Rent Relief Fund

The ACT Government has established a Rent Relief Fund of $133,000  to support eligible tenants or occupants who are having difficulties paying their rent or occupancy fees.  

The Rent Relief Fund will provide one-off grants of up to $1,000 to eligible ACT tenants or occupants in private or community housing tenancies or occupancies who are experiencing rental stress or severe financial hardship.  

With the wide-ranging impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, many in our community are currently experiencing significant financial hardship, the Fund is designed to assist eligible households to maintain safe, secure, and stable accommodation through this difficult period.

The grant will be paid directly to the lessor or grantor as a contribution to the tenants’ or occupants’ rent or occupancy fees.

Media release -  New Rent Relief Fund to support tenants as evictions moratorium ends - 25 November 2021

Frequently asked questions

Am I eligible for the Rent Relief Fund?

To be eligible for a grant from the Rent Relief Fund, you must meet the following criteria:

  • be either a tenant in a residential tenancy agreement or an occupant in an occupancy agreement for a private or community housing tenancy or occupancy in the ACT; 
  • be experiencing rental stress (defined below) or severe financial hardship (defined below) i.e. placing your tenancy / occupancy at risk; and
  • have a gross household income within the following income limits:
    • First adult$52,796
    • First sole parent$55,530
    • Each additional adult$20,198
    • Each child$17,514
How much can I receive?

If you are applying as a household and meet the eligibility criteria, you can receive a grant of up to $1,000 (this includes single person households).  

If you applying as an individual in a share house and meet the eligibility criteria, you can receive a grant of up to $500. If you’re housemates are also eligible, they can also receive a grant of up to $500 each.

How do I apply?

The Rent Relief Fund is administered by Care Financial Counselling Service (Care) on behalf of the ACT Government. 

The online application form can be emailed or posted if required.    .

To apply for a grant, contact Care:

0466  814 390 or 625 71788 or  

microfinance.admin@carefcs.org  

https://www.carefcs.org/

What is rental stress?

A household will be experiencing rental stress where the household: 

  • pays more than 30 per cent of their income in rent; AND
  • has less than $5,000 in liquid assets (cash savings)
    • This does not include your superannuation.
What is severe financial hardship?

A household will be experiencing severe financial hardship where the household is: 

  • paying less than 30 per cent of household income in rent but can otherwise demonstrate that they are experiencing severe financial hardship; AND 
  • has less than $3,000 in liquid assets (cash savings)
    • This does not include your superannuation.
I am in a share house; can I still apply based on my personal circumstances?

Yes. Individuals in share houses can apply and are eligible to receive the 50 per cent of the maximum grant available (i.e. $500). To be eligible, you will need to demonstrate an income of less than $52,796 and demonstrate that you are experiencing rental stress or severe financial hardship that is placing your tenancy or occupancy at risk.  

To demonstrate rental stress, you will need to demonstrate that you spend more than 30 per cent of your income on your share of the household rent and show you have less than $5,000 in liquid assets (cash savings). 

If you pay less than 30 per cent of your income on your share of the household rent, you may still be eligible for relief on the grounds of severe financial hardship.  However, you will need to be able to demonstrate that hardship and have less than $3,000 in liquid assets (cash savings).

Can more than one person in a share house apply?

Yes, more than one member of a share house can apply for a grant and there is no cap on the number of grants that may be made to each share house household providing the individual co-tenant / occupant applying for the grant meets the eligibility criteria.

Do I need to provide information about my housemate’s financial information in order to apply?

No. You can apply based on your individual income and assets. An assessment as to whether you are in rental stress will be based on your individual income and the percentage of your income you pay on your share of the rent or occupancy fee (as opposed to the rent or occupancy fee for the rental premises as a whole).

Do I need to provide evidence to demonstrate I meet the eligibility criteria?

Yes, you will need to provide evidence to demonstrate you meet the eligibility criteria. The types of evidence you may be able to provide are provided below.

How can I demonstrate I am a tenant or an occupant in the ACT?

