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Meet Rentwell: Canberra’s first charitable property management service

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This pressure has a significant effect on women, and older women, in particular.

It is single, older women who now represent the fastest growing group of Australians experiencing housing stress and homelessness. In 2016-17 the number of older women seeking housing assistance increased by 18%. And we know 55% of female homeowners who leave their home because of domestic violence become homeless in 12 months.

With the affordability of privately leased rentals continuing to be out of reach for many in our community, and our social housing system no longer providing a credible alternative to the private rental market for lower income earners, what are the alternatives to reducing and preventing homelessness?

It’s no secret that YWCA Canberra has been a long-time advocate for best practice and gender-responsive housing solutions which address the needs of women in the ACT and beyond.

This year YWCA Canberra celebrates its 90th anniversary. For almost seventy of those years, it has provided housing services to Canberrans, with a focus on women and families, who are at particular risk of homelessness and housing stress. And so now YWCA Canberra has launched Rentwell, the ACT’s first charitable property management service, to provide affordable rental accommodation to Canberrans on low incomes.

Rentwell leverages private housing investment to provide affordable rental housing and reduce pressure on social housing.

Property investors who are philanthropically inclined can list their home through YWCA Canberra’s Rentwell program and contribute to the pool of affordable housing options.

This new approach allows property owners who lease their properties as part of a community housing portfolio to claim tax concessions through land tax reduction and also claim the reduced portion of rental income as a charitable donation.

This means property owners can directly help to improve housing affordability and rental supply in our community, by assisting families and older women to find a home.

For property investment owners, Rentwell presents a unique opportunity to change someone’s life in a tangible and powerful way.

Having affordable and secure housing gives people a chance to get their lives back on track and allows kids to form secure relationships at home, at school and in the community.

How Rentwell works

  1. Property owners sign a head lease with YWCA Canberra, for 75 per cent of market rate or below, in line with community housing
  2. YWCA Canberra is responsible for ensuring rental income is paid to the property owner.
  3. YWCA Canberra identifies suitable and eligible tenants and sub-leases the property.
  4. Property owners apply for a land tax exemption through the ACT Revenue Office.
  5. YWCA Canberra provides property owners with a tax-deductible gift receipt for any foregone rent (the gap between market rate and the discounted rate).

The development of Rentwell is an impressive example of women helping women. Innovation has always been at the heart of YWCA Canberra’s programs and their housing solutions are no exception.

The majority of corporate supporters who worked side by side with YWCA Canberra to establish Rentwell were women, all committed to finding a new solution to solve this pressing social issue.

And Krishna Sadana, 2016 ACT Senior Woman of the Year, was the first to sign her investment property over to the care of YWCA Canberra in support of ending homelessness. Krishna acknowledges she’s fortunate enough to be able to give back and is proud to be living her values by renting her investment property at below market rates, because she wants to be part of the solution.

Krishna Sadana.

Rentwell provides an immediate impact on people experiencing housing stress and it will change lives for the better. Canberrans who are struggling to afford market rents, but who earn too much to be eligible for other forms of housing support will have access to viable, long-term housing options.

Rentwell provides people who own an investment property in the ACT with an opportunity to change someone’s life in a tangible and powerful way.

While effective crisis emergency housing responses are important, a solid supply of affordable housing options will significantly reduce the number of people become homeless in the first place.

It is the now up to property investors across Canberra to join with YWCA Canberra and take a powerful step towards ending homelessness in our city.

If you own an investment property and want to make a lasting difference in the life of a local older woman, single mum or dad, or a family, the social return on your investment through Rentwell cannot be underestimated.

Find out more via the website for by emailing rentwell@ywca-canberra.org.au.

HerCanberra is a proud supporter of YWCA Canberra.

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