Specialist Disability Accommodation

The Specialist Disability Accommodation funding arrangements under the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) are complicated and it’s important for you to undertake your own due diligence. The NDIS Price Guide for SDA is a key document about Specialist Disability Accommodation (SDA) and includes detailed information about requirements of SDA providers and properties. This document is updated regularly and can be found on the SDA Pricing and Payments webpage.

Detailed below is some general information about SDA. You can also visit Summer Foundations FAQs for SDA Providers

For some participants of the NDIS, the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) will fund Specialist Disability Accommodation (SDA). SDA refers to accommodation for people who require specialist housing solutions. Funding is only provided to a small proportion of NDIS participants with extreme functional impairment or very high support needs who meet specific eligibility criteria.

SDA funding under the NDIS will stimulate investment in the development of new high-quality dwellings for use by eligible NDIS participants. SDA funding is not support services, but is instead for the homes in which these services are delivered.

The SDA policy was initially outlined in the ‘Specialist Disability Accommodation: Decision Paper on Pricing and Payments’ released on 1 June 2016 and the more practical application of SDA is defined within the NDIS SDA Rule that was first published in March 2017, updated July 2018.

The current set of documents that describe requirements for SDA provision are found at the SDA Pricing and Payments webpage:

It’s a good idea to monitor content on this page as new information and publications about SDA are added to the website routinely.

Resources

Disability Services Consulting published a checklist with the key actions that organisations should consider and take along the SDA journey. You can find the checklist here.

Information about registering as an SDA provider can be found at the NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission website; this website has a helpful information pack available for new providers registering with the NDIS.

All NDIS service providers and staff (even if not registered) must comply with the NDIS Code of Conduct. Registered providers of SDA must comply with the NDIS Practice Standards (core module and SDA module).

The NDIA recently published a new SDA Design Standard which will come into full effect in 2021.

Some useful resources that detail design standards and other information about developing and managing SDA housing:

If you have specific questions about designing SDA you should speak with an access consultant / NDIS SDA Assessor. You can find an access consultants via the Association of Consultants in Access Australia website.

If you’re considering building or investing in Specialist Disability Accommodation the resources on the Summer Foundation website may help:

Summer Housing is looking to partner with governments, community housing providers and other critical stakeholders to grow the housing market. We are also looking to partner with developers who can incorporate our off-the-plan ‘10+1’ model, either through acquisition or head lease arrangement.

As part of our initial considerations, we typically look for projects that can achieve the following:

  • No less than 75 residential apartments (BCA Class 2),
  • Under construction
  • Project is situated within 800m of accessible public transport (preferably rail or accessible light rail),
  • Project has good amenity and enhanced features for residents,
  • Livable Housing Australia (LHA) Platinum Design Stage Certification and As-Built Certification,
  • Disability (Access to Premises - Buildings) Standards 2010,
  • Size of apartments no less than 65sqm with no less than 1 bedroom,
  • Fire sprinklers provided, and
  • Two passenger lifts servicing each apartment floor.
  • If you have a project that meets the above criteria, please send through details of the development to info@summerhousing.org.au

Public tours and open days will be held once COVID19 restrictions have eased.

You can register your interest here.

It is very difficult to estimate detailed demand for SDA in particular locations. It is important to note that the NDIA determines who actually gets funded for SDA.

The Summer Foundation has published two reports about SDA supply and demand, based on modelling and surveys - SDA Market Insights and SDA Supply in Australia.

The NDIA publishes limited information about the number of NDIS participants with SDA funding in their Quarterly Reports. You can find the Quarterly Reports on the NDIA website here (Go to Appendix O).

The published data from the NDIA does not provide information about which SDA design categories participants have been funded for. Furthermore, it is assumed most participants reported by the NDIA as having SDA funding are living in existing SDA - generally group homes from the pre-NDIS system. This data therefore has some limitations when assessing new demand for SDA and type of demand.

The SDA Appendix of the Quarterly Report also publishes data about enrolled SDA dwellings, but this excludes most government-owned SDA dwellings to date.

New financing models have been created around the SDA payments system. Whether you’re looking into one of these or leveraging a more traditional financing option for your investment in SDA, the resources below might help:

We are investing in Specialist Disability Accommodation for our own purposes and we are unlikely to be selling any of the apartments in the near term.

Summer Housing engages the Summer Foundation’s Tenancy Matching Service to find eligible tenants for our pipeline projects.

If you are a prospective tenant and have questions about SDA eligibility or how to apply for a Summer Housing tenancy, please contact the Tenancy Matching Team at newbuild@thehousinghub.org.au or on 0438 999 044.

Applications for tenancy are made via The Housing Hub. To apply, visit our Leasing Availability webpage and click on the project you would like to apply. You will be redirected to The Housing Hub where you can begin the application process.

The NDIA’s Terms of Business sets out how the Reasonable Rent Contribution (RRC) is calculated:

If the participant receives the Disability Support Pension (DSP), the RRC to be paid by a participant must not exceed an amount that is:

  • 25% of the basic rate of the DSP;
  • Plus 25% of any pension supplement received;
  • Plus 100% of any Commonwealth Rent Assistance (CRA), if the SDA tenant receives CRA.

