Working together to prevent eviction

“I treat people the way I like to be treated. I do understand things happen – relationship breakdowns, domestic violence, job losses, ill health – and through no fault of your own. I’ve also experienced tough times.”

Janine Ringiao from Devonport is one of an increasing number of property managers collaborating with Anglicare’s Housing Connect to support tenants who have fallen behind with their rent payments. Anglicare can link people with a range of useful services including financial counselling.

“If people don’t keep up with the rent they will lose their tenancy,” said Ms Ringiao, “and that will end up costing them more money. So I make sure people understand paying the rent is very important. And I let them know there are services out there that can help them through tough times.”

Another North West property manager, William Faulkner also refers tenants to Anglicare. “As a property manager it’s important for me to do everything I can to keep people in their homes,” he said.

“Sometimes tenants have difficulty paying the rent. Mostly this is because they are distracted by other issues in their lives. For example, I had a tenant who was a single father. He was so concerned about looking after his kids he chose to ignore he was falling behind with the rent. He didn’t understand the seriousness,” said Mr Faulkner. “But being behind in the rent is a big problem. Some tenants don’t appreciate real estate agencies don’t own the properties. We represent landlords and we have to act on their instructions. Without services like Housing Connect to refer tenants to for help, we end up having to proceed with an eviction process. When this happens, not only do tenants lose their homes but they also reduce their chances of finding another place to live. When we are contacted by other real estate agencies to find out what the tenants were like – we have to tell them about evictions.”

Mr Faulkner said proceeding with an eviction was not in the interests of real estate agencies or landlords. “The eviction process is time consuming and costly. We generally use up most of the bond to pay for cleaning once a tenant has moved out. And with tenants on low incomes, we have no real chance in recovering all arrears in rent. Landlords lose this income and as real estate agencies, we lose our commissions,” he explained.

Property managers say the early referral of tenants to Housing Connect increases the likelihood of a good outcome. “Our shared aim is to keep households in the private rental market before a crisis is reached,” said Anglicare’s Liz Leslie. “We work with real estate agencies to identify tenants who are falling behind with their rent and encourage them to refer these people to our services.”

Housing Connect also supports people walking through the front door seeking assistance to find a place to rent.

“Many people coming to Housing Connect just need help navigating the private rental system. Some of them have been long term renters, for ten or even fifteen years. With a tightening private rental market – for reasons including the rise of short term tourism accommodation – they are being forced to find new housing but are not familiar with having to apply for properties on-line.”

“Also – younger people on Newstart or Youth Allowance are finding it very difficult to compete with working couples even though they join together to set up share houses to more comfortably cover the costs.”

As well as reduced availability, the competitive rental market has also resulted in rising rents, forcing people to over-extend their budget.

“Historically people were allocating about thirty percent of their incomes towards rent,” said Liz. “Now we are regularly seeing people paying over fifty percent. And sometimes significantly more. Tenants are over-committing themselves financially. As we review household budgets as part of providing support, we often recommend to people they take advantage of Anglicare’s financial counselling services.”

Next week is Homelessness Week across Australia. Anglicare is proud to be involved in a number of activities to raise wider awareness of homelessness in Tasmania.  Here is the public Calendar of Events

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