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If you are experiencing rental hardship due to COVID-19, you may be eligible for assistance.
What's on this page

The Victorian Government has established a rental assistance fund to provide Rent Relief Grants of up to $1,500 to Victorians experiencing rental hardship as a result of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

The one-off grant is specifically for renters living in their primary residence to help them maintain safe, secure and stable accommodation. It is paid directly to the renter’s agent, lessor or landlord to contribute to their rental payments, under their new rental agreement.

To be eligible for the grant you will need to: 

  • 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 a single income of less than $1,208.85 per week, or $1,813.46 as a couple, aligning to an annual income limit of $62,860 for singles, and $94,300 for couples;
  • Provide proof of a rent reduction agreement for a period after 27 May 2021; and
  • Be paying more than 30% of your income in rent.
  • If you meet the eligibility criteria above, you can apply for a rent relief grant online

Questions and answers

What is the rent relief grant?

The Victorian Government has established a rental assistance fund to provide rent relief grants of up to $1,500 to Victorians experiencing rental hardship as a result of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

The one-off grant is specifically for renters living in their primary residence to help them maintain safe, secure and stable accommodation. 

It is paid directly to the renter’s agent, lessor or landlord to contribute to their rental payments under their new agreement for reduced rent. To be eligible for the grant, you will need to provide proof of a rent reduction negotiated with your agent, lessor or landlord for a period after 27 May 2021.

Is this the same as the COVID-19 rent relief grants which operated until 28 March 2021?

The COVID-19 rent relief grants program announced in April 2020 was a grant payment up to $3,000 available to people who had lost income as a result of the pandemic, and experienced rental hardship. This program closed on 28 March 2021. 

The current Rent Relief Grant program provides up to $1,500 for renters who have been financially impacted as a result of the pandemic on or after 27 May 2021 and are experiencing rental hardship. The program and updated eligibility criteria will ensure the grants are available sooner to Victorians who need rental support.

Who is eligible for the grant?

The grant will assist renters in Victoria experiencing financial hardship as a result of the pandemic and who have, or will shortly have, a bond registered with the Victorian Residential Tenancies Bond Authority, or proof of a private rental accommodation agreement.

To be eligible for the grant you will need to provide proof of a rent reduction negotiated with your agent, lessor or landlord for a period after 27 May 2021.

Your income as a single must be less than $1,208.85 per week, and as a couple less than $1,813.46 to align with annual income limits of $62,860 for singles, and $94,300 for couples. The income limits reflect the moderate income ranges for affordable housing for metropolitan Melbourne as defined by the Planning and Environment Act 1987.

You must have less than $2,000 in savings and you must still be paying at least 30 per cent of your income in rent after your rent reduction.

There are no citizenship or permanent residency requirements for applicants. Applicants that may be eligible include casual workers on holiday and working visas, international students, skilled visa holders, seasonal workers, New Zealand citizens and all refugee and temporary protection visa holders.

What does ‘rental hardship’ mean?

Rental hardship is a situation where a renter is paying more than 30 per cent of their income in rent and may have limited personal savings and access to other benefits or support.

How do I provide proof of a rent reduction agreement?

Applicants are required to provide proof of a rent reduction agreement for a period after 27 May 2021.

The rent reduction can be newly negotiated, or it could have been previously negotiated and active for a period after 27 May 2021.

As part of the application process, you must complete and upload the COVID-19 rent relief grant statutory declaration (Word) as proof of a rent reduction agreement.

For further information on statutory declarations, and how to find an authorised statutory declaration witness visit the Statutory Declaration page on the Department of Justice and Community Safety website. 

For further guidance and support in arranging a rent reduction agreement, the Justice Connect - Dear Landlord tool and Tenants Victoria's advice and templates are available.

I’m a landlord, how should I approach negotiating a rent reduction with my tenant?

Landlords should negotiate in good faith with their tenants. A rent reduction is required for access to a grant payment and will assist renters experiencing financial hardship and rental stress to continue to pay their rent and sustain their tenancy. 

Rental relief grants paid on behalf of renters will be based on reduced rent arrangements negotiated between the renter and landlord and will be used as a credit for rental payments at this reduced amount. The grant should be treated as a deposit amount to the rental balance and has the same effect as if the renter had made a rental payment. The grant should not be used as a top-up for the landlord to make up the difference between the previous rent and the reduced rent agreed as part of a rent deduction.

How do I apply for a grant?

Before applying for a rent relief grant, please check the eligibility criteria. If you meet the eligibility criteria, you can apply for a rent relief grant online.

As part of the application process, you must complete and upload the COVID-19 rent relief grant statutory declaration (Word) as proof of a rent reduction agreement. Further information on rent reduction agreements can be found above.

To contact the department about your grant application please email RentRelief@dffh.vic.gov.au or telephone 1800 490 600 (free call) between 9am and 4 30pm Monday to Friday.

What happens after I complete my rent relief application?

If you need to provide additional information after you submit your application, we will email you.  You will have 14 business days from that email to provide any additional information we require. If we don’t receive the information within this timeframe, your application may be assessed as ineligible.

How soon will rent relief payments be available? 

Once your rent relief application has been approved, your payment will typically be processed within two weeks. The payment is made directly to your agent, lessor or landlord. The Department of Families, Fairness and Housing will inform you once the payment is made. 

