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The NSW Government’s Rent Choice Start Safely program provides short to medium-term private rental assistance for people who do not have a stable and secure place to live due to domestic or family violence.

Rent Choice Start Safely supports people who have recently left or need to leave an unsafe relationship by:

  • helping them find a safe and affordable place to rent
  • paying a proportion of their rent for up to 36 months, and
  • referring them to support services for education and employment support to help them reach financial independence.

Who is Rent Choice Start Safely for?

You may be eligible for Rent Choice Start Safely if you:

  • are escaping domestic or family violence, and
  • are homeless or at risk of being homeless, and
  • are eligible for social housing assistance, and
  • can demonstrate that you will be able to afford the private market rent after the subsidy ends; and
  • are willing to engage with support services, if needed.

How can I access Rent Choice Start Safely?

Complete an online application for housing assistance or call the Housing Contact Centre on 1800 422 322. We will assess your application to see if Rent Choice Start Safely might be suitable for you.

What help will I receive to pay my rent?

A Rent Choice Start Safely subsidy is calculated according to your income. For the first 12 months, you pay 25% of your weekly household income plus 100% of any Commonwealth Rent Assistance you may be entitled to receive.

Once you have paid your share of the rent, we pay the rest directly to the landlord or real estate agent. The amount you pay will gradually increase after 12 months, but we’ll chat to you about that closer to the time.

When your income increases, your share of the rent will be adjusted accordingly.

How will I know if a property is affordable?

The Rent Choice Start Safely subsidy will only be approved for a private rental property that is considered affordable and within your financial means. A property is considered affordable if the rent is no more than 50% of your income plus any Commonwealth Rent Assistance you may be entitled to receive.

How long will I receive help for?

Initially, the subsidy will be paid for three months and can be paid for up to 36 months (maximum). Every three months we will review your need for the subsidy and see if you need any additional support.

Is there an income test?

To receive a Rent Choice Start Safely subsidy you must be eligible for social housing. One of the eligibility criteria for social housing is that your household must be within the social housing income eligibility. This is dependent on your household size, type and gross household income.

For subsidy calculation purposes, your Commonwealth Rental Assistance entitlement is included as income, even if you haven’t applied for it or are not receiving it.

You must let your social housing provider know within 28 days if there are any changes to your circumstances, including changes in income. If your income increases during the subsidy period, your subsidy will be adjusted accordingly.

Is there an assets test?

You can receive the subsidy if you have assets but can’t access them in the short to medium term because of circumstances beyond your control. For example, you might have an interest in the family home but the Family Court has ordered that the property cannot be sold pending court proceedings.

What other housing support could I receive?

The Rent Choice Start Safely subsidy can be provided along with other DCJ private rental assistance products and services that you might be eligible for, including:

  • Tenancy Facilitation - Assistance to search and apply for private rental properties.
  • Private Rental Brokerage Service - One to one help for eligible clients with complex needs to secure and sustain a private rental tenancy.
  • Bond Extra – Additional financial support up to $1,500 to landlords or agents to cover rental arrears and/or property damage over and above the rental bond.
  • Rentstart Bond Loan - An interest free loan to help you pay up to 4 weeks bond.
  • Advance Rent - A grant to help pay for 1-2 weeks rent in advance at the start of your tenancy, provided in conjunction with Rentstart Bond Loan.
  • Rent Choice Brokerage Funds – Only available to active Rent Choice Start Safely clients to help establish their tenancy with goods and/or services.


For more information contact your local DCJ Housing office or call:

Housing Contact Centre: 1800 422 322

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Last updated: 24 Jul 2023