Affordable Housing Policy

Affordable Housing Policy (HN Freehold Properties)

1. Purpose

The Homes North Affordable Housing Policy provides guidance and assistance to staff who are involved in allocation and administration of Affordable Housing through Homes North. The policy also provides guidance and assistance on Affordable Housing to existing tenants, applicants as well as the general public.

 

2. Scope

This policy applies to all freehold properties available as Affordable Housing products with Homes North

 

3. Policy Statement

The Homes North Affordable Housing Policy has been developed according to the NSW Affordable Housing Ministerial Guidelines (2017-2018).

 

The aims of Homes North’s Affordable Housing Policy are:

 

  • to facilitate access to affordable rental housing for low to moderate income households
  • to facilitate access to affordable rental housing for social housing tenants, or applicants, in line with the Community Housing Assistance Agreement: Vesting of Capital properties terms and conditions
  • to create sustainable affordable housing tenancies

 

4. Eligibility

Affordable Housing is a separate program designed for low and moderate income households in the general community and has different eligibility criteria (including income criteria) to other social housing programs. To achieve the policy aims the eligibility criteria seek to attract applicants who meet certain household income parameters, and will be able to sustain a tenancy.

 

Income eligibility is measured using the income bands described in the NSW Affordable Housing Ministerial guidelines.

 

Eligible social housing tenants and applicants from the general community (who may not be eligible for social housing) will be encouraged to apply. Allocations from the Housing NSW register (Pathways) will comply with HNSW policy and procedure: Rules to identify potential affordable housing applicants.

 

Eligibility criteria:

 

In order to be eligible to join Homes North Affordable Housing Register, applicants will need to demonstrate that:

 

  • They are permanent residents of Australia and live in New South Wales
  • They meet the Income Eligibility criteria as set out in the NSW Affordable Housing Ministerial Guidelines
  • They have satisfactory rental references covering at least the past 3 years. If this does not apply (for instance if the applicants have not been renting properties for this period) other evidence may be accepted at the discretion of the Senior Housing Manager. Homes North Community Housing may attempt to gain information from other sources if references are not available as long as these comply with the Privacy Act 1988 (NSW).
  • They have the capacity to sustain an Affordable Housing Tenancy, including the capacity to comply with the terms of a residential tenancy agreement, including payment of rent on time, maintain property, and not cause nuisance and annoyance.

 

Eligibility Criteria Table

 

CriteriaDescriptionEvidenceAdditional InformationMandatory 
ResidencyResident of AustraliaAs per Housing Pathways evidenceYes
Income EligibilityLow to moderate income
Moderate income
Proof of incomeAs defined in NSW Affordable Housing guidelinesYes
Satisfactory rental referencesExcellent rental references covering the past 3 yearsCombination of written and verbal references, must include one written referenceOther evidence maybe accepted at discretion of Service ManagerYes
Social housing tenantCurrent social housing tenantRent statement

Applicants who do not meet the first three criteria are not eligible for the programme and will not to be admitted to the Affordable Housing register.

 

5.  Affordable Housing Program Register

Homes North is committed to ensuring transparency and equity of access to the Affordable Housing Program.

 

To be considered for the program applicants will be required to complete an application form. Questions on the form will address the eligibility criteria listed above.

 

A register of approved applicants will be maintained by Homes North. Offers of housing will be made to the longest-waiting applicant and those most in need.
Interest in applying for the program will be garnered through:

 

  • Promotion in local papers
  • Use of Real Estate internet sites
  • Regular information in local free newspapers
  • Distribution of information through multi-agency meetings
  • Reviews of the Housing NSW register

 

6.  Allocations

Although prioritisation of applicants is based on waiting time, Housing Officers will also consider other factors that may limit the sustainability of a tenant for a particular property, such as achieving a suitable balance of older and young people and families, as well as consideration of the immediate housing need of an applicant.

 

The allocation process will:

 

  • Ensure fairness and accountability of procedures, and;
  • Allow for choice to be exercised by the applicant

 

It is important to the success of the program that the applicant be able to exercise a level of choice; therefore, applicants will remain active on the Affordable Housing Register regardless of declining offers.

 

7.  Rent Setting and Review

Rent is set at 80% of the market rent for the property, taking account of factors such as size, age and location of the property.

 

8.  Tenure and Ongoing Eligibility

Tenants will be placed on an initial fixed term lease for a period of 24 months.

 

Should the tenant breach the Tenancy Agreement, by a proven breach, during the term of the lease action will be taken to terminate the tenancy through the NSW Consumer, Administrative and Tenancy Tribunal (NCAT). Exceptions may be made for minor and/or one-off breaches that are rectified and/or do not re-occur. Such exceptions will be at the discretion of the Senior Housing Manager.

 

At the end of this period, a further fixed term lease may be offered, depending on a number of factors, including:

 

  • Compliance with the tenancy agreement (including property care, payment history, any nuisance and annoyance complaints etc.). If there have been repeated minor breaches of the tenancy during the fixed term not sufficiently serious to have taken NCAT action for termination, the lease will only be renewed in cases where the tenant agrees to rectify minor breaches
  • Ongoing eligibility of the tenant for the program except on income
  • Changes to the program including any strategic direction or legislative requirements, or updates to the Ministerial Guidelines.

 

Existing tenants are able to earn up to 25% above the maximum eligible income for moderate income before becoming ineligible.

 

9. Eligibility Review

The Ministerial Guidelines require Homes North to review eligibility and market rents regularly.

 

Homes North reviews market rents and eligibility for our Affordable Housing program annually.

 

10. Right of Appeal

Applicants and tenants have the right to appeal any decision Homes North make regard provision of housing.

 

Homes North has an Appeals Policy in place to manage appeals from applicants and tenants in relation to decisions about their eligibility, housing allocation, or proposed housing allocation or rent setting.

 

NSW Affordable Housing Guidelines Income Thresholds 2017-2018

The income thresholds for New England North -West are as for Remainder of NSW below.

 

Household TypeVery LowLowModerate
Single$22,400$35,800$53,700
Single + 1$29,100$46,500$69,800
Single + 2$35,800$57,200$85,900
Single + 3$42,500$67,900$102,000
Single + 4$49,200$78,600$116,500
Couple$33,600$53,700$80,600
Couple + 1$40,300$64,400$96,700
Couple + 2$47,000$75,100$112,800
Couple + 3$53,700$85,800$128,900
Couple + 4$60,400$96,500$145,000

 

The tables are updated annually by the Centre for Affordable Housing and are available on its website: https://www.facs.nsw.gov.au/providers/housing/affordable/manage/chapters/household-median-incomes-2017-18

 

Relevant legislation

NSW Affordable Housing Ministerial Guidelines 2017-18

 

National Community Housing Standards:

Standard 1.1 Housing Allocation

 

Other Standards:

National Standards for Disability Services (1.5, 1.6, 4.2)

 

Policy information:

Policy no:        1.1.1\2

Adopted:          October 2018