Centrelink Rent Assistance explained

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

Centrelink Rent Assistance explained

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 December quarter was $400 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 $62.30 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 $69.80 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 $62.30, leaving $187.70 to which the subsidy applies. If the full amount were to be subsidised to the tune of 75c per dollar, the payment would be $140.78. But because the maximum assistance is $69.80, you would still be $70.98 a week out of pocket, plus the initial $62.30 on which you receive no assistance.

If you are part of a couple, you must pay the first $100.90 of your weekly rent. If your weekly rent is $300, for example, that leaves $201.90 for which each member of the couple receives a maximum weekly rebate of $65.80.

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

If you're

Your fortnightly rent is at least

To get the maximum payment your fortnightly rent is at least

The maximum fortnightly payment is





single, sharer




couple, combined




1 of a couple separated due to illness




1 of a couple temporarily separated




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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Joy Anne
29th May 2020
Rent assistance is not enough for single pensioners wanting a decent place to live. I pay $340pw plus electricity and water and I struggle. I do not get the quarterly benefit from electricity company as the owner wants it in her name so I pay a lot more.
29th May 2020
JoyAnne, which state are you living in? Do you have an approved lease? Are you renting privately from the landlord?

Most leases these days, no matter which state you live in have the utilities - electricity, gas, phone as a responsibility of the tenant, and not the owner.
29th May 2020
A major flaw in the treatment of rent assistance by Centrelink/Government for retirement villages. If you own your home and only rent the land it is on you get rent assistance. In a lease/licence retirement village where you do not own your home, only a right to occupy, you do not get rent assistance. Go figure!
29th May 2020
i pay 680.00 per fortnight
29th May 2020
Most rents where I live start at $400 per week at least, for anything decent. So I would have to share to make it affordable, even with the rent assistance. Not a wonderful prospect for a person in their 70s.....I think rent assistance needs to be increased to reflect the escalating costs.
29th May 2020
Not all that much better for owners, patti. Council rates and body corp is $120 a week and that is with the pensioner discount from the shire council. And people save and scrape to get a house unit to live in, renting is sometimes better and you can have $210'000 more in assets than a unit owner and still get rent assistance.
29th May 2020
It all depends on where you're prepared to live.

For those who prefer the larger cities, then be it on your own head to pay the exorbitant rents that the landlords are asking.

As for me, I prefer to live in a rural city and pay less than half of your quoted price of $400 pw in rent for a 2 bedroom unit for my self. I certainly don't own much - car and household goods, so I have no other choice but to rent.

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