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Property Owners and Rent Assistance Eligibility
Last amended: 30 August 2011
Ineligible property owner
[glossary:I:] — [glossary:neligible property owners:] are not eligible for rent assistance, except in the following specified circumstances.
Property owners with rent assistance eligibility
- have sold their principal home but are still considered a property owner under paragraph 5L(4) (c) of the VEA for up to 24 months, because they intend to use the proceeds to buy or build another home,
- are absent from their principal home, for up to 24 months, while it is uninhabitable due to loss or damage and they intend to either repair the home or acquire a new home. Where the person's principal home is uninhabitable, the person does not have reasonable security of tenure based on occupancy, and so they are not regarded as a property owner for rent assistance purposes,
- are absent from their principal home, while in a care situation,
- are absent from their principal home, while personally providing community-based care,
- pay amounts for the use of a site for a caravan, vehicle or structure, that is their principal home,
- pay amounts for the right to moor a vessel, that is their principal home.
Example of an ineligible property owner
A pensioner owns a half share in a unit as a tenant in common with his two sons. Under an informal arrangement he also pays 'rent' to his two sons to compensate them for their investment in the unit. The pensioner is classified as a property owner under the subsection 5L(4) VEA and as a result he is an ineligible property owner under subsection 5N(1) VEA for the purposes of the rent definition. The pensioner fails to satisfy any of the exemptions from being considered an ineligible property owner. Thus this pensioner is not eligible for rent assistance.
Example of a property owner eligible for rent assistance
A pensioner has sold her principal home and intends to use the proceeds to acquire a new home. She invests the sale proceeds and lives in rental accommodation while she searches for a suitable property to buy. For up to 12 months from the home sale, she remains classified as a property owner under paragraph 5L(4) (c) of the VEA. This also exempts her from being considered an ineligible property owner under paragraph 5N(1) (a) of the VEA and therefore makes her eligible for rent assistance. If there are delays beyond her control in acquiring a new home, this arrangement may be extended for up to an additional 12 months.
Rent Assistance is an allowance, which may be paid to a service pensioner or income support supplement (ISS) recipient to assist in meeting the cost of rental accommodation.
To receive rent assistance, a pensioner must be paying rent (other than Government rent) for accommodation in Australia, and the amount paid must exceed a certain threshold.
Property owner is defined in subsection 5L(4) of the VEA.
The principal home has the meaning given by subsection 5LA(1) of the VEA and subsection 5LA(2) of the VEA. The principal home of a person is generally the place in which they reside. In certain circumstances, however, the principal home of a person can be the place in which they formerly resided. The following property is regarded as part of the principal home.
- the residence itself (e.g. house, flat, caravan),
- permanent fixtures (e.g. stoves, built-in heaters, dish-washers, light fittings and affixed carpets),
- [glossary:curtilage:DEF/Curtilage] (i.e. two hectares or less of private land around the home where the private land use test has been satisfied, or all land held on the same title as the person's principal home where the extended land use test has been satisfied), or
- any garage, shed, tennis court or swimming pool used primarily for private purposes provided it is on the same title as the principal home.