Financial help for private renters
If you can’t pay your rent this month, or if you’re already in arrears, there is help available, but you need to act fast.
Australia is in the midst of a housing crisis, with the cost and availability of property pushing millions of renters to their limits. If you’re struggling to afford the roof over your head, holding on to your home is your number one priority, but you might need help to make that happen.
At Way Forward, our Financial Hardship Advocates are experts in helping people in debt find their feet financially. We’ll either work with you and your creditors directly or introduce you to the best people or organisations for your circumstances.
Whether you’ve lost your job or been unable to work, been hit with a rent increase or unexpected medical bills, you are one of many people facing this very situation. Importantly, the professionals who work in this field understand just how easy it is for things to go wrong, and how hard it can be to dig your way out. Don’t be afraid to reach out for help.
Advice for tenants in hardship
It’s important to make decisions based on your individual circumstances. If you’re in financial hardship but still have an income, contact our Financial Hardship Advocates to start the conversation. If your main source of income is Centrelink, a Financial Counsellor might be best placed to help.
At this point, preventing eviction is your priority. Speak to your landlord or letting agent about your financial challenges and see if you can reach agreement on a payment arrangement; discuss how you plan to pay any arrears and be honest about what you can actually afford right now.
If that doesn’t work, you’ll need to connect with your nearest Tenancy Advice and Advocacy Service. These organisations provide free, independent information, advice, and support to help you navigate tenancy issues, including payments or concessions you may be able to access to stabilise your lease. Links to the relevant organisation for each state are listed below.
Centrelink Rent Assistance
If you’re already receiving a relevant Centrelink benefit, or you submit a claim for one of the eligible payments, Services Australia will automatically assess if you’re eligible for Rent Assistance.
To be considered eligible, you must rent your home and be liable for costs above a specified rent threshold, as well as being in receipt of a social security or veterans’ income support payment and/or Family Tax Benefit Part A at greater than the base rate.
If you’re having problems paying your rent this month, or have fallen into arrears, you can also apply for an advance payment of your benefits. This means, if approved, you’ll get part of your allowance paid early; but be aware that you’ll have to pay it all back through a reduction in your future payments.
Services Australia’s online Payment and Service Finder tool can help you work out the assistance you could be eligible to receive.
Emergency financial assistance for renters
For a grant to help you through short-term hardship, each state and territory has its own administering body for delivering rental assistance. Criteria typically includes residence status and an income/asset threshold. Find your region below, for more information.
Not-for-profit organisations Australia-wide, who support individuals and families in rental stress, are also an incredible resource. Connect with charities such as Anglicare , Vinnies , the Salvation Army and Wesley Mission to discover how they can help you through this challenging time.
Finally, check the Department of Social Services’ Grants Service Directory for information on what else might be available in your area. Choose ‘Financial Crisis and Material Aid – Emergency Relief’ from the Service Type filter.
Financial assistance for renters in New South Wales
If you have had a ‘major financial setback’ you may be able to access the Rent Choice subsidy for a period of up to three years. The NSW criteria includes illness or job loss, relocating due to domestic and family violence, being a war veteran, or if you’re aged 16 – 24. You must be able to demonstrate that you are otherwise capable of sustaining your tenancy. Talk to the Housing Contact Centre on 1800 422 322 to find out more.
The Department of Communities and Justice also offers Tenancy Assistance for clients in a private rental property who are in rent and/or water arrears. Tenancy Assistance is not provided as a loan and is therefore not required to be repaid. For more information, connect with Housing Pathways.
You may also wish to seek advice from the Tenants Union of NSW.
Financial assistance for renters in Victoria
Launch Housing is a Melbourne-based community organisation which offers a Private Rental Assistance Program (PRAP) for people living in the:
- Cities of Greater Dandenong, Casey and Cardinia Shire
- Cities of Port Philip, Stonnington, Glen Eira, Bayside, Kingston, Frankston and the Mornington Peninsula
- City of Melbourne (CBD, Southbank and East Melbourne only), Yarra, Darebin, Banyule, Nillumbik and Whittlesea
The organisation provides people at risk of homelessness with the help they need to maintain private rental tenancies, including help with rent arrears.
If you’re a Victorian on a low income, struggling to pay rates, water, gas or electricity bills, because of unexpected hardship, you may also be eligible for a range of concessions. In most instances, you will need to personally hold either a Centrelink Health Care Card or Pensioner Concession Card, or a Veterans’ Affairs Pensioner Concession Card or Gold Card to be eligible.
