Rent assistance

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This page explains eligibility for Rent Assistance when you are receiving a Service Pension, Income Support Supplement, Veteran Payment or Social Security Age Pension paid by DVA.

This information is current for the quarter 20 March 2024 to 30 June 2024.

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What is Rent Assistance

Rent Assistance is a non-taxable government allowance to help you meet the cost of private rental accommodation.

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What is considered to be rent

Rent is any money you pay on a regular basis to occupy a residence. It includes:

  • private rental accommodation
  • hire, rental or leasing of a caravan site or to moor a boat
  • lodging
  • accommodation in a non-government-funded aged care home or similar nursing-type home
  • services in a self-care retirement village (depending on the amount of entry contribution paid)
  • site fees for relocatable homes
  • board and lodging (if you cannot identify the amount paid for lodging, 2/3rds of the total amount you pay is taken to be rent).

You may also be eligible for Rent Assistance if you have sold your principal residence and are paying rent while you wait to buy or build another.

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Who can receive Rent Assistance

To receive Rent Assitance you must:

Rent Assistance is also available for students granted an education allowance.

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Who cannot receive Rent Assistance

You cannot receive Rent Assistance if you:

If you pay rent and have any dependent children under the age of 16, your Rent Assistance will be paid by Services Australia as part of your Family Tax Benefit (refer to Dependent children and your income support payments). Contact Services Australia for information on Rent Assistance if you receive the Family Tax Benefit payment.

There may be exceptions to the above criteria. Please read the following for further information on these eligibility criteria.

Government rent

If you pay rent to a state or territory government housing authority you are not eligible for Rent Assistance. Your rent is already subsidised by the government.

If you sub-let or pay rent to a person (the primary tenant) who pays government rent, you can not receive Rent Assistance, unless:

  • the primary tenant pays market rent to the housing authority
  • you are paying only partial rent
  • the housing authority or organisation has taken your income into consideration as a sub-tenant to determine the rate of government rent payable for the premises.

Homeowners

If you are a homeowner, you may receive Rent Assistance if you:

  • sold your home and are paying rent while you wait to buy another
  • are away from your principal home and you are being cared for in a place that is not a retirement village or a government-funded aged care home
  • are away from your principal home and you are personally caring for another person
  • pay regular rental payments for caravan site and/or mooring rights for a caravan or boat that is your principal home even if you own the caravan or vessel.

If you temporarily leave your principal home to travel in a caravan and pay rent while you travel, you cannot receive Rent Assistance until you have been away from your principal home for more than 12 months.

If you travel or live overseas

You cannot receive Rent Assistance if you live overseas permanently. If you are overseas temporarily and continue to pay rent, your Rent Assistance may continue for 26 weeks after your departure from Australia. Your Rent Assistance will be reinstated when you return to Australia, or from when you tell us of your return to Australia, whichever is later. 

Rent Assistance may be payable beyond 26 weeks if you are temporarily overseas and unable to return to Australia due to unforeseen or exceptional circumstances. 

If just one member of a couple is overseas, only the Rent Assistance for that person will be cancelled. Rent assistance for the partner remaining in Australia will be paid at the single rate.

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How much you can receive

The amount of Rent Assistance you can get depends on how much rent you pay and whether you are single or of a member of a couple.

You must pay a minimum amount of rent before you can be paid Rent Assistance. The minimum amount is called the ‘rent threshold’. For every $1 of rent you pay over the rent threshold you will receive 0.75 cents of Rent Assistance up to a maximum amount.

Rent Assistance rates that apply if you get a means-tested pension from us are shown below.

Fortnightly rent threshold amounts
If you are Your fortnightly rent is more than To get the maximum Rent Assistance your fortnightly rent must be at least The maximum fortnightly Rent Assistance payment is
Single $146.00 $396.93 $188.20
A member of a couple (combined) $236.60 $472.87 $177.20

The above rates do not apply if you receive Family Tax Benefit from Services Australia. Refer to Rates when paid with Family Tax Benefit for further information.

Each partner receives half the A member of a couple (combined) rate.

Rent thresholds and the maximum amount of Rent Assistance are adjusted twice-yearly, in March and September, in line with movements in the cost of living.

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Examples of how Rent Assistance is calculated

Example 1: Single pensioner receiving maximum Rent Assistance

A single pensioner is paying $610.25 per fortnight in rent. The rent threshold is $146.00. For every $1.00 of rent paid that is over the threshold, the single pensioner will receive $0.75.

This equals:

$610.25 (rent) - $146.00 (threshold) = $466.85

$466.85 x $0.75 = $350.14.

