Retirement village rent assistance

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?

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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.

Written by Ben

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