YWCA is celebrating one year of charitable property management service, Rentwell, which has seen 25 properties leased and 49 people in homes, and more than $80,000 in donations through rent reductions.
YWCA CEO Frances Crimmins said while they reached their first-year target of 25 properties, Rentwell needs more property owners to sign up to the service. Property owners lease their properties to YWCA for below 75% market rent, who then sub-lease to the tenant. Owners are eligible for a land tax exemption and receive a tax-deductible gift receipt from YWCA for the foregone rent.
“We don’t have any problem in leasing the majority of properties,” she said. “It’s about matching somebody to the right property, with an affordable rent. So a diversity of property is important.”
She says the majority of tenants are single-parent households with children, older women or two-parent households where one parent is unable to work. Often, tenants have been impacted by family violence and were “on a trajectory to homelessness”.
With a two-year goal of 80 properties and a three-year goal of 150, Ms Crimmins said now would be a great opportunity for property owners who have been in short-term rental market (e.g. Airbnb), to re-think how they rent out that property for a more long-term situation.
“Knowing you’re actually helping a fellow Canberran … you might find that you’re not so different in terms of your financial outcome.”
COVID-19 is expected to cause increased demand across the community sector. Anglicare’s rental affordability snapshot painted a grim picture for affordable rentals in Canberra, and Ms Crimmins said this is particularly concerning for those on increased income-support payments, that will eventually return to pre-virus rates.
“You might have a temporary higher income, that you could afford in a Rentwell property … but what happens when that ends?” she said.
While she stressed Rentwell is not a replacement for social housing, Ms Crimmins said the scheme “obviously” works. She said YWCA would like to see the ACT Government scrap the four-year pilot program, which has been extended from one year, and remove the cap that allows for only 100 properties to be rented out.
“[Rentwell should be] one of the Government’s ongoing strategies for providing affordable, private rental properties in the ACT,” she said.
“Anything that removes barriers and provides affordable rental options for Canberrans, now that we know there are none, is a win.”
For more information for property owners, visit the YWCA Canberra website.