Managing rental properties to protect renters and the surrounding community

Affordable housing can,  and in fact, must be innovative with its property management. There is a perception that some rental tenants are difficult to manage and represent a danger to the surrounding community. However, if the properties are well designed and a good management plan is put into place that risk can be mitigated.

Existing rental models

There are currently two main models for managing rental properties, neither of which has a good track record:

  • standard real estate property management, for which the selection criteria of tenants is based on:
    • Credit checks
    • Rental payment history
    • References etc
    • Income and employment verification
  • intentional communities, which have a variety of different models, commonly based on:
    • group values
    • ideology
    • consensus decision making etc

Despite the rigour of the real estate property management processes, they still fail in too many cases. Much of this may relate to their tendency to alienate renters by denying them security of tenure, denying them of any semblance of privacy or self-determination, and by imposing financially punitive rules that prevent tenants from turning their house into their home. These conditions can alienate the best of rental tenants over time.

With intentional communities, despite the good intentions of the intentional community models, they are equally prone to failure for a variety of reasons. (See Utopia Inc.)

Proposed rental model

We propose a number of points of difference from standard rental models.

Financial arrangements

  • Rental leases will be long-term, so that residents have the security of tenure they need to develop further that a sense of “ownership” over the property they are renting.
  • Rents will be set at rates that are “affordable” to Newstart recipients, Age and Disability pensioners, and those earning the National Minimum wage or less.
  • As rents are affordable for those on welfare benefits, their earning potential is not taken into account for eligibility for a tenancy, but their actual income does determine the rent they will pay.
  • As there is no financial reason for rental default, defaults will be investigated quickly but compassionately to establish the reason for the default and action that should be taken. This may result in eviction if the situation cannot be rectified.

Selection criteria and induction processes

Strict tenant selection criteria should be applied.  There is no doubt that there are some amongst the contingent of homeless or housing stressed that are undesirable neighbours.  This group should be identified and handled in a different way. This paper does not attempt to find a solution to how to house these people.

  • Prospective tenants will have to demonstrate their commitment to the “theme” of the property prior to being offered a tenancy. For example a property may have a “theme” of environmental and social sustainability with a commitment to energy/water efficiency, recycling/reusing, chemical free food production and the like. Only prospective tenants who can demonstrate a similar commitment will be offered a tenancy.
  • Prospective tenants will be asked to sign off to the standards being applied to that community.

Property design

  • There will be common areas, including gardens, orchard trees, car parking, and the like, appropriate to the theme of the development, that are maintained voluntarily by the residents supported by a permanent on-site manager.
  • There will be small and low maintenance private back yard areas so that those with health issues can enjoy outside privacy without excessive effort. These yards will also enable tenants to keep small pets.
  • All tenants will be provided with adequate storage areas so that there is no need to store personal items in backyard or common garden and parking areas.

Property management

  • There will be a manager for the property who will manage all common areas of the properties, such as meeting rooms, food gardens, orchard trees and the like.
  • The property manager will set high standards for the maintenance of common areas to which residents will be required to conform.
  • The property manager may also ask the residents to take more care of their private areas such as back yards if these are detracting from the overall quality of the neighbourhood.

Social harmony

Relationships can pose a problem when people are living in close proximity. Basic standards of respect for neighbours must be maintained. There will be standardised practices for communication/negotiation/conflict resolution in which the manager will receive explicit training, so that the manager is able to mediate difficulties based on the welfare of the entire community.

Community engagement

Whilst there is no requirement for community engagement, the options are there for those who want to take them up. Where possible there will be a community building for shared activities.

Sustainable living

Common and shared resources give residents the opportunity to connect, socialise, entertain and share resources with other residents if and when they choose.

2 thoughts on “Managing rental properties to protect renters and the surrounding community

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  1. Ah, interesting perceptions and misperceptions. Of course, I cannot say everything in one web page and this page is a summary of the management model only, not the community design, and not the costings. Did you read https://housing-alternatives.com/portfolio/what-is-the-money-used-to-build/. That is a summary of the community design including the demographic served. I have also, for obvious reasons, not included the costing on a web page, but the cost of the manager is costed in and is a viable expense. Simply by being efficient and removing middle men, we are keeping costs down compared to conventional housing models. Our full design proposal is underway but not yet ready for public consumption. You will have to wait for that to see the whole story in one long, boring document. These pages are just “teasers”.

  2. Interesting points. Some of it sounds much like retirement village living with community centre etc. Personally i think it would much better to leave the ‘compound’ and engage within the wider community…U3As, clubs, voluntary organisations and so on. The one stop shop of retirement and lifestyle villages don’t do it for me. Plus this adds to costs and im wondering who’ll pay for all of it if the occupants, like me, will be reliant on the pension. Having a manager will also add to the cost.

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