6 May 2019

YWCA launches new property service to help ease rentals crisis

| Ian Bushnell
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Frances Crimmins, CEO of YWCA Canberra announcing Rentwell.

A new property management service that aims to provide affordable rental accommodation to people on low incomes opens its doors today.

YWCA Canberra will launch Rentwell, the first of its kind to take advantage of an ACT Government pilot program in which investment property owners can be exempt from land tax if they lease their properties through registered community housing providers at less than 75 per cent market rent.

2016 ACT Senior Woman of the Year Krishna Sadhana has signed up as the first Rentwell property owner because she knows what it’s like to do it tough.

“I have experienced domestic violence and lived in dire poverty especially when I was a single parent,” she said.

“I’m fortunate enough now to be able to give back. My partner and I are living our values by renting our investment property at below market rates through YWCA Canberra’s Rentwell initiative.

“We hope to provide secure affordable housing, and in our own small way, contribute towards the eradication of homelessness, which is achievable.”

Krishna Sadhana, ACT Senior Woman of the year offering the first property to Rentwell.

Chief Executive Officer of YWCA Canberra, Frances Crimmins, said that around the country and in Canberra, people on low incomes were experiencing a housing crisis.

She said there were virtually no affordable rental properties on offer and the competition for the few that existed was fierce.

An Anglicare snapshot had found that in Canberra, a couple with two children earning the minimum wage would find that not a single rental listing was affordable.

“We know that Canberrans are proud of our welcoming, inclusive culture and great quality of life,” she said.

“We’re excited that Rentwell provides investment property owners in the ACT with an 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.”

This year the ACT Government passed legislation to provide land tax exemptions for investment property owners who lease their properties through registered community housing providers at less than 75 per cent market rent.

The scheme is in place under a pilot program until 30 June 2021 and is capped to 100 properties across the ACT.

Under the Rentwell model property owners sign a head lease with YWCA Canberra, which means the organisation is responsible for ensuring rental income is paid. YWCA Canberra identifies suitable and eligible tenants and sub-leases the property at below 75 per cent market rate.

Property owners can then apply for a land tax exemption through the ACT Revenue Office and YWCA Canberra provides them with a tax-deductible gift receipt for any foregone rent (the gap between market rate and the discounted rate).

“If you own an investment property in the ACT and want to make a lasting difference in the life of a local older woman, single mum or dad, or a family, this is your opportunity,” Ms Crimmins said.

“Together, we can build stronger communities and make Canberra even more inclusive, fair and liveable for everyone.”

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Yeah I’ll knock 25% off rent for a $1200 or so saving. Not bloody likely.

Going to struggle to get any uptake on that.

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