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Manage Affordable Housing overview

Managing affordable housing involves the standard property and tenancy management requirements of managing any rental housing. However, it also involves additional responsibilities around setting rent, letting properties to eligible households and meeting the requirements of the relevant affordable housing program.

In general, managing affordable housing involves:

  • establishing and implementing rent policy
  • determining household eligibility for affordable housing properties
  • finding eligible tenants, managing applications and assessments and allocating properties
  • managing eligible tenancies, including collecting rent and maintaining properties
  • reviewing eligibility and managing a tenant’s exit if they are no longer eligible to stay in the property.

If you are managing affordable housing properties which were acquired using government funds or benefits, you will need to meet the requirements associated with that funding or benefit. These requirements will be outlined in funding contracts and/or in government endorsed guidelines and include criteria such as which households are eligible, how rents should be set and what information needs to be provided to the funding body.

Requirements may differ from program to program according to contractual arrangements, and your responsibilities will vary depending on whether you own the property or are managing it on behalf of, or in partnership with, another organisation.

All tenancy managers of affordable housing in NSW must comply with the Residential Tenancies Act 2010.

Managing NRAS properties

The National Rental Affordability Scheme (NRAS) is an Commonwealth Government initiative delivered in partnership with the NSW Government to support the delivery of new affordable rental housing supply.

NRAS provides incentives through the Commonwealth and State Governments for up to 10 years to develop affordable housing, on the condition that rent is discounted by at least 20 percent below the market rate and targeted to eligible low to moderate income families.

Affordable housing properties receiving NRAS incentives are managed according to Policy Guidelines developed by the Commonwealth Government. To view the NRAS Policy Guidelines or for more information about NRAS, go to the FAHCSIA web site and scroll down to the Policy Guidelines section.

Some NRAS properties were developed by community housing providers with upfront capital funding from the NSW Government, under a scheme called NRAS A.

Properties receiving NRAS A funding must comply with both the Commonwealth NRAS Guidelines and the NSW Affordable Housing Guidelines. Where Commonwealth NRAS Guidelines differ from these Guidelines, for example in maximum income limits, the Commonwealth NRAS Guidelines prevail to the extent of the difference.

Managing properties with NSW Government funding

The NSW Government has developed the NSW Affordable Housing Guidelines to inform the management of affordable housing funded in part by the NSW Government. These guidelines include overarching principles for delivering affordable housing in NSW, as well as policy requirements on income limits for eligibility and rent setting.

Funding contracts indicate where affordable housing must be managed according to the NSW Affordable Housing Guidelines. Generally, this will include properties that have been acquired from:

  • leveraged finance from vested assets
  • capital grants for social and affordable housing, for example the Social Housing Growth Fund
  • land and capital grants for affordable housing delivered through planning agreements such as under the St Marys and Rouse Hill Affordable Housing Projects
  • affordable housing programs such as Debt Equity Rounds 1 and 2 and the Affordable Housing Innovations Fund; and
  • NRAS A - where the NSW Government has provided an upfront grant or contribution in kind. Note that properties receiving NRAS funding must also comply with Commonwealth NRAS Policy Guidelines, which will take precedence where there is any difference between the requirements of the two.

View or download the NSW Affordable Housing Guidelines.

The Guidelines contain maximum income eligibility limits which are updated annually. Please see the maximum income eligibility limits for 2020/21.

Managing affordable housing developed under ARHSEPP

Affordable rental housing which has been approved using planning incentives under the State Environmental Planning Policy (Affordable Rental Housing) 2009 must be rented as affordable housing to very low, low or moderate households for at least 10 years and must be managed by a registered community housing provider.

Rent may be set in one of two ways:

  1. At least 20% below market rent for an NRAS eligible household (NRAS dwellings must use this rent setting approach)
  2. 25 - 30% of income as rent for very low, low or moderate income households.

It is recommended that these properties be managed according to the NSW Affordable Housing Guidelines as a best practice guide for delivering affordable housing in NSW.

New generation boarding houses developed under the ARHSEPP do not need to be managed by a community housing provider.

Household median incomes 2020-21

The following information is to be used by tenancy managers to determine appropriate household income eligibility limits for affordable housing.

1. How household income eligibility limits for affordable housing are determined

Affordable housing is available to households within very low, low and moderate incomes bands.

Definitions of income bands are in accordance with the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979, the Affordable Rental Housing State Environmental Planning Policy 2009, Clause 6 (1).and State Environmental Planning Policy No 70 – Affordable Housing (Revised Schemes) Clause 8.

Income bands are based on median incomes in the proportions as per Table 1.

