Published: September 2021

Rent relief grants

Grants of up to $1,500 are available to help you pay your rent if you have been financially impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic since 27 May 2021. You need to meet certain eligibility criteria, including having a rent reduction agreement with your rental provider (landlord).

New rent relief grant

The Victorian Government’s rent relief grant provides up to $1,500 to eligible renters who are experiencing rental hardship due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

This is a new rent relief grant for renters who have been financially impacted due to the COVID-19 pandemic since 27 May 2021. The grant is paid directly to the rental provider (landlord).

The previous rent relief grant closed on 28 March 2021. You can apply for the new grant, even if you got a payment from the last grant scheme. However, you will need to go through the application process again and will need to have your eligibility assessed. The eligibility criteria are different this time.

Check you are eligible

Anyone can be eligible for the rent relief grant, if they meet certain criteria, even if they are not Australian citizens or permanent residents.

People eligible to apply for the grants include casual workers on holiday and working visas, international students, skilled visa holders, seasonal workers, New Zealand citizens and all people holding refugee and temporary protection visas.

To be eligible for a rent relief grant all these criteria must apply to you:

  • Have lost income as a result of the pandemic, on or after 27 May 2021
  • Have less than $2,000 in savings, excluding superannuation
  • Have an annual income limit of $62,860 for singles, and $94,300 for couples
  • Have, or will shortly have, a bond registered with the Victorian Residential Tenancies Bond Authority, or proof of a private rental accommodation agreement (lease)
  • Provide proof of a rent reduction agreement negotiated with your agent or rental provider for a period after 27 May 2021
  • After the rent reduction agreement be paying more than 30% of your income in rent

Negotiating a rent reduction agreement

You will need to contact the rental provider (landlord) or agent to try to reach an agreement to reduce your rent. You need this agreement before you can apply for the rent relief grant.

Rent reduction letters

If you need help to write to the rental provider or agent, use one of our example letters.

Rent reduction agreement

If you need help starting your rent reduction agreement, just fill in the details in the below example agreement so it’s ready for the rental provider, or agent, to sign. Make sure you keep a copy for yourself before you send it to the rental provider or agent.

Use our example agreement.

Example rent reduction agreement

Rent deferrals

You will not be eligible for a grant if you only have an agreement to defer rent payments, rather than reducing the rent.

Dear Landlord – self-help online

Justice Connect’s ‘Dear Landlord’ is a free online self-help tool. It does not specifically deal with negotiating a rent reduction, but it can help if you are behind in rent or worried you might fall behind in rent. Dear Landlord guides you through your options and helps you take action.

Use the Dear landlord self-help tool

Applying for the grant

It you meet all the eligibility criteria, you can apply for a rent relief grant on the Victorian Government’s HousingVic website. We recommend that if you are not sure whether you are eligible, go ahead and apply for the grant.

Rent relief grants: information and applications

If you are assessed as eligible, the grant will be paid directly to the rental provider.

How much is paid

The maximum grant is $1,500, but not everyone will receive the full amount. The grant is designed to reduce your rent to 30% of your income where possible. The most that will be paid, within the $1500 limit, is up to the point where you are paying no more than 30% of your income on rent.

Example 1 – less than maximum grant is paid

Sally had a weekly income of $1000, which was reduced to $750 because of COVID-19. Her rent was $320 a week, but the rental provider agreed to reduce it to $270.

The government expects Sally to pay up to 30% of her income towards rent: 30% of the $750 she earns each week is $225.

However, her rent is $45 more than that – $270 a week. She is therefore eligible for a grant of $45 × 19.5 weeks (the current length of the grant period), which equals $877.50. This amount will reduce her rent to 30% of her income, so she is not eligible for the maximum $1500 grant. The $877.50 will be paid to the rental provider.

Keep in mind that you do not need to do these calculations yourself before you apply. The Department of Families, Fairness and Housing, which is operating the rent relief grants, will do the arithmetic if you are eligible.

Example 2 – maximum grant is paid

Like Sally, Alex had his income reduced from $1,000 a week to $750 due to COVID-19. His rent was $380 a week, and the rental provider agreed to reduce it to $305.

Again, the government expects Alex to pay up to 30% of his income towards rent: 30% of the $750 he is earning per week is $225.

However, his rent is $305, $80 more; $80 × 19.5 weeks (current length of the grant period), which equals $1,560. Alex is therefore eligible for the maximum grant of $1,500, which will be paid directly to the rental provider. He will need to pay the remainder himself.

Share houses and couples

Singles in share houses

Each single person in a share house can receive one grant that represents their portion of the rent up to $1,500. You may be eligible for a grant even if your housemates are not experiencing financial hardship. Check the eligibility criteria above to make sure all of them apply to you.

Couples

Couples, in their own place or in share houses, can receive one grant of up to $1,500, not one grant each. Check the eligibility criteria above to make sure all of them apply to you. You can still apply for a grant even if the income of only one of you has declined due to COVID-19. This is also the case if only one of you has their name on the lease or the reduced rent agreement.

If you move out before receiving a grant

If you move out before you receive a grant you need to tell the Department of Families, Fairness and Housing, which is operating the grant. Email the department at RentRelief@dffh.vic.gov.au.

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