The maximum Rent Assistance payment is $188.20 for a single client. As $350.14 is greater than this amount, the client would receive the maximum payment of $188.20 per fortnight in Rent Assistance.

Example 2: Single pensioner receiving less than maximum Rent Assistance

A single pensioner is paying $345.50 per fortnight in rent. The rent threshold is $146.00. For every $1.00 of rent paid that is over the threshold, the single pensioner will receive $0.75.

This equals:

$345.50 (rent) - $146.00 (threshold) = $202.10

$202.10 x $0.75 = $151.58

The maximum Rent Assistance payment is $188.20 for a single client. As $151.58 is less than this amount, the client would receive $151.58 per fortnight in Rent Assistance.

Example 3: Pensioner couple receiving maximum Rent Assistance

A pensioner couple are paying $900.00 per fortnight in rent. The rent threshold is $236.60. For every $1.00 of rent paid that is over the threshold, the couple will receive $0.75.

This equals:

$900.00 (rent) - $236.60 (threshold) = $667.60

$667.60 x $0.75 = $500.70

The maximum Rent Assistance payment is $177.20 for a member of a couple. As $500.70 is greater than this amount, the couple would receive the maximum payment of $177.20 (combined) per fortnight in Rent Assistance. Each member of the couple would therefore receive $87.00 each per fortnight in Rent Assistance.

Example 4: Pensioner couple receiving less than maximum Rent Assistance

A pensioner couple are paying $460.00 per fortnight in rent. The rent threshold is $236.60. For every $1.00 of rent paid that is over the threshold, the couple will receive $0.75.

This equals:

$460.00 (rent) - $236.60 (threshold) = $227.60

$227.60 x $0.75 = $170.70

The maximum Rent Assistance payment is $177.20 for a member of a couple. As $170.70 is less than this amount, the couple would receive $170.70 (combined) per fortnight in Rent Assistance. Each member of the couple would therefore receive $85.35 each per fortnight in Rent Assistance.

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Changes to Rent Assistance from 20 September 2023

As part of the 2023-24 Budget, the maximum rates for Commonwealth Rent Assistance will be increased by 15 percent. Clients receiving the maximum rate could receive an increase to their fortnightly payment.

You do not need to contact DVA in order to receive the increase. If you are eligible for the increase, your payment has been adjusted automatically.

Sharing accommodation

If you are a single Social Security Age pensioner, without children, who shares accommodation with others, the maximum amount of Rent Assistance that you can receive is set at 2/3rds of the maximum single rate.

If you share a major area of accommodation such as a bathroom, kitchen or bedroom in common with at least one other person, the following maximum rate of Rent Assistance would apply:

  • Singles shared rent maximum rate - $125.47
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How to get it

You do not need to submit a claim for Rent Assistance.

We check if you can get Rent Assistance each time you claim a means-tested pension from us, as outlined in Who can receive Rent Assistance.

If you already get a payment from us, we will check if you are eligible for Rent Assistance when you tell us:

  • you have changed address
  • your accommodation details have changed

To confirm your rental amount you will need to:

  • Tell us about the type of rental accommodation and the amount you pay per fortnight
  • Provide a copy of your latest rent receipt or a copy of your lease agreement.

If you do not already get a payment from us

If you make a new claim for Service Pension, Income Support Supplement, Veteran Payment or Social Security Age Pension with us, you do not need to do anything. 

We will check if you can get Rent Assistance as part of your claim.

If you already get a payment from us

You can update your address and accommodation details with us:

  • online through MyService
  • using the general enquiry form
  • by calling us on 1800 VETERAN (1800 838 372) and saying ‘Rent Assistance’ when we ask why you are calling.
  • in person at a DVA VAN office
  • by writing to us at:
    • Department of Veterans' Affairs
    • GPO Box 9998
    • BRISBANE QLD 4001

Note that Rent Assistance cannot be backdated. Payments can only be paid from the payday following notification that you are renting.

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Obligations

Once you start receiving Rent Assistance it is important to let us know within 14 days (28 days if you receive remote area allowance) if:

  • the amount you pay in rent changes
  • you stop paying rent
  • you change your address
  • start paying government rent, including paying rent to another person who pays government rent
  • you are single, and you commence to share the accommodation that you are renting
  • you travel overseas
  • you move into a retirement village or other accommodation
  • you start to receive rent assistance with your Family Tax Benefit for a dependent child.

Usually an overpayment of pension will not occur when you have met your obligations. However, sometimes even if you have met your obligations, an overpayment can occur because we have not been able to process the change before the next payday. 

We do our best to avoid this occurring, but it is not always possible. To provide you with your exact entitlement we are obliged to recover overpayments of pension where they do occur.

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