Visit the DFFH Services website and use its concessions search tool to discover what you can apply for.
You may also wish to contact Tenants’ Victoria to explore any other avenues available to you.
Financial assistance for renters in Queensland
A Rental Security Subsidy is available to tenants in Queensland’s private rental market if short-term financial issues mean you’re struggling to keep your home. If approved, a portion of your rent will be paid directly to your landlord or property manager for a maximum of 12 months.
The level of rent subsidy is determined by factors including your total household income. Contact your local Housing Service Centre to find out more.
You may also wish to discuss your circumstances with the team at Tenants Queensland
If you’re in housing crisis, and meet stringent eligibility requirements, you may be able to access a Rental Grant. This is a one-off payment equivalent to 2 weeks’ rent, designed to support people as they move into private rental accommodation.
If you’re having issues paying electricity or natural gas bills, because of a recent and short-term financial crisis, you may be eligible for the Home Energy Emergency Assistance Scheme. This one-off emergency payment is available once every two years, for up to $720.
Financial assistance for renters in South Australia
South Australia’s Private Rental Assistance Program provides financial assistance if you’re in a private tenancy but struggling to keep a roof over your head. If you’ve fallen behind on your rent and are at risk of being evicted, but would usually be able to meet your obligations, you could receive up to 4 weeks’ rent assistance in a 2-year period.
Check your eligibility online or call 131 299 for a Housing Advice appointment.
You can also contact RentRight SA for a range of advice specific to renters.
Financial assistance for renters in the ACT
The ACT’s Rent Relief Fund currently delivers financial assistance to households in the private rental sector who are under rental stress or suffering severe financial hardship. Offering a one-off payment of 4 weeks’ rent, up to a maximum of $2,500, the scheme is designed to relieve financial pressure for low-income earners and support them to hold on to their tenancies.
Eligibility requirements include rental payments of more than 30% of household income and household liquid assets of $5,000 or less (excluding superannuation). To find out more and apply, contact the organisation responsible for administering the scheme, Care.
You may also wish to connect with the Tenancy Advice Service to explore further options.
Financial assistance for renters in Tasmania
If you’re having trouble keeping your home, because of issues paying rent, Tasmania’s Housing Connect service may be able to help. You’ll have to be able to demonstrate that you are a low-income earner (eligible to keep a Low Income Health Care Card) and don’t have any other assets that could be used to meet your housing needs – including income earned by any other member of your household.
Housing Connect can only give financial assistance once every 12 months.
Guidance and support is also available from the Tenants’ Union of Tasmania.
Financial assistance for renters in Western Australia
If you are of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Island heritage, a Private Rental Aboriginal Assistance Loan (PRAAL) could help you retain your tenancy. This interest-free loan will cover up to a maximum of six weeks’ rent arrears, paid directly to the landlord – who must provide confirmation that the eviction will not proceed.
If you’re a pensioner or senior, you may be eligible for a rebate or deferment of charges for local government rates, the emergency services levy, underground electricity (if applicable) and water service. Check out the Pensioners and Seniors Rebate Scheme for more information.
If you hold an appropriate concession card – ie Pensioner Concession Card, Health Care Card, Commonwealth Seniors Health Card, Department of Veterans’ Affairs Gold Card (TPI, War Widow and Dependent Child) – you may be eligible for an energy assistance payment to help with electricity costs. Check your eligibility and apply online.
Tenancy WA is another important resource, when it comes to the information and resources you need to tackle your rental challenges.
Financial assistance for renters in Northern Territories
Under the Rent Choice Private Rental Subsidy Scheme , eligible key workers in Greater Darwin, Palmerston, Katherine, Tennant Creek and Alice Springs can access subsidies of between 20% and 40% of their rent.
Eligible occupations include workers in the health and human services, hospitality, transport and logistics, construction, and automotive industries.
You may also wish to seek advice from the Tenants’ Advice Service, Darwin Community Legal Service.
Get help with rent now to prevent eviction
Around 640,000 Australian households are currently in housing stress, according to the UNSW’s City Futures Research Centre, with that number expected to hit 940,000 by 2041.
These are devastating figures, and the reality of this crisis is being felt by people and families across Australia, spending more than 30% of their income on rent each month. If you’re one of them, don’t wait to seek help.
Contact Way Forward’s Financial Hardship Advocates today, to find out how we can get you the support you need to protect your home.