What can the relief grant be used for?

The rent relief grant is specifically for the purpose of supporting eligible people experiencing rental hardship.

The payment will be made directly by the Department of Families, Fairness and Housing to your landlord as a credit towards your newly negotiated rental payments charged on your account. The grant should be treated as a deposit amount to the rental balance and has the same effect as if you had made a rental payment.

The grant should not be used as a top-up for the landlord to make up the difference between the previous rent and the reduced rent agreed as part of a rent reduction.

The grant cannot be paid directly to you or used for non-rental expenses, such as utilities or household items.

How is the grant amount calculated?

We will calculate the amount of the grant you can be paid, up to a maximum of $1,500, when we assess your application. The amount of grant is dependent on your income, and the level of reduced rent you are paying. The grant is to be calculated as follows:

  • Where the dollar value of the amount the applicant is in rental hardship (calculated as the amount paid in rent above 30% of the applicant’s income) is $77 per week or more, the applicant will receive the full $1,500 grant. 
  • Where the dollar value of the amount the applicant is in rental hardship is less than $77 per week, the grant will be calculated as 19.5 weeks multiplied by the amount the applicant is paying more than 30% of their income.
How are single and couple applicants assessed for the grant?

If an applicant is single, then their application will be assessed against each of the eligibility criteria for single people.

If the applicant is a couple, then their application will be assessed against each of the eligibility criteria as follows:

  • Only one person needs to demonstrate their income or working hours have been affected by a COVID-19 event
  • Only one person in the couple needs to be listed on a bond or other accommodation agreement
  • The couple is jointly assessed on income, assets and rental hardship
  • If all of the criteria are satisfied, the couple is eligible for one rental grant.
Am I eligible if I live in a multi-occupancy house with a shared lease?

Yes. If you are one of the lease holders in your home and meet the eligibility criteria you may qualify for a grant that represents your portion of the rent.

If you are experiencing financial difficulty paying your rent due to a loss or reduction of income due to COVID-19 on or after 27 May 2021, you and the other renters on the lease should in the first instance contact your agent, lessor or landlord to negotiate an alternative arrangement such as rent reduction.

Will I have to pay my rent relief grant back?

You will not have to pay the grant back. This relies on you providing the current information that shows you meet the eligibility criteria for the rent relief grants.

If you leave your tenancy and you have not used any or all of the grant credit, your agent, lessor or landlord is responsible for returning the unused credit to the Department of Families, Fairness and Housing. 

What if I leave my tenancy or it ends before I receive the rent relief grant?

If your tenancy circumstances change before you receive the rent relief grant, you will need to advise us. Please email RentRelief@dffh.vic.gov.au or telephone 1800 490 600 (free call) between 9am and 4 30pm Monday to Friday.

You may apply for a grant in your tenancy, if you continue to be eligible for the grant.

What if I leave my tenancy and I have not used any or all of the grant credit?

If your tenancy ends and you have not used the full credit amount from the grant, your agent, lessor or landlord is responsible for returning the unused credit to the Department of Families, Fairness and Housing. You and your real estate agent or landlord must agree on the unused grant amount to be returned to the department.

What if I am in urgent need of somewhere to stay?

If you or someone you know is in immediate need of crisis or emergency accommodation, please contact the statewide after-hours service on 1800 825 955 (free call) Monday to Friday and 24 hours on weekends and public holidays. This number will direct your call to a service closest to you, or if the call is outside business hours, it will be directed to Salvation Army Crisis Services.

If the housing issue relates to family violence, please phone the Safe Steps Family Violence Response Centre on 1800 015 188 (free call) or (03) 9322 3555 open 24 hours.

What if I’m not eligible but I’m at risk of losing my tenancy for other reasons?

Other rental support programs are available for people either at risk of or experiencing homelessness.

These include:   

  • RentAssist Bond Loan – If you want to rent privately and need assistance with the bond, you may be able to borrow the money for an interest free loan
  • Commonwealth Rental Assistance - a payment to assist with rental costs for eligible people getting a Centrelink payment
  • Financial help for private renters - information about concessions, hardship support, loans, financial advice and counselling
  • In home support – programs and services that may help people stay in their rented home
  • Rental advice – organisations that provide specialist advice on renting, tenancy issues and relationship and general dispute resolution

You can find out more about these services at the Help with renting page.

If you are homeless or at risk of homelessness, you may also be eligible for assistance under the Private Rental Assistance Program (PRAP).

The program aims to secure and sustain housing in the private rental market through financial assistance for rent in advance, rental arrears and rental subsidies, minor property modifications, and skills training including financial management and budgeting.

To find out more information contact 1800 825 955 (free call) Monday to Friday and 24 hours on weekends and public holidays.

 

Where can I find more information?

If you need to contact the department about your application, please email RentRelief@dffh.vic.gov.au or telephone 1800 490 600 (free call) between 9am and 4 30pm Monday to Friday.

If you meet the eligibility criteria for a grant, you can apply for a rent relief grant online. As part of the application process, you must complete and upload the COVID-19 rent relief grant statutory declaration (Word) as proof of a rent reduction agreement.

For more details about the rental relief grant program, operational guidelines are available on the Housing and homelessness coronavirus page.

For the latest information and health advice about COVID-19, visit Coronavirus Victoria website.