You can demonstrate you are a tenant or occupant in the ACT in the following ways:

  • By providing a copy of a signed residential tenancy or occupancy agreement together with identification that you are one of the named tenants or occupants on the agreement (such as a driver’s licence / proof of age card / passport/ concession card or ACT Access Card).
  • If you do not have or are unable to obtain a copy of your agreement, you may be able provide evidence that demonstrates you meet the criteria in other ways including:
    • text messages, emails or letters between you and your landlord / grantor in relation to the premises you are renting,
    • evidence of ongoing rental payments (i.e. a bank statement showing an automatic debit or receipts for rental payments),
    • a bond lodgement receipt with your name listed, 
    • utility bills in your name in relation to the premises,
    • other evidence that your live at the premises such as a concession card listing the property as your residential address (combined with evidence you are contributing to the rent / occupancy fees such as bank transfers or receipts).
How can I demonstrate I am in a private or community housing tenancy or occupancy?

You will need to provide some evidence of who your landlord or grantor is in order to demonstrate you are in a private or community housing tenancy or occupancy in the ACT. 

This may include the same or similar evidence to that which you use to demonstrate you are in a tenancy or occupancy in the ACT (including, for example, a tenancy or occupancy agreement or correspondence between the parties to the agreement). You do not need to provide ID documentation from your landlord or grantor as their name on a tenancy or occupancy agreement (or similar evidence) will be sufficient.

I am a tenant in public housing. Am I eligible for the grant?

No. The grant is only available to tenants or occupants in private or community housing accommodation. 

If you are a tenant in a public housing tenancy and are having difficulties paying your rent, you should contact 1800 950 255 or housingtenancy@act.gov.au to discuss your situation with your Housing Manager.

How can I demonstrate I am experiencing rental stress or severe financial hardship?

You may be able to demonstrate that you are experiencing rental stress or severe financial hardship in the following ways: 

  • Providing evidence of the weekly rent or occupancy fees. 
  • Providing evidence of income such as:
    • Pay slips 
    • Centrelink statements
    • Business Activity Statements
    • Evidence of income from any other sources (dividends, interest, superannuation payments, rental income etc).
  • Providing a 30-day transaction history of all bank accounts to demonstrate you meet the cash savings test (having less than $5,000 if in rental stress or less than $3,000 if in severe financial hardship).
  • Providing estimates or evidence of living expenses contributing to the severe financial hardship such as the cost of groceries, medical expenses, childcare or school expenses, utility bills, vehicle registration or repair bills, insurance premiums, debt repayments etc. 
    • This evidence is only required to show you are in severe financial hardship. You do not need to provide this additional information if you can demonstrate you are in rental stress.

Where you are applying as a household, the application will need to include evidence of income and assets for all members of the household.  

Where you are applying as an individual in a share house you will only need to provide evidence of your own income, assets and rental payments. You are not required to provide financial information from your housemates. 

Where your landlord or grantor has agreed to a temporary rent or occupancy fee reduction, the temporary reduction will be considered when assessing rental stress. Where your landlord or grantor has agreed to a rent or occupancy fee deferral, your application will be assessed based on the full / regular amount of rent, in acknowledgement that deferred rent will still be a debt owing to your landlord or grantor at a later date.

How can I demonstrate I am at risk of homelessness?

You may be able to demonstrate your tenancy/occupancy is at risk or that you are at risk of homelessness in the following ways: 

  • Providing evidence of being in rent or occupancy fee arrears, including for example:
    • a notice to remedy or notice to vacate for rent or occupancy fee arrears.
    • other communication (such as an email, text message or letter) from your landlord or grantor indicating you are in arrears.
    • a rent or occupancy fee ledger/ statement.
  • Providing evidence of an inability to meet existing financial commitments such as evidence of significant expenses or a budget showing income and expenses (e.g. groceries, utility bills, medical expenses, insurance premiums, vehicle registration and debt repayments). 
  • Providing evidence that you have been unable to negotiate a payment plan with your landlord or grantor or that you would be unlikely to be able to comply with a reasonable repayment plan.
I am currently protected by the eviction moratorium. Will I be considered to be at risk of homelessness?

This will depend on your individual circumstances. The Residential Tenancies (COVID-19 Emergency Response) Declaration 2021 (No 3)  creates an eviction moratorium which prevents tenants in COVID-19 impacted households from being evicted due to rent arrears during the moratorium period. 

