If you’re having trouble paying the initial costs or meeting ongoing expenses, you should check if you’re eligible for any government allowance or financial assistance from community organisations.
The following section provides an overview of where you can go to get help with your finances. Remember to check with the individual organisation to find out if you meet the eligibility criteria and what steps you need to take to get financial help.
Rentstart Bond Loan
Housing NSW has a rental assistance scheme, which provides financial assistance to people who are eligible, to help them set up or maintain a tenancy in the private rental market. To be eligible for Rentstart, you must:
- Be eligible for social housing;
- Have limited cash assets, generally less than $3000; and
- Be able to sustain a tenancy in the private rental market;
- Rent for the property you wish to rent is not more than 50% of your household’s total gross weekly income (for example, if your household’s total gross weekly income is $500, to be eligible for a Rentstart Bond Loan, the weekly rent must be $250 or less).
Under Rentstart, Housing NSW may be able to assist you with a loan of up to 75% of your rental bond to establish a tenancy in the private rental market.
The loan is interest free and repayable to Housing NSW. Any payments you make can be returned to you at the end of the tenancy if there is no claim made by the landlord or real estate agent.
You will be required to pay fortnightly instalments, generally over a 12 to 18 month period. Housing NSW can offer longer repayment plans if needed, so you should speak to Housing NSW if you are having difficulties with repayments. Your payment plan will be based on how much of your income will be spent on rent.
Forms can be found on-line or at your local Housing NSW office. Phone your local Housing NSW office for more information or check out their factsheet online at www.housingpathways.nsw.gov.au.
Supported accommodation assistance program
The Supported Accommodation Assistance Program (SAAP) funds community organisations and local councils to provide supported accommodation and related support services for people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness, and for people escaping domestic violence. Information and referrals are available from the Homeless Persons Information Centre, the Domestic Violence Line and the Youth Emergency Accommodation Line (see Contact Points).
Centrelink benefits – rent assistance
You may be eligible for Rent Assistance if you pay rent and you’re eligible for an allowance or benefit. You do not need to make a separate application for Rent Assistance. Centrelink will assess your eligibility when you make a claim for another payment, such as a youth allowance.
You will need to show Centrelink proof of rent and complete a Rent Certificate. If you have a formal written tenancy agreement, you will need to show this to Centrelink. If you don’t have one, or are not named on the tenancy agreement, you will need to get the person you pay rent to sign your Rent Certificate.
The amount of Rent Assistance you get depends on a range of factors, including your rent, whether you are single or live with a partner and whether you have any dependent children. Phone your local Centrelink office to find out whether you are eligible for Rent Assistance or check out their policies online at www.humanservices.gov.au (see Contact Points).
Energy Accounts Payment Assistance Scheme (EAPA)
The EAPA Scheme provides emergency help with electricity or gas bills. Under the scheme, charities such as the Smith Family, St Vincent de Paul and the Salvation Army can provide electricity vouchers to people in need, so contact one of these organisations if you need help. Generally vouchers are only given to people on Centrelink benefits or on a low income. The customer can forward the EAPA voucher together with the balance of the bill to the electricity or gas supplier. The supplier will credit the value of the voucher towards the account. For more information, contact the Energy Information Line (see Contact Points).
Emergency Relief is funded by the Commonwealth Government and is available through more than 300 community organisations across NSW including charities, Aboriginal organisations and neighbourhood centres. Emergency assistance can be provided in the form of food vouchers, part-payment of outstanding rent or bills, petrol vouchers, assistance with rent/ accommodation, and budget assistance. Guidelines for eligibility and maximum amounts given are determined by each organisation.
Contact the Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs in NSW for more information (see Contact Points).
Tertiary student assistance
If you’re a tertiary student, contact the students’ association on your campus for information about financial assistance. Some Student Representative Councils also give interest-free emergency loans.
Financial counsellors can help you assess your financial situation and support you while you make decisions about it. Contact a financial counselling service like Credit Line for more information (see Contact Points).