If the participant does not receive the Disability Support Pension, the RRC must not exceed an amount which is:

  • 25% of the basic rate of the DSP;
  • Plus 100% of any Commonwealth Rent Assistance (CRA), if the SDA tenant receives CRA.

The “basic rate of the DSP” is the amount under the Social Security Act 1991 that is the maximum basic rate for a person who is not under 21 and not a member of a couple.

At Summer Housing, we believe in charging reasonable rent based on individual circumstances.


To alleviate rental stress, rent is calculated at:

  • 25% of your fortnightly income (currently capped at a maximum of $860.60 per fortnight);
  • Plus 25% of any pension supplement received;
  • Plus 100% of any Commonwealth Rent Assistance (CRA) received.


To help you prepare for your move, try our SDA Rent Calculator

The Housing Hub is a web-based information platform connecting people with disability who are seeking housing from housing providers with housing vacancies in Victoria, NSW, ACT, Queensland and South Australia. The Housing Hub listings will soon expand to other states.

The Housing Hub covers both SDA and non-SDA disability housing. Housing seekers can browse properties listed on the website, and directly contact housing providers when they find a property they are interested in.

Investors, builders and owners of SDA dwellings don't necessarily need to be registered as an SDA provider themselves. The SDA provider is the formal service provider under the NDIS and is responsible for compliance with all mandatory SDA requirements (refer “What is SDA” for key documents).

Head-leasing to a registered provider is permitted under Section 7.18 of the SDA Rule

“The registered provider must not enrol a dwelling that is not owned by the registered provider unless the owner of the dwelling has acknowledged in writing that the dwelling is to be enrolled as SDA and that the owner has not separately enrolled the dwelling as SDA.”

All NDIS Providers and Workers (even if not registered) must comply with the NDIS Code of Conduct. Registered Providers of SDA must comply with the NDIS Practice Standards (SDA module). More information about registering as an SDA provider can be found at the NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission website

A list of all registered SDA providers is available on the NDIS website.

Note that the registered SDA provider list includes all organisations and individuals who have registered as an SDA provider, even if they have no SDA stock and are not actively providing services. This means that many on the SDA registered provider list may not be currently providing SDA, and may not do so in the future.

The NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission publishes a searchable register of registered NDIS providers.

All SDA dwellings must be enrolled with the NDIS. Please see the NDIA website for more information: SDA Registration and Dwelling Enrolment.

The SDA Price Guide is essential reading about SDA requirements, how SDA payment works, price lists for “new” and “established” SDA dwellings and the assumptions used to derive the SDA prices.

The NDIA recently published a new SDA Design Standard which will come into full effect in 2021.

Some useful resources that detail design standards and other information about developing and managing SDA housing:

It’s a good idea to do your own internet search for access consultants near you. However, some experienced access consultants we’re aware of include:

Individual consultants:

  • Ian Scutts from Ausability
  • Francis Lenny from DDA consult
  • Ashleigh Gray from DDC Group
  • Steve Vandenberg from Starliner Access Designs
  • Aja Goddard from BCA Access

Larger firms:

The NDIS Price Guide is an important reference document about provision of SDA. The SDA Rules set out the requirements for SDA to be eligible for funding. Sections 6.14 to 6.17 set out the details about density restrictions (p. 28):

Section 6.15 of the Rule states that: “if any of the dwellings on the parcel of land is enrolled to house three or more residents, then the density restriction is satisfied if the number of participants with SDA in their plan who reside in a dwelling on the parcel and receive SDA funding is no more than the greater of:

(a) 10; and

(b) 10% of the total number of residents capable of residing on the parcel, assuming one resident per bedroom”.

Section 6.16 of the Rule states that: “if all of the dwellings that are enrolled on the parcel are enrolled to house only one or two residents per dwelling, then the density restriction is satisfied if the number of participants with SDA in their plan who reside in a dwelling on the parcel and receive SDA funding is no more than the greater of:

(a) 15; and

(b) 15% of the total number of residents capable of residing on the parcel, assuming one resident per bedroom”.

If you are the registered SDA provider, you must understand and comply with all requirements for SDA providers, including the NDIS Practice Standards (SDA Module). You should consider obtaining specialist advice from an SDA or access consultant on your development plans, to ensure your project is compliant with all NDIS requirements and reflects best practice design.

The NDIS Practice Standards specify the quality standards to be met by registered NDIS providers to provide supports and services to NDIS participants. Together with the NDIS Code of Conduct, the NDIS Practice Standards build NDIS participants’ awareness of what quality service provision they should expect from registered NDIS providers.

The SDA Module within the NDIS Practice Standards (p. 38) applies to registered providers and states that “each participant’s right to exercise choice and control over other NDIS support provision is not limited by their choice of SDA dwelling”.

To achieve this outcome, SDA providers should ensure that:

“The participant is supported to understand the distinction between the provision of SDA and other NDIS supports delivered in the dwelling. Where an SDA provider is delivering both SDA and other NDIS supports to the same participant, there are separate service agreements.” (p.38)

• “The participant’s housing rights, including security of tenure, are upheld, irrespective of any decision/s the participant makes about the provision of other NDIS supports within the SDA dwelling (notwithstanding any matters covered by the SDA service agreement)” (p. 39)

The Summer Foundation developed a Separating Housing and Support Services Toolkit to assist organisations to separate their housing and support services.