Tuesday, 9 April 2019

What do we mean by "shared rental lifestyle properties"?

Why rental properties?

Some are priced out of the property market

The simple fact of life in western economies, and particularly in Australia, is that property prices have outstripped incomes, meaning those on average and below average incomes are increasingly unable to purchase properties. Up to this point, no serious moves have been made or are promised by any political party to bring property prices back into alignment with incomes, so we have to sort it out for ourselves.

You can read this article to find out how and why mature "pink collar" women in particular are not only priced out of the market to buy a property, but are increasingly priced out of the market to rent a property. 

What you need to know about women’s homelessness: the shocking truth

Why shared rental properties?

Some are excluded from society

The number of good people living significantly below the poverty line is increasing at an alarming rate. Once a person is below the poverty line, they can no longer afford their housing costs, but also they can no longer afford to pay for entertainment and recreation.  They are increasingly marginalised from a world they can no longer afford to live in.

Some feel forced to share

Increasingly, those with mortgages or rents they can no longer afford find themselves offering a spare room in their house to a boarder.   They do not want to share and they do not like having someone else in their home.  Equally the person who has taken the room does not want to share but is homeless and so has to make the best of a bad thing.  Often the house is small, cramped, and is absolutely unsuitable for two independent mature adults to share.

This is where the trouble starts.  It is a recipe for disaster.  It is an ill thought out stop gap, a panic response, for a situation that is only going to get worse from here. Two strangers who know little about one another, who have no idea of their compatibility, move into the same house together because they are forced to.  Now who would imagine that could possibly work?  We need to escape from our panicked responses and rethink the whole notion of mature adults sharing a living space.  If we are caught in this situation we have to do it right.

Some want to share 

And some of us actually want to share.  We no longer want to live alone, we no longer want to struggle with poverty in isolation.  Marginalisation, particularly of mature women, is the norm, and it is a very uncomfortable place to live.  We want our personal space and privacy, but we also want to be part of a community.  We have realised that life without family and community is barely a life at all.  And if we have no natural family and no natural community we can afford to participate in, then we have to create it.

Why lifestyle properties?

We can choose to share a house, where we still have to deal with marginalisation outside the house, or we can choose to share a lifestyle property where we build a household and a lifestyle.

The house

The difference between sharing a house and sharing a lifestyle property is in the quality of house and property we choose to share.  The bigger the house and the better the property, the lower the cost per capita.  That is the first win.  We have more disposable income if we share a fabulous property - not less.  You can read how this works in the right hand column under the heading "A better way".

The property

Consider a house with 5 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms, 3 living areas and a large modern kitchen, situated on a property with a small commercial avocado orchard, raised garden beds with netting, and significant shedding, all for under $500.  Three people can share this property. Inside each will have their own bedroom and bathroom, with rooms to spare for hosting guests, as hobby rooms or office space.  Outside each has space to build some level of income - or just activity - from the gardens, the orchard and the shedding.  There is scope for everyone to have a healthy and busy lifestyle, and the activities provide the opportunity to engage with the local community through the sharing or selling of produce through markets and similar.

There are many other potential configurations depending on the property and the people.  This is just one example.

Sharing a house is just that, sharing a house, and solves no other problems.  Sharing a lifestyle property solves not only the need for housing, but can also provide for some companionship, some income and some engagement with the local community.  It is a win on all fronts.

The problem with renting - insecure tenure

We are stuck with renting.  We have no choice.  It is a given if we have no money and no way of generating enough money to ever purchase our own property.  However, it is possible to get long term leases and that is something we need to explore and improve on.

The risk of eviction

However the reality remains that we may, for no fault of our own, be evicted, and this is increasingly the case as owners are evicting good tenants for a myriad of reasons we do not need to go into here.  Suffice it to say that there is no such thing as a secure tenancy in Australia.  We have to learn to live with it.

But here is where sharing a lifestyle property and building our own community within that property, gives us another advantage.  If we are asked to move on, we are already a strong community and can move on together.  We have a track record as good tenants, so we will be able to find somewhere else, and we have the support of one another to manage a move.  Managing a move is never nice, but it is something we may be forced to do in any kind of property we rent, so we may as well take on the risk with a larger property through which we can build family and community.

So just how are we going to do this?

More on the how in later posts.