A classic red-brick house located in a quiet suburb on the Northern Beaches hosts the beginning of a beautiful bond between two families. Through SSI Housing and the generosity of its owner, the granny flat has become home to a newly-arrived refugee family of four from Syria.
Landlord Neil Jones*, made the ethical choice to not make the greatest possible profit from his granny flat in one of the most expensive cities in the world.
Instead, he made the decision to rent it out through SSI Housing, a registered property management agent, helping to increase affordable housing options for the community.
“We finished building our granny flat at the time the humanitarian crisis in Syria began," Mr Jones said. “While we were considering what to do with it, I remember seeing all the images of Syrian refugees on TV and simultaneously hearing the negative lights refugees and asylum seekers are often portrayed in the media, which we didn’t agree at all with.”
“And suddenly this idea came to us; we could actually do something useful with our granny flat to contribute positively to the situation of at least one family of refugees arriving in Australia.”
Through the Northern Beaches Refugee Initiative (NBRI) – a community organisation that Mr Jones is a volunteer with – they were linked to SSI Housing.
As a community housing provider registered by the Registrar of Community Housing, SSI Housing can act as the managing agent on behalf of property owners.
Low, flat rate management fees mean that in most cases the savings can be passed onto to the tenant.
Alternatively, landlords can choose to offer their properties at a reduced market rate to help increase the long-term accommodation options for people who face challenges getting into the rental market, particularly refugees.
SSI manages a private property portfolio for the provision of long-term housing for refugees and other people in need within the wider community.
“As a landlord, it is very beneficial to have an organisation like SSI Housing that contractually manages the agreement with the tenant, rather than having to take that on yourself,” Tony added.
“In case anything goes wrong with the property, SSI can step in do what is needed. It is very comforting to have that type of safety net and they provide a very cost effective management service for me. ”
Although landlords can rent their properties at market rates, many of the property owners with SSI Housing choose to offer their properties at a reduced rate to make it easier for recently arrived refugees who do not have a local rental history and face challenges getting into the rental market.
The two families have adjusted very well to the new situation and the experience has been completely worth it so far, Mr Jones said.
“Our tenants’ daughters are pretty much the same age as ours, so they started playing together from very early on and this kind of accelerated the process of establishing a relationship," he said. "We quickly became just parents who are part of the same community, who look out for each other as you do with your neighbours.
“We didn’t know what to expect, but it’s worked out very well and we are very happy with the decision we made.”