Commonwealth Rent Assistance

Background

Rent Assistance is a non-taxable income supplement payable to eligible people who rent in the private or community housing rental markets. Pensioners, allowees and those receiving more than the base rate of Family Tax Benefit Part A may be eligible for Rent Assistance.

Eligibility conditions

In order to qualify for Rent Assistance, a person or family must qualify for an eligible social security payment, more than the base rate of Family Tax Benefit Part A, or a service pension or income support supplement, and pay or be liable to pay more than a minimum amount of rent, called the rent threshold, for their principal home.

Further, the person must also meet the residency and other requirements of their pension, allowance, or benefit.

Rent Assistance is generally not payable to a person who:

  • pays rent to a government housing authority (such as a housing commission);
  • owns or is buying the home in which they live (except for mobile and relocatable homes);
  • lives in a Commonwealth funded place in a nursing home or other aged care facility;
  • has a partner who receives Rent Assistance with their Family Tax Benefit;
  • is an allowee and has a partner receiving Rent Assistance with a pension; or
  • is a single person without children who lives in their parent's home and is aged under 25 years (or under 21 years if on a Disability Support Pension).

Special rules also apply to couples who do not live together, for anyone who has to live away from their usual home in order to give or receive care, and single people sharing accommodation.

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Rent

Rent is defined as the amount paid or payable at regular intervals by a person as a condition of occupying their principal home and includes amounts paid for:

  • lodgings (if board and lodgings is paid, only the amount paid for lodgings attracts Rent Assistance);
  • the use of a site for a caravan, mobile home, tent or other structure;
  • the right to moor a vessel;
  • services provided in a retirement village  (special conditions apply).

Payment eligibility procedures

Rent Assistance qualification is assessed as part of the process for claiming a social security payment or Family Tax Benefit Part A.  Rent Assistance does not have a separate income or assets test.  However, the amount of Rent Assistance payable may be reduced by the income and asset tests applying to the primary payment.

Rent verification

Recipients of Rent Assistance are required to produce evidence from time to time of the rent amount paid or payable for their accommodation. Acceptable rent verification includes a written tenancy agreement, a rent certificate where a tenancy agreement is not in place, or a rent declaration in exceptional circumstances.

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Rates of Rent Assistance

Rent Assistance is payable at the rate of 75 cents for every dollar of rent payable above the rent threshold until the maximum rate of payment is reached.  Rent thresholds and maximum rates vary according to a customer's family situation and the number of children they have. For singles without children, the maximum rate may be reduced if the accommodation is shared with others. Rent thresholds and maximum rates are indexed in March and September each year to reflect changes in the Consumer Price Index.

Rent Assistance rates for payments under the Social Security Act 1991 (SS Act)
Maximum Rent Assistance Payment per Fortnight

Family Situation

20 March 2017

Single, no children

$132.20

Single, no children, sharer

$88.13

Couple, no children

$124.60

Partnered, illness separated, no children

$132.20

Partnered, temporarily separated, no children

$124.60

Partnered, 1 or 2 children (SS Act)

$78.00

Partnered, 3 or more children (SS Act)

$87.40

Rent threshold

Family Situation

20 March 2017

Single, no children

$117.80

Single, no children, sharer

$117.80

Couple, no children

$191.00

Partnered, illness separated, no children

$117.80

Partnered, temporarily separated, no children

$117.80

Partnered, 1 or 2 children (SS Act)

$229.40

Partnered, 3 or more children (SS Act)

$229.40

Minimum Rent to get Maximum Rent Assistance Payment
Family Situation 20 March 2017

Single, no children

$294.07

Single, no children, sharer

$235.31

Couple, no children

$357.13

Partnered, illness separated, no children

$294.07

Partnered, temporarily separated, no children

$283.93

Partnered, 1 or 2 children (SS Act)

$437.40

Partnered, 3 or more children (SS Act)

$462.47

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Rent Assistance rates for payments under the A New Tax System (Family Assistance) Act 1999
Maximum Rent Assistance Payment per Fortnight

