One of the mechanisms available to a Responsible Authority, such as a council, to facilitate affordable housing in a new residential development is through negotiating an Affordable Housing Agreement with the landowner. Unfortunately, over the past few years, many attempts to negotiate agreements have not resulted in the delivery of affordable housing.

Including an objective in the Planning and Environment Act 1987 to “facilitate the provision of affordable housing" has removed a significant hurdle for Responsible Authorities that are seeking to facilitate affordable housing in their municipality through planning mechanisms. As for any objective in the Act, a Responsible Authority must undertake the appropriate strategic land use research and municipal policy development in relation to affordable housing. The changes to the Act do not remove the need for a strategic basis for a position by the Responsible Authority.

It is important to note that because any section 173 agreement is entered into voluntarily, councils and landowners have always been able to enter into a section 173 agreement for a range of outcomes, including affordable housing. This change to the Act just clarifies that a section 173 is a legal mechanism that can be used in appropriate circumstances to deliver affordable housing in a new development.

The overall process for developing an Affordable Housing Agreement and securing it by way of a section 173 is similar to the process for developing any section 173. The difference is that Affordable Housing is a fairly new area of specialisation in the planning sector in Victoria

An example section 173 has been developed to help facilitate the successful negotiation of agreements to provide affordable housing as part of a development.

Learn more about section 173 in the Guide to Victoria’s Planning System

The Governor in Council Order (the Order) forms part of the definition of affordable housing under the Planning and Environment Act (the Act). The Order specifies the income ranges for very low, low and moderate income households for affordable housing that is not social housing.

Under the Act, social housing has the same meaning as in section 4(1) of the Housing Act. For information on income limits and eligibility for social housing please refer to housing.vic.gov.au

The Order will consist of two tables setting out income ranges for Greater Melbourne and the Rest of Victoria. The tables will include the following three household types:

  • Single adult
  • Couple, no dependant
  • Family (with one or two parents) with dependent children.

The Order will be published annually in the Government Gazette

The Order specifies the income ranges for very low, low and moderate income households for affordable housing as defined under the Planning and Environment Act 1987. The Order is only used for affordable housing that is not social housing.

Parties to a voluntary Affordable Housing Agreement would refer to the Order to determine income eligibility of individuals and households that the affordable housing is targeting when the affordable housing being negotiated is not social housing.

If the affordable housing being negotiated is social housing, parties to a voluntary Affordable Housing Agreement should refer to more information on housing.vic.gov.au

Parties to a voluntary Affordable Housing Agreement would refer to the Specified Matters Under Section 3AA(2) – Ministerial Notice (the Notice) when determining whether the affordable housing they are negotiating is appropriate for the needs of very low, low and moderate income households. The Notice is only used for affordable housing that is not social housing.

If the affordable housing being negotiated is social housing, parties to a voluntary Affordable Housing Agreement should refer to more information on social housing as an affordable housing contribution.

The Specified Matters Under Section 3AA(2) – Ministerial Notice is published in the Government Gazette.

Information about community housing and providers is available at housing.vic.gov.au

Registered housing agencies are not-for-profit organisations that provide affordable rental housing for low income households. They are registered under the Housing Act 1983 (the Act) as either housing associations or housing providers.

More information on registered housing agencies is available at housingregistrar.vic.gov.au

A list of Victorian housing providers that are registered under the Housing Act 1983 is available at housingregistrar.vic.gov.au