What Real Estate Agents Need to Know About the Changing Landscape of Commonwealth Rent Assistance

An empty apartment with boxes and short ladder

In the dynamic landscape of real estate, staying informed about policy changes and their implications is crucial. A significant development in the 2024-25 Federal Budget is the increase in Commonwealth Rent Assistance (CRA). This article explores this policy shift, its historical context, and its potential impact on the rental market.

Understanding the Recent CRA Increase

The 2024-25 Federal Budget announced a 10% increase in Commonwealth Rent Assistance, following a 15% boost from the previous year. This move aims to alleviate cost-of-living pressures amid rising rental costs. For a single person with three or more children, the maximum CRA payment will rise to approximately $274.90 per fortnight, an increase of about $25.

Despite these increases, CRA has not kept pace with the rapid rise in market rents over the past two decades. Currently, CRA covers only 19.9% of the average weekly rent across Australia, down from 24.9% in 2002. In Sydney, it covers just 17.1% of median rent, while in Brisbane, it accounts for 22.5%.

Historical Context and Implications

The decline in the proportion of rent covered by CRA highlights a significant issue. In 2002, CRA provided more substantial relief, covering 24.9% of the average rent. This proportion has since decreased, with cities like Perth experiencing a decline of 10.4 percentage points. Today’s renters face more financial strain than those two decades ago, even with the recent increases. The Real Estate Institute of Australia (REIA) has called for CRA payments to be pegged to market rental rates at 25% to better support renters.


Impact on Real Estate Agents

Market Insight and Client Advisory

Understanding that CRA covers a smaller portion of rent compared to historical standards helps agents appreciate the financial pressures on renters. This knowledge is essential when advising both landlords and tenants. For landlords, agents can explain how current CRA levels may affect tenant affordability and stability, potentially guiding decisions on rent adjustments to maintain occupancy rates. For tenants, agents can offer realistic advice on budgeting and seeking properties within their financial reach.

Strategic Marketing and Investment

Agents can leverage this data for targeted marketing strategies. Highlighting the affordability of properties in regions where CRA covers a higher percentage of rent, like Brisbane, can attract more tenants. Additionally, understanding the geographical variations in CRA coverage can inform where to focus marketing efforts and investment opportunities.

For property investors, this information is invaluable. Investors can be advised to consider regions where CRA provides better support to renters, potentially resulting in more stable rental income. This strategic approach can also guide new property developments aimed at providing affordable housing solutions.

Advocacy and Policy Influence

Knowledgeable agents can play a role in advocacy by supporting industry bodies like the REIA in their calls for better-aligned CRA payments. By engaging in policy discussions and supporting initiatives that aim to peg CRA to market rents, agents can contribute to a more balanced rental market. This advocacy benefits tenants and stabilizes the market, which is advantageous for landlords and agents alike.

Broader Economic Implications

The REIA has suggested that higher CRA payments could have broader economic benefits, such as lowering the Consumer Price Index (CPI) and, consequently, interest rates. Lower interest rates can stimulate housing supply by making it more feasible for builders to invest in new projects, addressing the imbalance between housing demand and supply. Real estate agents can use this macroeconomic perspective to inform their strategic planning and client advice.


By understanding these changes and their historical context, real estate agents in Australia can better navigate the market, provide informed advice to clients, and strategically position themselves for success. Staying informed about such policy changes is not just about keeping up with the news—it’s about leveraging this knowledge to enhance professional practice and support the broader housing market.


For more detailed information, refer to sources from 9News and the official Budget Documents.

More articles.