Not having a rental history is one of the hardest things for young people seeking to rent their first home. A new grass-roots housing initiative being rolled out in Shepparton is changing that and delivering a win:win for landlords and young people.

Cinnamon Brauman, Student Residency Officer at the Education First Youth Foyer for BeyondHousing; Michelle Bourke, Property Manager from Your Sold Real Estate and Matt Jobling, Transitional worker from Berry Street supported each other to come up with the initiative.

“When young people leave the Youth Foyer they are aware they have little hope of finding a suitable and affordable rental property,” Ms Brauman said.

The three were discussing these limited options and looking for a solution, Ms Bourke said.

“When Matt explained that once they move on, he continues to provide support to them for six months, I could see that would make landlords more open to giving young people their first lease,” Ms Bourke said.

Ms Bourke manages a property that has several one-bedroom units and approached the landlord with the idea of gradually making all the units available to young people from the Foyer as they were ready.

“Landlords are resistant to work with young people because they don’t have a rental history. I can remember when I tried to get my first rental as a 20-year-old and felt like the real estate agent was looking me over. When I started this job, I thought I would like to find a way to help make that transition easier and with Matt’s ongoing support, the landlord was very receptive,” she said.

Ms Brauman says that young people at the Foyer learn about their rental responsibilities while they are there, and room inspections are carried out every four weeks.

“We were excited when Michelle said she would ask her landlord as that expanded the chain of people that were prepared to give young people a chance. With services such as Centrepay, young people are great with rent, so the landlord knows he will be paid,” Ms Brauman said.

One of the young people to move from the Foyer to this block of units is Patrick.

“I had no idea how to move to a rental property. I didn’t have the resources to find furniture. The Foyer team helped with that and taught me what to do with my finances. Without them I wouldn’t have found this place,” Patrick said.

“It’s great to be living independently. I’d advise others to get to know their real estate agent and find a person to have in your corner.”

BeyondHousing CEO Celia Adams said with very limited suitable, affordable housing available for single people, including young people, this co-operative and supportive housing solution demonstrates what is possible when people want to support their communities.

“The Youth Foyer has invited real estate agents to tour the facility and understand how it operates. We are now hoping that Michelle’s example is something that resonates with other real estate agents and landlords who deal directly with tenants.

“If any landlords have properties available and would like to discuss options for supporting potential tenants, they can get in touch with us at BeyondHousing,” she said.

Nearly 50% of the 3600 people who sought help from BeyondHousing’s homelessness services last year were single.

“People who are living alone, on a low income or Newstart allowance find it almost impossible to pay market rent and still have money to live on,” Ms Adams said.