A NSW Government website

Social and affordable housing

Social and affordable housing is rental housing for members of the community who may not be able to afford to rent in the general market.

Affordable housing is for very low to moderate income households. The meaning of very low to moderate incomes is explained in the State Environmental Planning Policy (Housing) 2021 (Housing SEPP).

Generally speaking, affordable housing is priced so that a household is spending no more than a certain amount of its income on rent. This helps to ensure that the household has enough money for other essentials such as food, medicine, clothing and transport.

Under the Housing SEPP, social housing can be provided by:

  • the NSW Government
  • registered community housing providers
  • the Aboriginal Housing Office or an Aboriginal housing organisation registered under the Aboriginal Housing Act 1998
  • a local government authority that provides affordable housing
  • a not-for-profit organisation that is a direct provider of rental housing to tenants

Registrar of Community Housing

The Registrar of Community Housing is responsible for implementing the National Regulatory System for Community Housing in New South Wales. This involves registering, monitoring and regulating community housing providers. Community housing providers are non-government organisations which provide housing for people on very low, low and moderate incomes.

Community housing providers are the responsible for the management of affordable housing delivered under the Housing SEPP.

Frequently asked questions

What planning provisions apply to social and affordable housing?

The Housing SEPP:

  • Requires new boarding houses to be affordable housing and permanently managed by a registered community housing provider.
  • Has extended the minimum period that some properties need to be classed as affordable housing to 15 years. Including in-fill affordable housing.
  • Sets out new consent conditions for all affordable housing types. These conditions include the requirement to apply the NSW Affordable Housing Ministerial Guidelines.
  • Sets LAHC’s self-assessment powers to include:
    • residential development with up to 60 dwellings on a single site and a maximum height of 9m
    • boarding houses, and
    • seniors housing
  • Requires LAHC to consider design guidelines during self-assessments including, Good Design for Social Housing and Land and Housing Corporation Dwelling Requirements
  • Makes some other changes to the in-fill affordable housing provisions.

Expanded self-assessment powers for the Aboriginal Housing Office

On 1 July 2022 the Housing SEPP was updated to allow the Aboriginal Housing Office to self-assess housing developments up to 60 homes, consistent with the existing provisions for LAHC.

The AHO will be required to consider the Aboriginal Housing Office Design Guidelines NSW to ensure developments are of good design and incorporate cultural sustainability principles to suit the needs of Aboriginal people across different communities.

Why does the Housing SEPP offer incentives for affordable housing?

In some cases, the government offers incentives such as floor space ratio bonuses. Incentives encourage developers to deliver affordable housing that will help to meet the needs of the community.

Where can I find the information referred to in the new definition of affordable housing households?

The Housing SEPP includes a revised definition of affordable housing households. This definition relies on information from the Australian Bureau of Statistics and about the National Rental Affordability Scheme. You can find this information here:

Who is LAHC?

The NSW Land and Housing Corporation (LAHC) is responsible for the NSW Government’s social housing portfolio. LAHC supports the priorities of the Government’s social housing policy Future Directions for Social Housing in NSW. Future Directions is underpinned by three strategic priorities:

  1. more social housing
  2. more opportunities, support and incentives to avoid and/or leave social housing
  3. a better social housing experience

The Housing SEPP makes it easier and faster for LAHC to deliver the right kind of housing, in the right areas, for people in need.

Who are the Aboriginal Housing Office?

The Aboriginal Housing Office (AHO) is a statutory body established under the Aboriginal Housing Act 1998 (NSW) to ensure that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have access to affordable, quality housing.

What should I do if I am concerned that affordable housing is not being managed appropriately?

Affordable housing provided under the SEPP must be managed by a community housing provider registered with the Registrar of Community Housing. The Registrar investigates complaints and ensures registered community housing meet their obligations under the National Regulatory Code.

Local councils ensure that development complies with consent conditions. If you are concerned about a development not being carried out in accordance with its consent, please contact the local council.

I need to apply to live in social or affordable housing. How do I do this?

You can use the links below to find out how to apply for:

The Department of Planning and Environment does not manage social or affordable housing tenancies. For more information about how to apply for these types of housing, visit the Department of Communities and Justice.

For more information, email [email protected] or phone 02 8289 6701.