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Public housing rent explainer

What is public housing?

Public housing is housing owned and managed by Homes Victoria. The government provides public housing to eligible Victorians including:

  • people who are unemployed
  • on low incomes
  • live with a disability or a mental illness
  • or who are at risk of homelessness.

Read more in this housing explainer.

Image of apartments with white bricks having big windows and balcony

Who pays public housing rent and how is it decided?

Public housing rent is paid by people who live in public housing. The amount they pay is either no more than 25% of their household income or the market rent of the property - whichever is the lesser amount. 

This ensures a fair and sustainable public housing system and is very different to the private rental market that does not have this protection.

What is a market rent review?

A market rent review is an assessment conducted once a year to adjust rents to ensure a fair and sustainable public housing system. 

Market rent is the value the property would rent for in the private market and is regularly and independently assessed by the Valuer General Victoria based on similar properties . The Valuer General considers the age, building location and amenity of a selection of public housing properties in determining market rents.

A small number of Victoria’s public housing renters pay market rent with the vast majority receiving a rental rebate from the Department of Families, Fairness and Housing to keep their rent at 25 per cent of their household income.

Where does public housing rent go?

Every dollar that is generated from rent-goes back into making public housing better.

Rent is invested in things like maintenance, cleaning, security and the delivery of other important housing services for renters 

What protections are there for public housing renters?

No public housing renter is expected to pay more than 25% of their household income on rent or the market rent of the property - whichever is the lesser amount.

If the market rent of a property is more than 25% of a household income, the household can apply for a rental rebate so that their rental costs remain affordable. Over time, the incomes of households living in public housing can increase due to changing circumstances and employment – however so long as they continue to meet income and asset eligibility rules, they are still entitled to stay in public housing and pay no more than 25% of their income as rent. 

All public housing renters are notified of rent reviews and outcomes.

What can public housing renters do if they feel their rent is too high?

Renters can apply for a rental rebate by updating their household and income information using Housing Vic Online Services, or by submitting an Application for rental rebate via their local housing office. 

If renters are not eligible for a rental rebate and have extenuating circumstances that reduce their ability to meet existing financial obligations, they can discuss other support options with their local housing office.

If a renter believes their market rent amount is unfair, they can also seek an independent review conducted by Consumer Affairs Victoria or apply for an order directly through VCAT.

What does rent cost in Victoria?

This rent costing tool will help you find what you can expect to pay for private rentals. It draws data from the Homes Victoria Quarterly Rental Report.

Use the rental costing tool here.