Steps to take if you’re struggling to pay your rent
Make it your highest priority payment
Rent should be your highest priority payment – it’s for your home! It should be the first payment you make on pay day. If you fall behind, keep paying what you can afford and return to normal payments and catch up on missed payments as soon as possible.
- Check whether you can get a utility relief grant to help pay your utility bills and free up money for your rent.
- Find out if you can get food vouchers; this will also help free up money for rent.
If you receive a Centrelink benefit
Check if you’re eligible for Rent Assistance
Rent Assistance payments are income top-ups to make rent more affordable for low-income earners.
Arrange to have your rent taken from your payment
You may be able to have your rent payments taken directly from your Centrelink payment through Centrepay. Your real estate agent needs to be registered with Centrepay.
Check if you’re eligible for a Centrelink advance payment
Centrelink advance payments are interest-free loans available to people on a Centrelink income. They are generally available twice every 12 months.
The advance can be up to $500 ($1000 for pensioners), which you repay by fixed deductions from your fortnightly Centrelink payment.
If you use a Centrelink advance payment to pay your overdue rent, you need to be able to afford both your current rent and the fortnightly repayments of the advanced payment loan. This means managing on a reduced income until the loan is repaid.
Let your landlord know you’re struggling to pay your rent
If you’re about to go into arrears, or are in arrears, inform your landlord or real estate agent and try to negotiate a repayment plan.
When you speak to them, explain your circumstances and ask for consideration. Make sure you explain how you will be able to pay the ongoing rent and also catch up on any missed rental payments.
Be sure to put the offer in writing and keep a copy for yourself. Even if your landlord or real estate agent rejects your offer, you can use the letter as evidence that you tried to resolve the matter.
Make sure to get in touch as soon as you can and keep in regular contact with your landlord or real estate agent.
LONG TERM FINANCIAL HARDSHIP
If your circumstances have changed for the worse and you won’t be able to afford your rent for the foreseeable future, then consider other options, such as getting a boarder or moving to a cheaper rental.
Contact your local tenants’ union for advice
If you can’t come to an agreement with your landlord, or if you have been served a notice to vacate, call your local tenants’ union for advice. They may be able to find a grant or concession that you’re eligible for.
ACT – Tenants’ Union of ACT
Northern Territory – Tenants’ Advice Service, Darwin Community Legal Service
NSW – TenantsNSW
Queensland – Tenants Queensland
South Australia – Tenants Information and Advocacy Service
Tasmania – Tenants’ Union of Tasmania
Victoria – Tenants Union of Victoria
Western Australia – TenancyWA
Speak to one of our financial counsellors
If your problem still hasn’t been solved, or you’re feeling overwhelmed, call us on 1800 007 007 to speak with one of our financial counsellors.
KNOW YOUR RIGHTS
AS A RENTER
You have rights when it comes to your rental property, concerning evictions and breaking the lease.
Breaking your lease
If you have a fixed-term lease and you want to move out of your rented home before the end of the lease, you may be able to break your lease agreement.
You can break your lease if:
- you reach an agreement with your landlord
- you experience financial hardship
- the landlord is in breach of the agreement
- you are in a situation of family or domestic violence
- you find another tenant to take your place.
Remember, the law is different depending on where you live in Australia.
Contact one of our financial counsellors for advice on 1800 007 007 if you need help with financial hardship.
If you don’t pay your rent, you may be evicted by the landlord.
The process for eviction varies slightly depending on which state or territory you live in, but generally the rent payment must be still unpaid after a specified period (usually 14 days); and the landlord must:
- send you a notice to ask you to either move out by a specified date and/or pay the arrears that you owe; and
- make an application to their local tribunal or court for an order that you vacate.
If you’re facing eviction, contact your tenants’ unions (listed above) immediately.
What happens if I don’t vacate?
If your landlord has been granted a possession order and you don’t vacate, the bailiff (Sheriff) can come around and forcibly remove you.