Why "The Tenants" Need a New Name

There are many reasons why fewer and fewer Australians are choosing the ‘great Australian dream’ of home ownership. That technically makes them part of ‘the tenant’ club. We often hear it said: “they’re just renting.” But is this kind of talk useful? Here’s why a shift in culture could be just what we need today.

It’s the great Australian dream…to own your own home. Or is it? For a variety of reasons, fewer Australians are choosing to buy a home. That technically makes them part of ‘the tenant’ club. Time after time we hear throwaway lines like “they’re just renting” and “they’re only tenants.” But these people are more than ‘tenants’ – they are homemakers. Here’s why a shift in culture could be just what we need, and why it can make a huge difference to outcomes for all involved.

The Homemaker’s Perspective

Last week, I handed over the keys to a Brisbane property. The beautiful family who pulled up out the front had the car loaded up with their bits and pieces. The dog was in the back seat with their children, and when I handed over the keys, the wife was flushed with excitement.

This family had been waiting anxiously for a home to come up in the area. You see, with their children at the local school, they were planning on staying in the home for a long time. The owner of the previous place they had lived in for two years had decided to sell. Before signing this lease, they had been very anxious about their future.

This is a common scenario for many homemakers in Brisbane today. When I met this family, I asked myself “what does this family need? What will they need in two years’ time? In five years’ time? What is important to them?”

I found, that more than anything, the couple wanted a stable place to raise their children. They needed ‘a place to call home.’ Those wants and needs don’t disappear just because they don’t own their own home.

So I found a homeowner, whose goals matched their own. The property has been a rental ever since the homeowner upgraded to another Brisbane home five years before. So I could be confident, that I was giving both parties, what they needed now, and in the future.

The Homeowner’s Perspective

Being a homeowner can be fraught with danger. There can be a lot of money on the line with rental property ownership. The fear of a property being vacant for too long and impacting the huge mortgage repayments is very real nowadays. As well, there’s the fear of damage to a property.

Investments aren’t always made by cashed-up multi-millionaires. Sometimes investment properties were once-loved residences of the homeowner. Or a nest-egg for retirement. Or a first home for a buyer who cannot afford to live in the home.

It can be easy to live in fear of bad things taking place. It can also be easy to live with an ‘us and them’ sort of mentality when it comes to your investments, especially if you have had bad experiences in the past. But your Agent is doing you as a homeowner a disservice if they don’t consider the homemaker through the process.

The Consultants’ Perspective

A property manager’s role has shown over and over to stretch ‘beyond the numbers.’ Taking into account the homemakers’ needs is imperative.

How many times could you handle having a home you were living in sold underneath you, or your lease not renewed so the rent can be hiked up before you got complacent about renting property?

When people stop caring about each other in these situations, then rents don’t get paid on time, property doesn’t get cared for, and open communication goes out the window.

An effective strategy for property management involves long-term thinking. Firstly, to know the needs of every homeowner in 6 months’ time, in a year’s time, as well as five and ten years’ time. Secondly, to take the time to know the homemakers, and understand their needs. That way, we can match the right people together, and create happy clients beyond the lease agreement.

When the stakes are so high, forming real relationships is the only way to ensure all parties reach their unique goals.

Perhaps we need to embrace the reality we live in and start treating ‘tenants’ and ‘landlords’ with the respect they deserve. It starts with declaring all tenants to be homemakers, and all landlords to be homeowners. It ends, with the deeper understanding that residential property is about people, and on every level, it is somebody’s home.