Managing tenancies through mental health
6 September 2018
Property managers have an interesting role. They act as intermediaries between two parties and are responsible for smooth and successful tenancies.

Achieving harmony between landlord and tenant requires focus, dedication, understanding and exceptional communication. This is especially important when managing tenancies involving mental illness, domestic violence or financial instability.

Illness, instability and violence

According to the 2007 National Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing by the Australian Bureau of Statistics, 45 per cent of Australians will experience a mental health disorder at some point during their lifetime. 

White Ribbon reports that domestic and family violence is the principal cause of homelessness for women and children, and The Salvation Army’s 2017 Economic Social Impact Survey reveals 66 per cent of Australians surveyed are living in extreme housing stress.

For these reasons, the NSW Department of Family and Community Services Central Coast District held a Tenancy Management Workshop in early August.

Over 30 property managers attended the workshop which provided practical information on how to recognise and assist tenants experiencing mental illness, domestic violence or financial stress.

Tracey Williams, Youth Private Rental Subsidy Project Officer for the Central Coast District, coordinated the event in partnership with Uniting and the Central Coast Local Health District. 

We caught up with Tracey to find out why it’s so important for property managers to be award of mental health issues, domestic violence and financial instability.

Becoming aware

“It’s very important that property managers are aware of social issues within our community,” says Williams. “It’s vital they improve their knowledge and understand indicators that may alert them to a problem.

“One in five Australians are affected by mental illness and 6.2 per cent of the population are affected by mood disorders. Key findings show how violence against women impacts the home, workplace and wider community. 

“Increased knowledge and understanding will assist property managers to access appropriate services for their tenants or direct them to support services when issues arise. 

“Supporting tenants to sustain tenancies will decrease homelessness, provide support to the tenant and decrease re-let costs for the agent and landlord.”

Agents contributing to a more productive and stable community

“The private sector market is important to supporting the NSW Government’s Future Directions for Social Housing – a vision that reduces homelessness and provides more housing and support in the private rental market,” continues Williams.

“The NSW Government will work collaboratively with the private sector and the not-for-profit sector to create a social housing system that is sustainable and responsive. 

“The real estate industry can work in collaboration with the NSW Government to support and sustain tenancies. 

“Improved relationships with property managers will increase knowledge about services that can assist their business practices. Prospective tenants will have better opportunity and access to finding a private rental property and improved experiences when dealing with agents.”

A wanted and needed change

“The property managers who attended the workshop agreed it assisted them in better understanding mental illness and social disadvantage,” says Williams. 

“They’ve said they now feel confident when assisting tenants at risk and can make the appropriate referral to support services for help. The workshop has improved relationships with property managers and referrals have already been made to Uniting to support tenants that are at risk. 

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