Creating affordable housing in Canberra

“If you own an investment property in the ACT and want to make a lasting difference in the life of a local older woman, single mum or dad, or a family, this is your opportunity.”

Frances Crimmins, CEO YWCA Canberra

In early May, YWCA Canberra launched Rentwell, the first charitable property management service in the ACT to provide affordable rental accommodation to people on low incomes. The initiative was made possible by a grant from the Mercy Foundation’s Grants to End Homelessness program.

According to Frances, “Everyone has a right to an affordable, appropriate and secure place to call home. We know that Canberrans are proud of our welcoming, inclusive culture and great quality of life. We’re excited that Rentwell provides investment property owners in the ACT with an opportunity to change someone’s life in a tangible and powerful way.”

Anglicare’s latest Rental Affordability Snapshot reveals that in the ACT/Queanbeyan region only 0.4% of dwellings available for rent were affordable for a couple on an Age Pension. None were affordable for a single or couple on Newstart and none were affordable for a couple with two children on minimum wage.

“Around the country and right here in Canberra, people on low incomes are experiencing a housing crisis. There are virtually no affordable rental properties on offer and the competition for the few that exist is fierce.”

Affordable, secure housing is key to helping people get their lives back on track and for children to thrive.

YWCA Canberra worked with the ACT Government to pass legislation to provide land tax exemptions for investment property owners who lease their properties through registered community housing providers at less than 75 per cent market rent.

The scheme is in place under a pilot program until 30 June 2021 and is capped to 100 properties across the ACT.

How Rentwell works:

  1. Property owners sign a head lease with YWCA Canberra
  2. YWCA Canberra identifies suitable and eligible tenants and sub-leases the property at below 75 per cent market rate.
  3. Property owners apply for a land tax exemption through the ACT Revenue Office.
  4. YWCA Canberra provides property owners with a tax-deductible gift receipt for any foregone rent (the gap between market rate and the discounted rate).

“Together, we can build stronger communities and make Canberra even more inclusive, fair and liveable for everyone,” Ms Crimmins said.

To contact Rentwell email or visit