Centrelink that is run by the Australian Department of Social Services offers financial help to those who cannot pay their rent.
Eligibility For Rent Assistance:
Eligibility for rent assistance from the Australian government might be automatically be in place if you are under age 21 and receive disability support, have dependent children and are receiving the Family Tax Benefit, are caring for a child between 14 and 35 percent of the time but are not eligible for other types of benefits like the Family Tax benefit.
If you don’t have children you are eligible for the benefit if you are over 25, have partner or if you are under 25 and living apart from your parents.
There are also quite a few regulations about where you can live. You must first of all meet the residence requirements of your pension, allowance or benefit. Rent assistance is usually not payable if you have a lease width a state or territory housing authority, own the home where you reside (unless it is a mobile home), are a homeowner subletting in a temporary residence, are in a government subsided bed in an approved old age facility, have a partner who is receiving the Family Tax benefit or live with a partner already receiving rent assistance along with government financial support or a pension.
To be eligible for rent assistance you also must not be paying the minimum amount of rent shown in payment tables for such extras as series and maintenance fees in a retirement village or condo, lodging if you are paying for board and lodging, a trailer site or a mooring for a boat (even if you live in the trailer or the boat.
You can find a chart that consists of the payment rates for Rent Assistance at http://www.humanservices.gov.au/customer/enablers/centrelink/rent-assistance/payment-rates. On this page you will find rent assistance rates that apply if you do not have dependent children and rates that apply if you do. The most available is $433 paid out to a couple renting with three or more children. The lowest rate for a single person in an apartment with no children is $220.22.
Of course these rates can always be adjusted if the amount that you pay for your lodging changes or if you or a family member has an increase in income. A divorce, loss of a roommate, gaining of a roommate and moving to a new house can also affect the rate of your rent assistance. Rent assistance is usually adjusted twice a year on March 20 and September 20.
How to Claim Rent Assistance
Rent assistance does not require a separate claim. It is usually offered as part of a claim of another payment. You need to provide proof that you do pay rent and you need to complete a Rent Certificate. You can obtain a form for this at http://www.humanservices.gov.au/customer/subjects/self-service.
If you have a formal tenancy agreement you can show it to Centrelink as proof or you can have your landlord write you a letter. Everything in a written letter must be able to be verified with a phone call or bank statements.
You are sent a letter to tell you whether or no the claim you submitted has been successful. At this point you will also be informed when your payments will begin and what amount you have been awarded.
Other Matters Relevant to Rent Assistance
If your circumstances change then you need to inform rent assistance. You need to inform Centrelink if the amount of rent you pay changes, if you move, if your income is higher, your marital status changes or if you gain or lose a roommate.
You need to inform the government about any changes promptly because if you are overpaid the Australian government does require people to pay the money back. If you deliberately don’t tell us about payments then you could be charged with fraud. You also might be charged an income recovery fee if incorrect information has been provided about your employment income.
You also may not be able to accept payments if you leave Australia. It depends if you still meet the qualifying rules for that payment. For more information about continuing to collect benefits even though you are out of the country go to http://www.humanservices.gov.au/customer/enablers/outside-australia.