Live rent free and make a difference to someones life.. (Stock image)
Programs currently being run in Victoria and Western Australia are offering just that, by giving suitable flatmates the opportunity to live rent free in exchange for assisting the aged or disabled remain in their homes and communities.
Homeshare is one such program run by UnitingCare lifeAssist which helps elderly people stay independent and in their homes for longer, thanks to live in ‘homesharers’.
In lieu of rent, the homesharer is asked to provide up to 10 hours of practical assistance around the home; helping with tasks such as gardening, cleaning or meal preparation.
lifeAssist Homeshare Coordinator, Jeremy Picknell said the homeshare agreement is a special arrangement that is mutually beneficial.
“It is win-win for both parties. The householder benefits from the practical assistance and the security of having someone live with them and the homesharer enjoys sharing the home of a mature person,” said Picknell.
“A homeshare agreement is special because it is about the connection and friendship.”
Leah, 32 of Melbourne, is a PHD student currently living in a homeshare with householder Adelle, 79.
Not wanting to live in typical student accommodation, Leah said she wasn’t just drawn to the program because it meant free rent.
“Saving on rent is helpful, but I like that I get to give towards someone’s life,” said Leah.
“When I moved to Australia I lost my connection to the older generation through my grandparents. Being a homesharer has given that back to me.”
General Manager of Flatmates.com.au, Thomas Clement said free rent for companionship or services is more common than people might think.
“In a time where the commodity of property is so high, it seems unimaginable that someone would offer a room rent free, but it happens quite a bit and it’s great to see,” said Clement.
“What’s even better, is that those who are applying for these agreements aren’t doing so just for the free rent, they are applying for the opportunity to make someones life a little better.”
Chief Executive Officer of Perth Home Care Services, Rosie Lawn, said the organisation had run their Shared Living program for the past three years and provided their clients with great benefit.
“We have had various shared living arrangements for about 20 years, [but] the Shared Living team have been in place for three years,” said Lawn
For the live in companion it means, “being able to provide assistance and contributing to the household so the person can remain living [as] independently as possible in their own home.”
Lawn explained being a home sharer isn’t suitable for everyone and all applicants undergo stringent checks before moving in.
“People who have an understanding of the mutual benefit and people with caring or understanding nature are most suited to be a live in companion.”
Applicants are also required to undergo police checks, as-well-as interviews with the service provider and the householder.
Both PHCS and UnitingCare lifeAssist provide ongoing support to live in companions and householders.
Clement said his site Flatmates.com.au currently hosted three different providers who assist in partnering flatmates with householders in need.
“It’s great to have these types of programs in our community and they have our full support,” said Clement.
“We strongly encourage any applicants who meet the criteria to apply.”