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How your holiday rental could help the South Coast rebuild

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Want to help those affected by the South Coast bushfires? Here’s one simple way. 

After the horror road crash that occurred on the Kings Highway before Christmas 2017, Alanna Davis and her young son TJ never expected so much love and support from the Braidwood and South Coast communities, where her family has had a holiday property for close to 20 years.

Now it’s the family’s turn to give back—to bushfire affected families who no longer have a home to call their own.

The Davis’s have just put their property at Maloneys Beach up for rent for two years through Harcourts Batemans Bay.

“Canberrans threw their support behind us after that day that left us in despair,” says Alanna. “But so did the South Coast and Braidwood communities which we consider family.”

“Many people provided, and continue to provide, emotional, practical and financial support. It only makes sense that we now help others in desperate need get their lives back on track.”

For the Davis’s, renting their fully furnished property to a family left with nothing after the devastating fires is about getting involved and helping the South Coast get through the time consuming and tough rebuilding phase.

“Giving up weekend jaunts to the coast and a couple of major holiday stints is the least we can do,” says Alanna. “There are so many ways for Canberrans to get involved and this is one way. It’s such a small price to pay.”

TJ and Alanna on the beach.

Alanna and her family were at their beloved Maloneys Beach holiday home but evacuated after New Year’s because the smoke was exacerbating her father’s and TJ’s health.

“We can usually see Bateman’s Bay from the beach but all we could see was a dark and foreboding sky,” says Alanna.

View from Maloneys Beach to Batemans Bay on New Year’s Eve.

Dene Lewthwaite, Director of Harcourts Batemans Bay, says some areas of the South Coast were already facing an accommodation shortage before the fires. Now the matter is worse.

“People can’t begin to piece their lives back together while living in cramped emergency or temporary accommodation,” says Dene, who has more than 19 years in the real estate industry.

“They need a proper home over 12 to 18 months which is how long it’s going to take to get through the process of cleaning up, dealing with insurance companies, planning and then rebuilding. Long-term housing means families can get into routines—including kids—and focus on next steps.”

Dene should know. In 2003 he was living in Canberra when the fires ripped through the capital. He saw then how quickly long-term accommodation became a great need.

“We’re encouraging all Canberrans who have vacant holiday homes—or homes they rarely use at the coast—to rent them to evacuees at current market rates,” says Dene. “The last thing evacuees need is hiked-up rental prices.”

Eurobodalla Shire Council Mayor Liz Innes has been on social media saying that this is a practical way for Canberrans to support the local community they’ve already invested in—something Canberrans can do right now to ensure South Coast residents don’t have to leave the area and can instead stay and rebuild.

Dene Lewthwaite, Director of Harcourts Batemans Bay with Property Manager Sandra Nascimento at the Bay on a very hazy day.

While figures continually shift, the New South Wales Rural Fire Service has confirmed that more than 2,000 homes have been destroyed this fire season, with many more badly damaged.

Harcourts Batemans Bay is keen to give back too, offering Canberrans who have a holiday rental property they can release for the long-term—from The Bay down to Tuross Heads—a 20 per cent reduction on management fees.

“It’s one way we can say thanks,” says Dene. “We’re also donating 20 per cent of all letting fees and commissions made on new properties to the NSW Rural Fire Service and Wires Australian Wildlife Rescue Organisation for the next 12 months.”

Dene urges Canberrans to protect their properties by renting them through a professional, registered and fully licensed property management firm.

“You want to make sure you have the right tenant for your property, which involves rigorous vetting of applications,” says Dense. “There are bonds to secure, paperwork to be completed and ongoing property management too.”

For Alanna and her family, releasing their holiday home for two years isn’t about the money—it’s about doing the right thing by the South Coast they’ve grown to love over two decades.

“There are hundreds of displaced people, with some even living in sheds,” says Alanna. “Canberra is a generous community—my family saw that after our crash and it’s something we’ll never forget. Now it’s our turn, in our own small way, to lend support.”

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