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.
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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.Back to top
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
- 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.Back to top
Who can receive rent assistance
To receive rent assistance you must:
- be receiving a means-tested pension such as a Service Pension, Income Support Supplement, Veteran Payment or Social Security Age Pension paid by DVA
- live in Australia
- pay rent other than government (public housing) rent
- pay at least the minimum threshold in rent.
Rent assistance is also available for students granted an education allowance.Back to top
Who cannot receive rent assistance
You cannot receive rent assistance if you
- pay rent to a government housing authority
- own or are paying off the home you live in, unless you are exempt for reasons outlined below
- have a long term accommodation arrangement such as life interest from a deceased estate (refer to Granny Flats, Retirement Villages and Sale Leaseback Agreements)
- live overseas either permanently or temporarily for long periods of time (refer to Travelling or Living Overseas)
- live in a government-funded aged care home (refer to Aged Care and Your Income Support Pension)
- paid an entry contribution of over $242,000 to live in a retirement village, whether single or a member of a couple
- receive an incentive allowance from Centrelink
- pay rent less than the minimum threshold
If you (or your partner) have a dependent child under 16, you will not receive rent assistance from DVA. Any rent assistance entitlement will be added to your Family Tax Benefit payment payable through the Family Assistance Office (refer to Dependent Children and your Income Support Payments).
There may be exceptions to the above criteria. Please read the following for further information on these eligibility criteria.
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’t receive rent assistance, unless
- the primary tenant pays market rent to the housing authority
- you are paying only partial rent or
- 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.
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’ve 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.Back to top
How rent assistance is calculated
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. The rent thresholds depend on whether you are single or a member of a couple.
The rent thresholds shown below are fortnightly figures.
|Payment type||Rent threshold|
Rent thresholds are adjusted twice-yearly, in March and September, in line with movements in the cost of living.
A single person is paying $191.40 per fortnight in rent. The rent threshold is $143.40. For every $1.00 of rent paid that is over the threshold, the single pensioner will receive $0.75.
$191.40 (rent) - $143.40 (threshold) = $48.00
$48.00 x $0.75 = $36.00.
This means the single pensioner would receive $36.00 per fortnight in rent assistance.Back to top
What is the maximum amount of rent assistance
The maximum amount of rent assistance you can receive depends on whether you are single or a member of a couple.
The maximum fortnightly amounts of rent assistance are:
- Singles rate - $184.80
- Couples rate (combined) - $174.00
*Note: - Each partner receives half the Couples (combined) rate.
The maximum amount of rent assistance is adjusted twice-yearly, in March and September, in line with movements in the cost of living.Back to top
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.
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 - $123.20
How do I apply for rent assistance
To apply for rent assistance, there are a number of ways you can give us information. You can:
- Send us a request using the general enquiry form.
- Send us a message in MyService by selecting the ‘Help’ button.
- Phone us on 1800 VETERAN (1800 838 372) and say ‘rent assistance’ when we ask why you are calling.
- Visit a DVA office to speak with us in person.
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
Note that rent assistance cannot be backdated. Payments can only be paid from the payday following notification that you are renting.Back to top
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.Back to top