The Guides to Social Policy Law is a collection of publications designed to assist decision makers administering social policy law. The information contained in this publication is intended only as a guide to relevant legislation/policy. The information is accurate as at the date listed at the bottom of the page, but may be subject to change. To discuss individual circumstances please contact Services Australia. Government rent & RA


RA is generally not payable for rent paid to state and territory governments most commonly called 'public housing'. This topic covers:

  • what is Government rent
  • RA and Government rent
  • person who sub-lets in public housing
  • rent relief schemes
  • community housing, and
  • National Rental Affordability Scheme (NRAS).

What is Government rent?

Government rent means rent payable to one of the SHAs named in SSAct subsection 13(1). It does not include rent paid to an SHA in their capacity as property manager or rent collector on behalf of another organisation. If the name of an authority referred to in section 13(1) is altered by the law of a state, the Northern Territory or the Australian Capital Territory, the definition continues to apply to the authority under its new name.

An updated list of SHAs is as follows:

State/territory Name of SHA
ACT Community Services Directorate - Housing & Community Services ACT
NT Department of Local Government, Housing and Community Development
NSW Department of Communities and Justice
Vic Department of Health and Human Services - Housing Vic
Qld Department of Housing and Public Works
SA SA Housing Authority
WA Department of Communities - Housing
Tas Department of Communities Tasmania - Housing Tasmania

Act reference: SSAct section 13(5) If a law of a State …

RA & Government rent

A person who pays Government rent is not eligible for RA, even if they are paying market rent or have a sub-tenant. Market rent is determined by the SHAs as an amount of rent that would be payable for an equivalent private dwelling in the particular area.

Exception: RA may be paid to those people affected by the collapse of Homefund and are now paying rent to the NSW Government. RA is calculated on the amount of money they actually pay.

Sub-tenants in public housing (1.1.S.400) may be eligible for RA in limited circumstances as described below.

Act reference: SSAct section 13(1)-'Government rent'

Person who sub-lets in public housing

A resident of an SHA dwelling who pays lodgings to the primary tenant (1.1.P.400) is referred to as a sub-tenant.

A sub-tenant in public housing cannot qualify for RA unless:

  • the primary tenant pays market rent as determined by the SHA, or
  • the primary tenant has advised the SHA that they have a sub-tenant, and
  • the sub-tenant's income has been taken into consideration when calculating the rent payable by the primary tenant.

Act reference: SSAct section 13(3AC) If a person pays …

Rent relief schemes

Some state and territory governments operate rent relief schemes. These schemes have varying eligibility criteria for RA provisions. See for a full list of operating schemes and how to assess RA if payable.

Community housing

People who rent from community housing organisations may be eligible for RA. This includes those living in community housing accommodation specifically provided for Indigenous people, people with disabilities, refugees etc.

Community housing organisations are legally separate entities to state or territory government housing authorities. Community housing providers are responsible for the day to day management of their housing stock, including the setting of rents, and are accountable to the relevant state or territory government regarding the use of state and Commonwealth funding provided for community housing.

An exception to this rule occurs when a community organisation is delegated the legal right to rent out government housing trust properties, on behalf of the housing authority. In such cases, if the rent is payable directly to the state or territory government housing authority, it is classified as 'Government rent' under social security law.

Policy reference: SS Guide Assessing RA payable

National Rental Affordability Scheme (NRAS)

A person who is renting a dwelling under the NRAS may be eligible for RA. NRAS dwellings are owned by financial institutions, non-profit organisations and local councils and are rented at 20% below market rate to eligible individuals and families.

Rent collected for NRAS dwellings is not considered to be 'Government rent'.

Last reviewed: