FAQs

General Information

Click or press on the questions below to reveal the answers.

Q. What is Homes for Older Women (HOW)?

HOW is a program launched by the Older Women’s Network (OWN) Blue Mountains to address housing insecurity for women aged 55+.

We connect women in the Blue Mountains with compassionate property owners who have a vacant granny flat, home, apartment or a bedroom for rent at an affordable price.

Q. I am currently renting a property. Can I apply to rent out a spare room or self-contained accommodation where I am living?

Our program is set up to connect property owners with accommodation seekers, however, we will consider sub-lease arrangements in certain cases, if the homeowner is on board.

Q. What is affordable accommodation? How much rent should be charged?

Affordable accommodation is priced so people can afford other basic living costs such as food, clothing, transport, medical care and education. As a general guide, housing is usually considered affordable if it costs less than 30% of gross household income.

Rent will be agreed upon between the homeowner and homeseeker, based on individual income and circumstances.

Q. What are the benefits for homeowners and women seeking accommodation connecting through the HOW program versus going through a real estate agent or share accommodation platforms?

There are benefits to both homeowners and homeseekers from being involved in the HOW program.

Benefits for homeowners include:

  • You will be earning rental income at the same time as addressing one of society’s major challenges – housing insecurity and stress for women aged 55+.
  • Our service is free and we are well connected within the community. We will usually be able to find suitable tenants without the need for you to advertise.
  • We will strive to only connect you with homeseekers whose needs match your accommodation offering.
  • You will have the opportunity to meet up with your potential tenant, chat and decide between yourselves if you feel the arrangement will work.
  • For accommodation within homes, there is the opportunity for companionship.

Benefits for homeseekers include:

  • Women aged 55+ who are finding it difficult to enter or remain in the private rental market will be connected with compassionate homeowners who are willing to provide affordable accommodation.
  • Our service is free and we are well connected within the community. We will often secure properties as part of our program that are not advertised via traditional real estate platforms.   
  • You will be connected with homeowners who match your needs, as closely as possible e.g. accessibility features, pets welcome.
  • For accommodation within homes, there is the opportunity for companionship.

Q: What if the arrangement doesn’t work out for the homeowner, homeseeker or both parties?

In the case of self-contained accommodation (exclusively used by the tenant), both parties may consider entering into a Residential Tenancy Agreement.

The NSW Department of Fair Trading has helpful information regarding ending a residential tenancy: www.fairtrading.nsw.gov.au

For accommodation within homes – that is not exclusively used by the tenant – both parties may consider writing down home guidelines that are agreed to by both parties before the share arrangement commences.

This will help manage expectations e.g. whether bills for utilities and streaming services will be included in the rent; whether food and cooking expenses will be shared or separate; cleaning duties etc. HOW information kits for confirmed accommodation providers and tenants provide helpful discussion prompts.

OWN NSW and OWN Blue Mountains simply provide a connection service and disclaim any liability to homeseekers and homeowners providers.

Q: How do I learn more about the HOW program?

You can find out more by exploring our site further or please contact us:

HomeOWNERS’ ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

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Q. I’m interested in finding out more about what’s involved in renting out my vacant self-contained accommodation or spare bedroom. What’s the next step?

Please fill out our Homeowner Expression of Interest Form and we will contact you to answer your questions and provide additional information. Feel free to also contact our team direct on 0493 965 190.

If you would like a hardcopy version of the form posted to you, email how@ownnsw.org.au or phone 0493 965 190.

If I’m seeking to rent out a bedroom in my home, are there guidelines for who can reside at the home?

If the accommodation is not self-contained, our preference is for adult female households only to participate in the HOW program. There may be exceptions, depending on the accommodation and individual circumstances.

Q: If my vacant accommodation seems a good fit for the HOW program, what happens next?

The steps are as follows:  

  1. A HOW team member will arrange a convenient time to meet with you at your property. If your vacant accommodation is at a separate location e.g. vacant home/apartment/holiday rental, we will meet you there, if convenient.
  2. We will chat with you and answer any questions you may have. We will view the accommodation to make sure it is suitable for our program.
  3. If it fits within the HOW criteria and you are interested in participating, a HOW team member will fill in the Homeowner Application Form at the property. Alternatively, we can leave a hardcopy form with you to fill out later. If we require further information, we will contact you.

Q: I have been approved as a HOW home provider and I’m keen to proceed. What happens now?

We will add you to our database of home providers and supply you with a HOW Home Provider Support Kit. This will detail how the program works, next steps and helpful online links.

We will see if there are currently any homeseekers on our database who would be suitable to apply for the accommodation you are providing. Location, style of accommodation (room versus self-contained), general rental price range etc. will be taken into account, as well as preferences (non-smoker, pet allowed/disallowed etc). If there are no suitable homeseekers, we will promote the opportunity.

Q: What happens if there are one or more accommodation seekers on your database who are suitable to apply?

We will let you know some basic information about the homeseekers e.g. maximum rent they are able to pay, accommodation needs etc.

If you would like to proceed, we will contact the homeseeker/s to gain permission to share their contact details with you.

We encourage you to separately meet with each potential tenant at the location of the accommodation and have a chat. This is an opportunity for you both to ask questions and get to know each other, particularly if the accommodation you are providing is within your home.

Q: I have met with my potential tenant and I would like to offer her my accommodation. What’s next?

