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What is Rent Assistance and How Much Can I Get? 

February 20, 2024
rent assistance

Rent takes a big bite on the budget of lower-income households. Rent assistance can help in such a situation, but it isn’t for everyone. There are so many guidelines on how this social welfare payment is granted.

For instance, only people getting payments from Services Australia (Centrelink) can receive Rent Assistance.

So, let’s wade in on what rent assistance is and the possible amount you can get if you’re qualified for it.

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What is rent assistance?

Generally, those who receive social security payments from Centrelink Australia and pay rent can get regular rent assistance from Centrelink as well.

This is a non-taxable supplemental payment for Australians renting in community housing or the private rental market. When it comes to frugal living in Australia, rent assistance can be very helpful.

Social Services Australia defines rent as the amount payable or paid by a person at regular intervals as a condition for occupying a principal residence. In short, rent assistance is an extra amount of rent money provided to you by social services.

This amount will be input into the rent assistance calculator to compute the amount you can get.

According to the Social Services Australia, payments on the following are considered rent:

  • Lodgings (rental bonds or insurance are excluded)
  • Site use for a mobile home, caravan, tent, or other structure
  • Docking or mooring right for a vessel
  • Services provided in a retirement village 

How much is rent assistance?

rent assistance

So, how much rent assistance can Centrelink give you?

The rates for rent assistance differ, depending on two situations. There’s no such thing as a $500 rent assistance outright. 

The rent assistance rate is separately determined for those renting with no dependent children and others with dependent children.

Those eligible for rent assistance will have to pay a minimum amount of average rent each fortnight. The minimum rent amounts are indicated in the two tables below. 

The rent assistance you can get depends on how much rent you pay. Use a rent assistance calculator to check exactly how much you can get. 

You might also like to know that there will be a Centrelink payment increase in 2024 which is additional help for those receiving assistance.

How rent assistance is calculated

For every $1 of rent paid over the minimum rent amount, 75c in rent assistance is given until the maximum payment limit is reached. This ratio should be a given in your rent calculator.

The maximum amount of rent assistance for a single person at the time of publishing is $184.80 per fortnight. However, the exact amount you can receive depends on various factors, including your income, family circumstances, and the rent you pay.

The amounts in the tables below, however, can change on 20 March and 20 September each year. This is because the rent threshold or minimum rent amount, and maximum rates are indexed to changes in the consumer price index of those months.

Hence, you should be alert to such adjustments that will affect your inputs for a rent assistance calculator.

Rates when paid with income support payments and ABSTUDY

If you’reYour fortnightly rent is more thanTo get the maximum payment your fortnightly rent is at leastThe maximum fortnightly payment is
single$143.40$389.80$184.80
single, sharer$143.40$307.67$123.20
couple, combined$232.40$464.40$174.00
one of a couple separated due to illness, partner in respite care or prison$143.40$389.80$184.80
one of a couple temporarily separated$143.40$375.40$174.00
Source: Services Australia Rent Assistance payments 2024

Rates when paid with Family Tax Benefit

If you’reYour fortnightly rent is more thanTo get the maximum payment your fortnightly rent is at leastThe maximum fortnightly payment is
single, with 1 or 2 children$188.44$478.15$217.28
single, with 3 or more children$188.44$515.67$245.42
a couple, with 1 or 2 children$278.46$568.17$217.28
a couple, with 3 or more children$278.46$605.69$245.42
one of a couple separated due to illness, partner in respite care or prison, or temporarily separated, with 1 or 2 children$188.44$478.15$217.28
one of a couple separated due to illness, partner in respite care or prison, or temporarily separated, with 3 or more children$188.44$515.67$245.42
Source: Services Australia Rent Assistance payments 2024

Are you eligible for rent assistance?

rent assistance

Get ready with the rent assistance calculator if you’re paying rent while also getting any of the following social welfare payments: 

  • Age Pension, Carer Payment, or Disability Support Pension
  • ABSTUDY Living Allowance, Austudy, or Youth Allowance
  • Widow Allowance
  • Partner Allowance or Special Benefit
  • Family Tax Benefit Part A
  • Parenting Payment, partnered or single
  • JobSeeker Payment or Farm Household Allowance

Those who live in a community housing may also be able to get rent assistance. This coverage is for those who have lease agreements with community housing organisations providing services such as:

  • Accommodation for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders
  • Disability accommodation
  • A refuge or rehabilitation centre
  • Student accommodation
  • Special needs housing 

Rent assistance is also available to Defence Housing Australia tenants, which is worked out based on the rent paid. The assistance to tenants receiving Temporary Rental Allowance is calculated by subtracting it from the rent they pay. 

Special rent assistance rules apply to people living in a retirement village. The fees they pay to live in the village will be used to determine if they’re a homeowner or a non-homeowner. Those determined as non-homeowners are eligible for rent assistance.

If you are eligible, Centrelink will pay back the rent assistance but the time it takes will depend on your personal circumstances.

How to apply for rent assistance

If you’re receiving any of the social welfare payments listed earlier, you don’t need to submit a rent assistance form for a claim. Services Australia automatically assesses your rent assistance eligibility as well once you claim one of the social welfare payments.