Family Situation

20 March 2017

Single, 1 or 2 children

$155.26

Single, 3 or more children

$175.42

Couple, 1 or 2 children

$155.26

Couple, 3 or more children

$175.42

Couple, Illness Separated, Temporarily Separated

1 or 2 children

$155.26

3 or More children

$175.42

Rent threshold

Family Situation

20 March 2017

Single, 1 or 2 children

$154.84

Single, 3 or more children

$154.84

Couple, 1 or 2 children

$229.18

Couple, 3 or more children

$229.18

Couple, Illness Separated, Temporarily Separated

1 or 2 children

$154.84

3 or more children

$154.84

Minimum Rent to get Maximum Rent Assistance Payment

Family Situation

20 March 2017

Single, 1 or 2 children

$361.85

Single, 3 or more children

$388.73

Couple, 1 or 2 children

$436.19

Couple, 3 or more children

$463.07

Couple, Illness Separated, Temporarily Separated

1 or 2 children

$361.85

3 or more children

$388.73

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Default Minimums Rent Assistance amounts for Shared Care Situations
Maximum Rent Assistance Payment per Fortnight

Family Situation

20 March 2017

Single

$132.86

Partnered

$125.16

Partnered, Partner in Gaol, Illness Separated Couple, Respite Care Couple

$132.86

Partnered, Temporarily Separated

$125.16

Rent threshold

Family Situation

20 March 2017

Single

$117.74

Partnered

$191.80

Partnered, Partner in Gaol, Illness Separated Couple, Respite Care Couple

$117.74

Partnered, Temporarily Separated

$117.74

Minimum Rent to get Maximum Rent Assistance Payment

Family Situation

20 March 2017

Single

$294.89

Partnered

$358.68

Partnered, Partner in Gaol, Illness Separated Couple, Respite Care Couple

$294.89

Partnered, Temporarily Separated

$284.62

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Annual Rent Assistance rates for payments under the A New Tax System (Family Assistance) Act 1999
Maximum Rent Assistance Payment per Annum

Family Situation

20 March 2017

Single, 1 or 2 children

$4,047.85

Single, 3 or more children

$4,573.45

Couple, 1 or 2 children

$4,047.85

Couple, 3 or more children

$4,573.45

Couple, Illness Separated, Temporarily Separated

1 or 2 children

$4,047.85

3 or more children

$4,573.45

Annual Rent threshold

Family Situation

20 March 2017

Single, 1 or 2 children

$4,036.90

Single, 3 or more children

$4,036.90

Couple, 1 or 2 children

$5,975.05

Couple, 3 or more children

$5,975.05

Couple, Illness Separated, Temporarily Separated

1 or 2 children

$4,036.90

3 or more children

$4,036.90

Annual Minimum Rent to get Maximum Payment

Family Situation

20 March 2017

Single, 1 or 2 children

$9,434.03

Single, 3 or more children

$10,134.83

Couple, 1 or 2 children

$11,372.18

Couple, 3 or more children

$12,072.98

Couple, Illness Separated, Temporarily Separated

1 or 2 children

$9,434.03

3 or more children

$10,134.83

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Annual Default Minimums Rent Assistance amounts for Shared Care Situations
Maximum Rent Assistance Payment per Annum

Family Situation

20 March 2017

Single

$3,463.85

Partnered

$3,263.10

Partnered, Partner in Gaol, Illness Separated Couple, Respite Care Couple

$3,463.85

Partnered, Temporarily Separated

$3,263.10

Rent threshold

Family Situation

20 March 2017

Single

$3,069.65

Partnered

$5,000.50

Partnered, Partner in Gaol, Illness Separated Couple, Respite Care Couple

$3,069.65

Partnered, Temporarily Separated

$3,069.65

Annual Minimum Rent to get Maximum Rent Assistance Payment

Family Situation

20 March 2017

Single

$7,688.12

Partnered

$9,351.30

Partnered, Partner in Gaol, Illness Separated Couple, Respite Care Couple

$7,688.12

Partnered, Temporarily Separated

$7,420.45

Further information on Rent Assistance paid under the Social Security Act 1991 and the A New Tax System (Family Assistance) Act 1999 is available from the Department of Human Services website.

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