Table 1: Income bands by % of median income

INCOME BANDS

% OF MEDIAN INCOME

ANNUAL INCOME RANGE (SYDNEY) 2020-21

ANNUAL INCOME RANGE (REMAINDER OF NSW) 2020-21

Very Low

50% median

$49,300

$41,900

Low

50% - 80% median

$78,900

$67,000

Moderate

80% - 120% median

$118,300

$100,500

In the planning legislation sited above, two median income measures are used:

  • The first is based on the ABS Greater Capital City Statistical Area boundaries, including Central Coast LGA to the north, Blue Mountains LGA to the west and Wollondilly to the south.
  • The second is based on the ABS Remainder of NSW Statistical Area. However, these Guidelines use the ‘whole of NSW Statistical Region’ instead of the ‘Rest of NSW statistical Region’.  This is to take account of differences between major regional areas vs remote areas.

These median income measures are generalized and do not take account of household type – single person, couple, couple with two children, single parent with one child, etc. Before the household income limits for affordable housing can be set, they need to be equivalised.

Equivalised income is a measure of household income that takes account of the differences in a household's size and composition, thus enabling comparison of income levels between households of differing size and composition, and reflecting the requirement of a larger household to have a higher level of income to achieve the same standard of living as a smaller household. Equivalised household income eligibility limits for affordable housing are at Table 2.

In general, the household income eligibility limit for the moderate income band sets the maximum income allowable for a household to be eligible for affordable housing. However, affordable housing managers are encouraged to allocate affordable housing to households from all three income bands, and some affordable housing programs require this. To better facilitate this, income limits for all three income bands are included in Tables 2, 3 and 4.

2.    Calculating household income eligibility limits by household size

To determine the household income eligibility limits by household size, take the following steps:

Step 1: Add up the number of adults (18 years old or over) in the household.

Step 2: Add up the number of children (under 18 years old) in the household.

Step 3: For each adult and child add up the income allowance using Table 2.

Table 2: Household income eligibility limits for affordable housing: 2020-21

Household members

Gross annual household income

Very low

Low

Moderate

Sydney

Single adult

$28,300

$45,200

$67,800

Each additional adult (18 years or over)

Add $14,200 to the income limit

Add $22,600 to the income limit

Add $33,900 to the income limit

Each additional child (under 18 years)

Add $8,500

Add $13,600

Add $20,300

New South Wales

Single adult

$25,100

$40,200

$60,200

Each additional adult (18 years or over)

Add $12,600to the income limit

Add $20,100 to the income limit

Add $30,100 to the income limit

Each additional child (under 18 years)

Add $7,500

Add $12,100

Add $18,100

For convenience, this has already been extrapolated for you in tables 3 and 4. These tables provide a quick reference guide to maximum income levels for a range of different household sizes and combinations. Table 3 is for households in the Sydney statistical district (as defined by ABS) while Table 4 is for the rest of NSW.

Table 3: Household income eligibility limits for Sydney region: 2020-21

Household Type

Very Low

Low

Moderate

Single

$28,300

$45,200

$67,800

Single + 1

$36,800

$58,800

$88,100

Single + 2

$45,300

$72,400

$108,400

Single + 3

$53,800

$86,000

$128,700

Single + 4

$62,300

$99,600

$149,000

Couple

$42,500

$67,800

$101,700

Couple + 1

$51,000

$81,400

$122,000

Couple + 2

$59,500

$95,000

$142,300

Couple + 3

$68,000

$108,600

$162,600

Couple + 4

$76,500

$122,200

$182,900

Table 4: Household income eligibility limits for rest of NSW: 2020-21

Household Type

Very Low

Low

Moderate

Single

$25,100

$40,200

$60,200

Single + 1

$32,600

$52,300

$78,300

Single + 2

$40,100

$64,400

$96,400

Single + 3

$47,600

$76,500

$114,500

Single + 4

$55,100

$88,600

$132,600

Couple

$37,700

$60,300

$90,300

Couple + 1

$45,200

$72,400

$108,400

Couple + 2

$52,700

$84,500

$126,500

Couple + 3

$60,200

$96,600

$144,600

Couple + 4

$67,700

$108,700

$162,700

3.    Ongoing eligibility - income limits for existing tenants of affordable housing

Affordable housing tenants are able to earn 25% over the maximum access income limit and still remain eligible. Table 5 shows the ongoing eligibility maximum income limits for Sydney tenants, while Table 6 shows ongoing eligibility maximum income limits for NSW.

Table 5: Ongoing eligibility income limits for Sydney affordable housing tenants: 2020-21

Household Type

Ongoing eligibility maximum income limit

Single

$84,750

Single + 1

$110,125

Single + 2

$135,500

Single + 3

$160,875

Single + 4

$186,250

Couple

$127,125

Couple + 1

$152,500

Couple + 2

$177,875

Couple + 3

$203,250

Couple + 4

$228,625

Table 6: Ongoing eligibility income limits for affordable housing tenants in the rest of NSW: 2020-21

Household Type

Ongoing eligibility maximum income limit

Single

$75,250

Single + 1

$97,875

Single + 2

$120,500

Single + 3

$143,125

Single + 4

$165,750

Couple

$112,875

Couple + 1

$135,500

Couple + 2

$158,125

Couple + 3

$180,750

Couple + 4

$203,375

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Last updated: 24 Sep 2019