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Renting with a disability: What are your rights?

A closeup of a set of keys in a front door

Congratulations, you have made the decision to move out of home. It’s no secret that leaving home is both exciting and daunting. There are often a lot of steps involved in moving out of home, and when you have a disability there’s even more to consider. The good news is, we’re here to help! While there are many things to keep in mind, in this article, we will be focusing on renting a home.

What are your rights?

Put simply, when it comes to renting, you have the same rights as everyone else. Disability Support Guide, an online source of information for people with disability, states that landlords and agents cannot refuse your application or evict you solely because of your physical or intellectual disability, or mental health condition. The same goes if you have a guide, hearing or assistance dog. Landlords and agents cannot refuse to rent you a property or room, ask you to leave the property, or ask you to pay an extra charge because of your dog. However, you may be responsible for any damage that your dog causes to the rental property.

According to the Queensland Human Rights Commission (QHRC), a tenant with an impairment also has the right to make reasonable alterations to a property in order to meet their needs. This may include changes to bathrooms, toilets and kitchens or installation of ramps, grab rails and hand rails. However, QHRC says this can only be done if the alterations do not affect the structure of the premises, you agree to remove any alterations when you move out and you pay for the installation and removal of the alterations.

If you feel you are being treated unfairly by a real estate agent or landlord, you can make a complaint to the relevant human rights commission within your state or territory. If you live in Queensland, you can contact the QHRC.

Does the NDIS pay rent?

The short answer is no. While the NDIS can assist participants to live independently, it does not contribute to paying rent. NDIS participants are responsible for day-to-day living costs including rent, groceries, utilities and internet.

So how can the NDIS help? The NDIS provides a range of home and living support services. These services may include personal care supports, like showering and dressing, housing supports, such as assistance with cleaning and laundry, home modifications and housing information. Some of these services fall under the Supported Independ Living (SIL) program.

NDIS participants may also apply for Specialist Disability Accommodation (SDA). SDA is housing designed for people with extreme functional impairment or very high support needs. SDA funding includes the cost of the home or building you live in, however, usually you’ll still need to pay rent and other personal costs. Find out if you’re eligible for SDA funding here.

Help with renting

Services Australia says you may be eligible for rent assistance if you pay rent and are already getting the Disability Support Pension. For more information on how much you can get and how to get it, please visit the Services Australia website.

Anyone receiving a disability support pension may be eligible for rent assistance if they meet the following requirements:

  • You’re 18 or older
  • You’re younger than 18 and independent
  • You’re younger than 18 and living in disability accommodation or away from your parents’ home due to a medical condition

Remember, you can always discuss your options as part of your NDIS planning or talk to your support provider or Support Coordinator about how they can help.