It also creates a post moratorium transitional period where tenants who accrued a rental debt during the moratorium period will not be able to be evicted on that basis, so long as they pay their rent as it falls due during the transitional period. 

If you are a tenant in an impacted household and are covered by the eviction moratorium and transition period, you may be less likely to be able to establish that you are at risk of homelessness.  

However, there may be exceptional circumstances where you may still be able to demonstrate that your tenancy is at risk making you eligible for a grant. For example, if you have significant arrears which you would be unlikely to be able to address through a reasonable repayment plan you may be able to demonstrate a significant risk of eviction at the end of the moratorium period. 

Similarly, if you can demonstrate you have experienced a drop in income and that it is unlikely that your income will return to previous levels soon, this may be taken into account when considering the sustainability of your tenancy beyond the end of the moratorium period.

How can I demonstrate gross household income?

You may be able to demonstrate your gross household income in the following ways:

  • Providing payslips from your employer 
  • Providing evidence of Centrelink payments, including (but not limited to):
    • COIVD-19 Disaster Payment 
    • Rent Assistance
  • Providing Business Activity Statements
  • Providing evidence of income from other sources (dividends, interest, superannuation payments etc)
  • Providing a signed statement about their level of income (in circumstances where other evidence is not available).

Unless you live alone, your application should also provide information about your household composition (i.e. number of adults and children in the household). This is because the eligible income limit will vary depending on the number of people in the household.

If you receive Commonwealth Rent Assistance (CRA) or the COVID-19 Disaster payment, these payments (in addition to any other sources of income) will be considered income for the purpose of assessing eligibility. Make sure you include this information in your application.

If your income has not been stable over the course of the financial year, your income may be assessed based on income at the time of application. However, if you experienced a drop in income during the lockdown period but have subsequently returned to work the temporary drop in income may also be considered when assessing your annual income. If this is the case, you may need to provide evidence of income over a longer period of time to show how it has changed overtime.

How can I demonstrate I meet the cash savings limit?

You can demonstrate you meet the cash savings limit by providing a 30-day transaction history of all your bank accounts.

What information do I need to provide if I am in a share house?

If you are in a share house, you will need to provide evidence of your individual income and assets as well as evidence of the amount of rent or occupancy fees you pay. 

Eligibility will be based on your individual circumstances and not that of the entire household. You do not need to provide evidence of your housemate’s income and assets.

What other information is required?

You will also need to provide the bank details (or other rent / occupancy fee payment information) for your landlord or grantor as the payment will be made directly to the landlord or grantor as a credit to the applicants’ rent or occupancy fee payments.

What can I do if I think I’m eligible, but I am having difficulty providing evidence?

If you think you are eligible, but you have difficulty providing all of the evidence required you should talk to Care Financial Counselling Service (Care) who are administering the Rent Relief Fund on behalf of the ACT Government.

Contact Care:

0466  814 390 or 625 71788 or  

microfinance.admin@carefcs.org  

https://www.carefcs.org/

My landlord has given me a rent reduction and is receiving the land tax credit from the ACT Government, can I still apply?

Yes. The Rent Relief Fund works alongside the current land tax credit scheme for landlords who provide rent reductions to tenants. If you meet the eligibility criteria, you can still apply for the Rent Relief Fund even if your landlord is eligible for the land tax credit.

For more information about the land tax rebate scheme visit here: https://www.revenue.act.gov.au/covid-19-assistance

What is the applicable income limit?

The gross household income limits are:

  • First adult$52,796
  • First sole parent$55,530
  • Each additional adult$20,198
  • Each child$17,514

Some examples of applicable household limits are provided below.

Household size Single Couple
  $52,796 $72,994

 

Household size Single Parent Couple with Child(ren)
1 Child $73,044 $90,508
2 Child $90,558 $108,022
3 Child $108,072 $125,536
Can I appeal the decision if my application is refused?

Care is responsible for the administration of the fund and will make decisions in relation to eligibility.

 If you have concerns about the response to your application, you should discuss your application with Care who may be able to help you understand the reasons for refusing your application. 

There is no external appeals process in relation to this grant program.