The HOW Accommodation Provider Information Kit will include helpful information and advice regarding next steps including advising the HOW team you would like to proceed and offering the tenancy to the accommodation seeker.    

Q: Does home insurance cover my tenant?

We suggest that you contact your home and contents insurance provider to discuss your individual needs and requirements.

Q: Do I need to declare my rental income to the Australian Tax Office, even if I’m just renting out a room.

You may want to consult your accountant to discuss your individual situation, including possible claims for associated expenses and any capital gains tax implications and deductions.

Q: Will my rental income affect my Centrelink payment?

Funds you receive from renting out your accommodation, including a bedroom within your home, may be considered income. Contact Services Australia to discuss any changes in your circumstances. 

HOMESEEKERS’ ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

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Q: What requirements do I need to meet to be supported by the HOW program to find affordable accommodation?

The following are some of the things we take into account when assessing your eligibility to participate in the HOW program. We acknowledge everyone’s individual circumstances are different and we offer some flexibility.

  1. You are a woman aged 55 or older experiencing housing insecurity.
  2. You are an Australian citizen or have permanent residency in Australia.
  3. You currently live in the Blue Mountains Local Government Area or have lived here previously before your circumstances changed. Alternatively, you may be living elsewhere but have strong ties to the Blue Mountains community e.g. you want to be closer to family.
  4. Your income is very low or low. Paying market rent leaves you with housing stress and insufficient funds to adequately pay for other basic living costs such as food, clothing, transport and medical care. A change in your life may have impacted your financial circumstances e.g. the loss of a job, separation from a partner, the death of a partner, retirement without sufficient funds.
  5. You have a moderate income but cost-of-living pressures make it difficult for you to keep paying your current rent or securing a rental property. Alternatively, even if you have sufficient funds, the shortage of suitable rental properties leaves you without stable accommodation e.g. You may be couch surfing with family and friends or undertaking pet sitting arrangements.

Q: I seem to be eligible for the HOW program and I’m keen to rent self-contained accommodation or a spare bedroom. What’s involved?

The steps are as follows:

  1. A HOW team member will chat with you to check you meet the criteria to participate in the HOW program.
  2. If so, the team member will fill out a HOW Homeseeker Application Form over the phone or arrange a more convenient time to do this. If you’d prefer to fill out a hardcopy version yourself, we can post this to you.
  3. Your application will be assessed.
  4. If your application does not fit within the program, we will provide you with contacts for organisations/agencies that might be able to assist you.
  5. If you do meet the criteria, a HOW team member will arrange a convenient time and place to meet with you. We will let you know what you need to bring to this informal meeting. This is an opportunity for us to find out any additional information we require and answer your questions.

Q: I have been approved for the HOW program and I’d like to proceed. What happens now?

We will add you to our database of homeseekers and supply you with a HOW Participant Information Kit. This will detail how the program works, next steps and helpful online links.

We will assess if there is accommodation currently available that suits your needs. Location, style of accommodation (room versus self-contained), general rental price range etc. will be taken into account, as well as preferences such as non-smoker, pet allowed/disallowed etc.

Q: What if there isn’t any accommodation available at the moment that fits my requirements?

We will regularly review our database and contact you as soon as accommodation becomes available that suits your needs.

The HOW program is new and relies heavily on the generosity of Blue Mountains property owners willing to rent out their vacant accommodation at an affordable price.

The supply of accommodation should grow over time as more people hear about the program. If your situation is urgent, we will put you in contact with other organisations/agencies who may be able to assist you.        

Q: What if there is accommodation available now that fits my requirements?

We will provide basic information to the home provider or providers if there is more than one potential option. You may not be the only applicant whose details are forwarded to the provider/s for review.

If the provider feels they would like to progress things with you, we will gain your permission to provide them with your contact details. You and the homeowner will arrange a mutually agreeable time to meet at the property to have a chat and for you to see the accommodation.

This is an opportunity for you both to ask questions and get to know each other, particularly if the accommodation being offered is within a home (i.e. not self-contained).

Q: Do you inspect properties before homeowners join the program?

While the HOW team views the accommodation being offered, it is not a formal inspection. Homeseekers must ensure the accommodation is suitable for their individual needs.

OWN NSW and OWN Blue Mountains simply provide a connection service and disclaim any liability to homeseekers and home providers.

Q: I have met with the home provider and I am keen to proceed. What's next?

If the home provider agrees you will be a suitable applicant, the HOW Participant Information Kit will include helpful documentation and advice regarding next steps including advising the HOW team you would like to proceed via:

Q: What happens if the arrangement doesn’t work out for either party?

If it is self-contained accommodation (exclusively used by you, the tenant), prior to you moving in, you and the home provider may consider entering into a Residential Tenancy Agreement.

The NSW Department of Fair Trading has helpful information regarding ending a residential tenancy: www.fairtrading.nsw.gov.au

For accommodation within homes – that is not exclusively used by the tenant – both parties may consider writing down home guidelines that are agreed to by both parties before the share arrangement commences.

This will help manage expectations e.g. whether bills for utilities and streaming services will be included in the rent; whether food and cooking expenses will be shared or separate; cleaning duties etc. Information kits for confirmed accommodation providers and tenants provide helpful discussion prompts.

OWN NSW and OWN Blue Mountains simply provide a connection service and disclaim any liability to homeseekers and home providers..

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