Affordable housing regulations
With the inclusion of affordable housing now a condition of new property development consents in Sydney under schemes such as the State Environmental Planning Policy No 70 and the National Rental Affordability Scheme, HomeGround Sydney is also partnering with developers and other real estate agents to manage these properties for them.
"Most real estate agents and developers are pretty reluctant to become community housing providers as it's quite a complex registration process with additional governance requirements," Livingstone explains. "In short, it’s not a step taken lightly. If they partner with us, however, we retain Bridge Housing’s not-for-profit, tier-one community housing status, which enables us to operate in this space and fill the gap."
Broad spectrum of tenants
HomeGround Sydney advertises on portals like any other real estate agency, but the affordable housing tenants applying need to meet strict housing affordability criteria.
"There are income bands and other forms of assessment to determine eligibility, but the general rule is tenants are not allowed to spend more than 30 per cent of their income on rent to make sure they still have money for household living and basic needs," says Livingstone.
"Because some suburbs in Sydney are now so expensive, you can be on a middle income and qualify for affordable housing simply because the cost of rent is just so high. So the eligibility criteria really covers a broad spectrum of people."
For Livingstone, a successful real estate agent who has worked for some of Australia’s leading real estate brands, the transition into a not-for-profit agency has been extremely rewarding. He’s now focused on growing his portfolio and offering a rental lifeline to the community of Sydney.
"I've always loved the property industry and having been in sales, property management and strata management, I can honestly say I feel like I'm doing something I can be proud of," he says. "It's never been about the personal financial gain for me. It's about being able to assist and guide people with their dreams, whether it's home ownership or securing a rental property."