Explainer: Rent Assistance

Millions of older Australians live solely on the Age Pension while also paying private rent. It’s a precarious position, but some government help is available in the form of Rent Assistance.

Rent Assistance is an extra payment paid to anybody receiving an eligible government pension, while also paying rent to a landlord.

The eligible government pensions are the Age Pension, Carer Payment, Disability Support Pension, ABSTUDY Living Allowance, Special Benefit, Family Tax Benefit, Parenting Payment, JobSeeker Payment of Farm Household Allowance.

Read: March 2022 Low Income Health Care Card changes

You’ll need to provide Centrelink with proof of your rental agreement. As well as paying to a private landlord, ‘rent’ also covers fees paid to a retirement village, lodging arrangements and site or mooring fees if your main place of residence is a caravan, relocatable home or a boat.

The amount of Rent Assistance you receive depends on the amount of rent you pay. The amounts in the table below are for people without dependent children.

If you’reYour fortnightly rent is more thanTo get the maximum payment your fortnightly rent is at leastThe maximum fortnightly payment is
single, sharer$130.20$259.80$97.20
couple, combined$210.80$394.00$ 137.40
1 of a couple separated due to illness$130.20$324.60$ 145.80
1 of a couple temporarily separated$130.20$313.40$137.40

You can’t get Rent Assistance if:

  • you own or are buying the home you live in, except relocatable homes
  • you’re travelling away from the home you own for less than 12 months
  • if the government pays a subsidy to the approved residential aged care facility where you live
  • your partner gets Rent Assistance with the Family Tax Benefit
  • if you get an allowance and your partner gets Rent Assistance with their pension
  • if you’re leasing from a state or territory housing authority.

Read: What happens to your Age Pension if you win the lotto?

If you live in a retirement village

There are special rules when it comes to claiming Rent Assistance while living in a retirement village.

Like all Centrelink payments, Rent Assistance is subject to the assets test. As part of this test, you will be assessed as either a ‘homeowner’ or a ‘non-homeowner’.

Your homeowner status in a retirement village is based the entry fee you paid when entering the retirement village. This fee can sometimes be up to the full market value of the unit.

If you’re assessed as a non-homeowner, you can get Rent Assistance, which will be based on the ongoing fees you’re paying to the operators.

If you’re assessed as being a homeowner, you will unfortunately be ineligible for Rent Assistance, regardless of any ongoing fees or your Age Pension eligibility status.

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Written by Brad Lockyer