Rent in public housing
There are two types of rent for public and Aboriginal housing.
This is the maximum amount of rent you can be charged for the property. It's based on the Valuer-General's assessment and takes into account the size, nature and location of the property. Market rents are reviewed once a year.
Subsidised rent is based on your household income before tax. If you're eligible for a subsidised rent, you pay a rent of no more than 25% of your household's total assessable income before tax.
Housing SA reviews subsidised rents twice a year, and whenever your household income changes.
You're eligible for a subsidised rent if you meet both of the conditions below:
- the market rent is more than 25% of your total household income before tax
- no one in your household owns or partly owns any residential property.
You have to tell Housing SA in writing within 14 days if:
- someone moves into your household
- your household income changes.
The 2018-19 State Budget included changes to subsidised rents. More information is available from this information sheet.
Apply for subsidised rent
- request a rent review form online, or contact Housing SA to have one sent to you
- complete the rent review form
- provide proof of income for everyone aged 16 and over in the household
- return all documentation to Housing SA.
Market rents are reviewed once a year.
Subsidised rents are reviewed twice a year and whenever your household or household income changes.
You may need to provide proof of your household income.
Housing SA tells you if your rent changes.
2018-19 State Budget rent changes
Subsidised rent in cottage flats has been based on either:
- 19% for bedsit cottage flats
- 21% for one bedroom cottage flats.
From November 2018, the percentage of your assessable income that is used to calculate your subsidised rent will gradually increase over several years until it reaches 25%.
Each stage of the changes will be 1% or 1.5% of assessable income with a limit of $10 per week. Other rent changes will occur as normal such as when your income or household changes.
The changes bring these properties into line with all other Housing SA properties.
If you have questions about these changes, contact Housing SA.
How the changes will be made
Cottage flat households that currently pay 19% (bedsit) or 21% (one-bedroom) of assessable income for rent will gradually move to 25% over several years. This will bring cottage flat rent in line with other public housing.
Households with a moderate income (above the lowest 40% of the population) will pay up to 30% of their income.
Under both changes, eligible households will continue to pay the lesser of market rent or an income-based rent.
When changes will be introduced
Changes will be introduced over several years.
Cottage flat changes:
- 1.5% increase in November 2018 and November 2019.
- 1% increases every six months from late 2020 to late 2021.
- Increases will be a maximum of $10 per week at each stage.
Moderate income changes will be implemented from 2021-22.
Who is affected
These changes will not affect people living in remote Aboriginal Communities.
The changes will affect:
- Around 3,000 households in public housing and several hundred in community housing who live in cottage flats and pay less than market rent.
- Between 500 and 1,000 households with at least a moderate income who pay less than market rent.
The changes to cottage flat rents are being implemented first and are expected to be complete by late 2021.
The moderate income changes are scheduled for introduction from 2021-22.
Some people may be affected by both changes, this will only happen if a person in a cottage flat pays less than market rent and has a moderate income in 2021-22. A review of records will be done in 2021.
How much extra tenants will pay
Exact changes will vary depending on household composition and income level.
More than 98% of cottage flats are single-person households and for most, each 1.5% increase in rent will be approximately $6.30 per week and $4.20 for a 1.0% change.
Precise changes will depend on a household's income and the market rent of their home. If rent assessment changes from 25% to 30% of income, a single person who earns $1,000 per week could pay up to $50 extra per week (provided the new amount is still less than market rent).
What the biggest rent increase will be for any home
Eligible households pay the lesser of market rent or their reduced income-based rent. This means that an increase in rent will depend on a household’s income and the gap between their current rent and market rent.
How much time tenants will have to prepare for the changes
Changes will be introduced over several years and this will help households to plan ahead.
Changes to cottage flat rents are gradual from late 2018 to late 2021.
Changes for households with at least moderate income do not start until 2021-22.
These changes will be introduced with usual twice-yearly rent adjustments
Rents are automatically reviewed twice per year after Centrelink indexes payments in March and September. Rent changes then take effect in May and November. The new rates for cottage flat rents will be introduced at the same time as these automatic reviews.
Rent policy changes, separate from updating rents in line with income changes, need to be considered periodically in light of changes to community expectations, the cost of alternative housing, and Commonwealth welfare policies. These changes will be staged over time so that tenants can plan ahead.
The changes do apply to community housing
Any homes that are subject to the South Australian Housing Trust rent policy are affected by these changes. This includes between 400 and 500 cottage flat homes that were transferred to community housing providers since 2015.
Community Housing Providers will be able to use the additional rent to support their ongoing work and Housing SA will work with providers on the implementation of these changes.
Why market rent isn't charged to everyone
Social housing focuses on people who have major barriers to accessing private housing – the biggest customer group are singles with low income who compete for similar homes against higher income singles, couples and small families.
Various reviews have recommended charging market rents but the same reviews have made this conditional on paying Commonwealth Rent Assistance to public housing tenants - that is not currently allowed under the Commonwealth’s Social Security Act 1991.
What moderate income is
Specific moderate income thresholds for South Australia, that vary based on the size of households, will be finalised closer to the implementation date in 2021-22.
Most people living in social housing have low or very low income. Based on current data, less than 5% of social housing households have moderate incomes.
NSW has developed and published income thresholds where public housing tenants pay up to 30% of income and then higher thresholds where public housing tenants must pay market rent.
Affected tenants will be contacted
Housing SA will write to all affected public housing tenants with information about the changes.
Tenants do not need to take any specific action now, they will be notified of any change to their rent before it occurs.
As always, tenants still need to tell their property manager about any changes to their household or household income.
Help is available for people experiencing cost of living pressures
The State Government provides other concessions and supports across a range of areas such as utilities and public transport. Anyone who needs more information about these can use the ‘Concession Finder’ website at www.sa.gov.au/concessions.