ECHO is a community housing provider which manages 34 properties in the inner north of Canberra, with 39 separate tenancies or occupancies.
The ACT Government owns 33 of the ECHO properties and provides them to ECHO on a 6 + 5 year sublease up to 2023.
ECHO has been able to add one property to its community housing portfolio by purchasing a freestanding 3 bedroom house in inner north Canberra. This property is adjacent to another ECHO property and has excellent redevelopment potential.
ECHO is responsible for all property costs (land rates, water & sewerage rates, insurance, responsive & planned maintenance), and all employment and administrative costs of the Association.
ECHO retains all of the rent it collects and no funding is provided by the ACT Government or other sources.
ECHO provides all of its tenants with a rental rebate on current market rent
For “affordable” renters, rent after rebate is 70% of market rent (known as ‘ECHO’ rent) with provision to reduce rent to 50% of market rent, based on 30% of gross household income;
For “income-related” tenants, rent after rebate is 25% of gross household income (including Centrelink rent assistance);
Many of our “income related” tenants are actually paying “ECHO rent” or close to it, often because their financial position has improved as a consequence of obtaining appropriate rental housing with security of tenure.
The total market rent for ECHO properties is about $828,000 pa, and actual rent paid by ECHO tenants after rebates is $405,000 pa (an approximate 51% saving overall).
ECHO tenants have residential tenancy agreements under the Residential Tenancies Act 1997, and effectively have long-term security of tenure under ECHO’s tenancy policies and procedures.
The ACT Government owns the land title to the 33 properties subleased to ECHO, with no attached property costs, and has benefited from a very substantial increase in the value of the properties over the past 12 years of ECHO’s management.
ECHO is a registered Tier 3 provider under the National Regulatory System for Community Housing (NRSCH).
ECHO is an endorsed charity under the ACNC, has charitable tax status and is exempt from ACT taxes.
ECHO is an incorporated association in the ACT and, under its Rules, effectively operates as a cooperative governed by its tenant members.
Over 12 years, from 2007 to 2019, ECHO has developed a financially viable model of community housing focused on retaining housing stock for “social contributors” in the inner north of Canberra and improving the environmental quality of that housing.
ECHO has demonstrated that cooperative, tenant-managed housing provides a good option for tenants who want community involvement.