You may only need a rent assistance calculator for budgeting purposes to anticipate how much you will get.

If you’re already receiving rent assistance and need to change personal details like your address, do so by signing into myGov for access to Centrelink. You can also update your details via the Express Plus Centrelink mobile app. Calling Services Australia or visiting a service centre are also your options. 

rent assistance

Rent assistance calculator adjustment

The amount of rent assistance you get can be adjusted based on changes to your living circumstances. Also as mentioned earlier, rent assistance payment rates are inflation-adjusted every 20 March and 20 September each year based on the consumer price index on those days.

Some of the circumstances that may change the amount of rent assistance payments you’re getting include:

  • Your rent increases or decreases
  • You relocate or change your address
  • Your income increases or decreases
  • Your family circumstances changed

Updating your details with Services Australia may therefore affect the amount of rent assistance payment you’re receiving. Depending on what details you changed, the agency may require you to complete a rent certificate or submit a copy of your residential tenancy agreement.

After submitting these, Services Australia will inform you through an email, a message to your myGov Inbox, or a letter in the regular mail if you’ll be receiving a Rental Assistance payment.

One other thing to note is that when you move homes, sometimes your rent amount changes. Check out Soho’s guide on how to change your rent amount on Centrelink for more details.

Centrelink’s role in the housing crisis

Centrelink has been at the forefront in helping individuals and families navigate the housing market. This includes guidance on rent to buy Centrelink programs, which serve as alternatives to traditional home buying.

Moreover, with the surge in housing demands, many wonder, what is the QLD government doing about the housing crisis?

Both the QLD government and Centrelink are rolling out initiatives and schemes such as the affordable housing rental scheme, to address these concerns.

More on rent assistance

The constant queries on Centrelink’s platform, from is rent assistance going up to specifics about the Centrelink single parent payment calculator, are a testament to how vital rent assistance is to many Australians.

Let’s delve deeper into some frequently asked questions on rent assistance.

How can I speed up a payment from Centrelink?

To speed up a claim from Centrelink, Complete your claim as soon as possible. The sooner you submit your claim, the sooner Centrelink can start processing it.

You can get a rental property on Centrelink the same way as all renters, with an emphasis on a solid rental history and personal references.

Can pensioners on Centrelink can a home loan?

Yes, pensioners on Centrelink can get a home loan, but it may be more difficult than if they had a regular income. Pensioners will need to meet the same eligibility criteria as anyone else applying for a home loan, but they may also need to provide additional documentation, such as proof of their pension income.

FAQs on rent assistance

I heard about the $500 rent assistance. What is it?

The $500 rent assistance in Australia is a one-off payment that was announced in the 2023-2024 federal budget. It is intended to help low-income renters who are struggling to afford their rent due to the rising cost of living.

The payment will be made to eligible recipients in two installments of $250 each, in July and August 2023. To be eligible, you must:

  • Be an Australian resident
  • Be receiving an eligible income support payment, such as Jobseeker Allowance, Youth Allowance, or Parenting Payment
  • Be paying rent in the private market

The payment is not taxable and will not affect your eligibility for other government benefits.

In addition to the $500 rent assistance, the federal budget also announced an increase in the rate of Rent Assistance. From 20 September 2023, the maximum fortnightly rate of Rent Assistance increased by $31 for singles and $40 for couples.

These measures are part of the government’s efforts to help low-income Australians cope with the rising cost of living.

Here are some additional things to keep in mind about the $500 rent assistance:

  • The payment will be made automatically to eligible recipients. You do not need to apply for it.
  • The payment will be made into your bank account.
  • If you are not eligible for the full $500 payment, you may still be eligible for a partial payment.
  • The payment is not taxable.
  • The payment will not affect your eligibility for other government benefits.

If you have any questions about the $500 rent assistance, you can contact Services Australia on 132 468.

How do I update my rent amount with Centrelink?

To update rent amount Centrelink, simply sign into your myGov account. Alternatively, you can use the Express Plus Centrelink mobile app or visit a Centrelink service centre in person.

Are there specific tools like a youth allowance payment calculator or Centrelink family tax benefit calculator?

Yes, Centrelink provides various tools, including a payment calculator Centrelink that covers different payments like youth allowance and family tax benefits.

How can I apply for rent assistance with Centrelink?

To apply for rent assistance Centrelink, if you’re already receiving a social welfare payment, you’re automatically assessed. If eligible, Centrelink will initiate the payments based on your rental details.

What is Centrelink doing for pensioners struggling with rent?

Many pensioners often ask, how do pensioners afford rent? Apart from regular rent assistance, Centrelink has pension rental assistance specifically tailored for pensioners.

I’m a first-time renter. Is there any specific assistance for me?

Yes, initiatives such as first time renters assistance exist to support new renters.

Looking for your dream home? 

We can also help you out in that department. Browse our search page to check out some amazing listings available right now. But don’t just stop there, download our app to get the full Soho experience. Just remember to shortlist or swipe left on our listings so we can send you others that better match what you’re looking for.

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