Can you claim rent assistance for retirement village fees?

Will Elsa’s mother be able to claim rent assistance on retirement village fees?

Elsa’s mother is moving into a serviced apartment in a retirement village, and is paying for the unit. Would she be eligible for rent assistance?


Q. Elsa
My mum turns 88 next month and is moving to a serviced apartment in a retirement village. She will pay for the unit and they take 85 per cent of her weekly pension for her meals and cleaning. This does not leave her a lot of money for extras – personal hygiene, clothes, shoes and extra food she might like. They have said she may be eligible for rent assistance, but I have not been able to find out if this is possible. Can you help, please?

A. 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 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 which 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. 

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. You can make an appointment by calling 13 2300.


    Disclaimer: All content on YourLifeChoices website is of a general nature and has been prepared without taking into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. It has been prepared with due care but no guarantees are provided for ongoing accuracy or relevance. Before making a decision based on this information, you should consider its appropriateness in regard to your own circumstances. You should seek professional advice from a Centrelink Financial Information Services officer, financial planner, lawyer or tax agent in relation to any aspects that affect your financial and legal circumstances.


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    11th Mar 2019
    They are such rip offs these places! She owns the place so she would not be eligible for rent assistance. She would have other bills like rates, insurance and repairs, etc. if she is owning the place as well. Why would her meals and cleaning be $350 value?
    They know she is not eligible for rent assistance as they deal with this all the time.
    Cleaning is done by councils for pensioners for a token fee of $10. They also arrange meals at a nominal fee.
    As I said, rip off merchants!
    11th Mar 2019
    Paddington- most retirement villages people "lease" their unit. They can get rent assistance if they paid up to I think about $200,000 for the lease(the amount changes). These people Do NOT pay council rates or water rates.
    I am in a retirement village where I "own" the land, so I have a registered land title I pay council and water rates. But our monthly maintenance fees are a lot lower than those that are leased. I can sell my unit at current market rate. A leased unit only gets back what they paid less the exit fees.

    i also have exit fees. And I am also bound by the Retirement act rules. The benefit to living in a retirement village is that we are a community, and most of the functions are run by the residents. As a single woman, the maintenance men can come and fix handy man type of problems(part of my fees). i don;t have to mow lawns. I have my own 2 bedroom unit with a garage and my own enclosed back yard. I still work(afew of us do)
    I feel safe. I can participate as much or as little as I like. I don't pay the huge amount of money that the lady in the story does. She is paying what a person would pay to go into a nursing home- 85% of the pension. She probably can get rent assistance. My mum was in a similar place, and was paying more than her pension, and she got rent assistance.
    11th Mar 2019
    I am glad yours is a good deal but many are not unfortunately!
    She sounds like she is at the mercy of the awful place she is in. Poor woman!
    I thought if you own your home there is no rent assistance as you are not paying rent.
    It probably works for you as you work and understand your deal but others go in and then get caught.
    One trap is renting the land which is about $200 in some places and then there is the ongoing fees on top of that.
    Need to do your homework and be satisfied beforehand which you have done.
    retired lady
    11th Mar 2019
    In South Australia rent relief is a joke for co-operatives. I believe tenants in housing trust places get their rent relief but I am not sure. However the federal government give it to those in co-ops but the South Australia government take it away before we even see it. They say it goes to new housing which is a laugh. No one seems to care. I wrote to our MP and got the run-around. I wonder if it was their loved one whether they would fight for it.
    14th Mar 2019
    what's all that in English? I have problems understanding these rules and regulations.
    2nd Jul 2020
    This has been 1 year ago. The situation today with the on going pandemic is much more crucial. I read an article where in an old man is struggling to pay the rent, most of his savings are going to it. Kinda heartbreaking, I hope we can do somehting about this.
    Maybe lowering down the standards so that rent assistance would be achievable. I don't want the same thing to happen to me after I working.

    - Frey Karts, Bug control company

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