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Help if you can’t pay your rent

Not only are food, energy, and fuel prices increasing but an Australia-wide housing shortage is also seeing rents increasing across the nation.

If you are having difficulty paying your rent, consider approaching your letting agent or landlord and let them know about your situation and request a rent reduction.

If you are not successful in getting a reduction, consider the suitability of these options for your circumstances:

  • Moving to a lower cost area. Noting that you will need to plan for one-off moving and connection costs
  • Sharing accommodation with people you trust
  • Moving in with family.

The Australian Government via the Department of Social Services provides support to those in need of affordable housing and homelessness services.

What happens if you have overdue rent?

If you have not paid rent when it is due, you are technically in rent arrears. If you do not proactively take steps to manage your arrears, your landlord or agent might take steps to evict you. 

You could contact your landlord or agent and propose a repayment plan. It might help if you explain why you are not able to pay the full amount immediately and how you are dealing with your current cash shortage.


  1. Checking your budget and how much you think you could realistically afford to pay.
  2. Contacting your landlord or agent and letting them know you’d like to make a new payment arrangement. You might like to send them a copy of your budget to show you are offering to pay the most you can manage.
  3. If they agree to your proposal, keep a record of this new payment arrangement, and make every effort to stick to it.

If your landlord or agent declines your offer of repayment of the arrears, it is very important you make the payments as soon as you possibly can, or they may choose to take further action to get back the missed payment.

What happens if I cannot pay my rent arrears?

If your rent is overdue (in arrears), the landlord or agent may seek to cancel your lease due to non-payment of rent. The tenancy legislation in your state sets out what happens if this action is taken.

To access more information and explore your rights as a tenant, you could contact your state’s tenancy advice services:

If you are looking to rent a new property and there are arrears on your previous property, it may be difficult to find a landlord, who is willing to rent to you. If court action is taken or a debt collection agency employed to recover the arrears, this may be shown on your credit report and may affect your credit score and ability to borrow money in the future.

Looking for extra help?

Sometimes these situations can feel overwhelming, and you may want some extra help. In Australia, the National Debt Helpline offers free resources, including professional financial counsellors, and confidential advice to help you get back on track with rent.

When it comes to ‘Overdue rent help the National Debt Helpline recommends:

  1. Make paying your rent your highest priority.
  2. Check whether you are eligible for Centrelink benefits such as Rent Assistance.
  3. Inform your landlord or rental agent that you would like to negotiate a repayment plan.
  4. If you are not able to come to an agreement with your landlord or letting agent, you may wish to contact your local tenancy advice service. (See links above)
  5. Talk to one of their financial counsellors for free, confidential and independent advice.

Where to go if you need help to deal with financial hardship

If you need some help to deal with financial hardship, the National Debt Helpline may be able to help.

To speak to a financial counsellor, you can:

  • Call the National Debt Helpline on 1800 007 007 – open Weekdays from 9:30 am to 4:30 pm, Sydney time
  • Try the National Debt Helpline’s live chat service, which is available weekdays from 9:00 am to 8.00 pm, Sydney time. If you send a message outside these hours a financial counsellor will get back to you
  • Make an appointment to see a financial counsellor in your local area – Find a local Financial Counsellor.


Things you should know

This information is general in nature and has been prepared without taking your objectives, needs and overall financial situation into account. For this reason, you should consider the appropriateness for the information to your own circumstances and, if necessary, seek appropriate professional advice.

© Westpac Banking Corporation ABN 33 007 457 141 AFSL and Australian Credit Licence 233714.