" Jacka(ss) ......... you have NO idea whatsoever who I am - what I do etc. etc. - so on that note - go back to your ignorant comments and get yourself a life!

    Ohhh ... and whilst you at it (getting a life) - learn how to hit "reply" ....lolololol
    13th Dec 2018
    lot of anger in the words of some people on this site
    15th Dec 2018
    I paid $340 a week rent = $680 a fortnight and received rent assistance which helped to the tune of $128 a fortnight. I couldn't afford heat, electricity, and often food. $340 a week rent was the cheapest rent I could find in Melbourne - within 30 minutes travel to Emergency at hospital which is a requirement of my medical disabilities. All this was back in 2011. I hate to think what the rent is now. These days, I camp in the corner of the back room of a friend's place and pay $180 a fortnight storage while I am her carer. I have no room, no privacy and no spare cash.

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