Rent Assistance on site fees

Janet is looking to purchase a unit in an over-55s complex and would like to know if she’ll receive Rent Assistance to cover site and amenities fees.

Q. Janet
I am in the process of selling my marital home and when this is complete, I am contemplating buying a park home. I am still working part-time and receive a part Age Pension from Centrelink, and as I am renting I also receive Rent Assistance. However, my question is if I purchase the park home which is in an over 55s complex, the site and amenities rent is extra. As I will own the unit, will I be eligible for a subsidy on that or not?

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. 

You can view the current Rent Assistance rates and thresholds here.

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.

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Written by Debbie McTaggart

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