The National Rental Affordability Scheme (NRAS or the Scheme) is a partnership between the Australian Government and the States and Territories to invest in affordable rental housing.
The Scheme, which commenced in 2008, seeks to address the shortage of affordable rental housing by offering financial incentives to persons or entities such as the business sector and community organisations to build and rent dwellings to low and moderate income households at a rate that is at least 20 per cent below the market value rent.
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The National Rental Affordability Scheme (NRAS) was introduced in 2008 by the Federal Government. NRAS is designed to encourage investment in residential housing and allows tax free incentives from Federal, State and Territory Governments (currently $10,917) to be paid to the owner of the NRAS Property.
The NRAS payment increases in line with the rental component of CPI and is guaranteed every year for 10 years from first rental availability date, subject to compliance with the scheme.
There is a national consensus, based on independent evidence, that Australia has a serious housing supply shortfall and an ongoing affordability problem that is impacting lower and moderate income families and individuals in increasing numbers. NRAS has successfully stimulated supply and met its affordability target. There is no better and more tax effective way to meet this national challenge. NRAS is good for housing, good for low income earners, good for employment and good for tax payers.
NRAS was legislated after the National Housing Supply Council released its report on housing demand, supply and affordability over the next 20 years. The report highlighted the pressure on the private rental sector and identified several issues, including increasing rents and the difficulty of low to middle income households to access the private rental property and the reduced supply of social housing. The report identified several key issues in the housing industry, including:
The Council report estimated that by the end of 2013 there would be a shortfall in dwelling supply of 203,000 properties. The shortfall is expected to continue until 2028 when an increase in the supply of new homes will begin to meet future demand.
NRAS aims to:
NRAS investors can expect to benefit from the annual NRAS incentive – currently $10,919, rental yields and capital gains.
Independent financial modelling of the NRAS incentive shows it can provide market rates of return at levels that are strongly competitive with other asset classes. Compared with a conventional residential investment property, in certain markets the NRAS incentive can provide a better and even positive cash return to investors than the receipt of full market rent.
Approved NRAS investors will be eligible for tax free incentives not available to conventional individual residential property investors with each home attracting an annual NRAS incentive for up to 10 years.
Although you own the property, the tenant, the ATO and NRAS contribute towards your out of pocket costs for the first ten years.
The NRAS year operates as per the FBT year which runs from the 1st May to 30th April each year. The NRAS Incentive amount increases each year in line with the rental market CPI.
The NRAS Incentive is provided to you in part by the Federal Government via a refundable tax offset certificate and in part by the State Government via a cash payment.
Each NRAS year the federal government provides 75% of the incentive in the form of a refundable tax offset certificate. The Department of Social Services, the government department for NRAS, will issue a refundable tax offset (RTO) certificate once they have assessed the property as being complaint to the NRAS conditions. This process can take up to 6-9 months for the RTO to be issued. Once received you will need to claim the refundable tax offset certificate in your yearly tax return to receive the funds.
You do not need to have any taxable income to claim the refundable tax offset certificate from the tax office.
The state government contribution provided each year under the scheme is equal to 25% of the incentive and is made as a cash payment. The state contribution is generally issued within 2-6 weeks of the federal government issuing the RTO certificate.
To be eligible to receive the full NRAS incentive payment your property needs to meet the NRAS conditions, as below, throughout the NRAS year. The Department of Social Services, the government department for NRAS, will review each property and associated documents each and every year to ensure compliance is met, prior to approving and issuing any payments.
NRAS rental homes are available to low and moderate income Australians – people who may find it hard to pay market rental rates.
Your property must only be tenanted by tenants that meet the NRAS eligibility criteria. The eligibility criteria for an NRAS tenant is based on the gross household income of all occupants. Your property manager will be required to assess potential tenant’s income against the lower income limit by sighting proof of income documents prior to offering them a lease.
After the tenant has been in the property for 12 months the income limit increases by 25% called the upper income limit.
The tenants will need to provide proof of their income and complete a tenant demographic assessment form (TDA) every 12 months that they are in the dwelling.
An essential requirement of the NRAS scheme is that the rent charged to your tenants should be set at or below 80% of the market at all times.
The market rent is determined by an independent valuation which is conducted at the commencement of the NRAS terms and prior to the start of years 5 and 8. In all other years the market rent is increased by the rental CPI rate based off of the capital city of the state or territory.
Provided the rent is at or below 80% of the market rent at all times you can increase and decrease the rent as you please provided it is permitted under the relevant states tenancies act and provided it is supported by publically available data for comparable rental properties in the area.
To be eligible for the full NRAS incentive payment your property should not be vacant for more than 91 days (3 months). If your property is vacant for 92 days or more, but less than 162 days, you will receive a pro-rated incentive payments based on the number of days that your property was actually tenanted.
If your property is vacant for 162 days (6 months) or more, you will not be eligible for any incentive payment for that NRAS year.
If any of the above conditions are not met your NRAS incentive payment may be severely impacted.
For examples. If the market rent on your property was $300.00 per week however you were charging $241.00 per week you would be non-complaint to the market rent conditions as $241.00 equates to 80.3% of the market rent.
For every day that the rent is in excess of 80%, no incentive payment will be payable. If this occurred for the duration of a full 12 month lease you may not receive any incentive payment for the year.
In effect a $1.00 per week error in a rent calculation totalling $52.00 over the year, could equate to the loss of the full $10,919.00 incentive payments.
The current annual NRAS incentive payment is $11,192.00.
This amount is indexed each year based on the average rental CPI rate across all capital cities.
|Start Date||End Date||NRAS Value|
The table below shows the NRAS market index for each NRAS year (i.e. the maximum rent increase), for each state and territory in Australia. These rates always take effect from the anniversary date for each property and apply for all years except for years 1, 5 and 8 which require an independent valuation to be conducted. These figures are based on the rental CPI rate for the state capital city.
|Start Date||End Date||ACT||NT||NSW||QLD||SA||TAS||VIC||WA|
The table below shows the income limits for initial tenant eligibility, and the loading percentage used to calculate the upper income limits for maintaining eligibility.
The tenant eligibility limits are indexed in accordance with the NRAS tenant income index* on 1 May each year, rounded to the next whole dollar.
|First Time Tenants||Existing Tenants|
|Start Date||End Date||First Adult||First Sole Parent||Additional Adult||Each child||First Adult||First Sole Parent||Additional Adult||Each child|