Coworking Spotlight: Better Renting

Better Renting executive director Joel Dignam. Picture: Keegan Carroll | Source: Canberra Times

Canberra Innovation Network coworking is full of inspiring entrepreneurs who are making a difference. This week we spoke to Joel Dignam, Executive Director of Better Renting about his work, his goals and of course, coworking!

What’s the origin of your company? How did you get to where you are now?

I started Better Renting in 2018. Before then I’d been working with climate organisations, and from this I learnt about the energy issues facing people who rent. In particular, rental properties are often less energy efficient, and this means renters live in cold homes that make them sick. With more people renting, I saw a gap for a new organisation that would do the sort of campaigning that I already knew about from working in the climate space.

I was lucky enough to be part of an incubator for new social movement organisations, Progress Labs, and I was able to learn about fundraising and how to set up a new not-for-profit, and thus we got off the ground.

What are you working on right now?

Currently our key projects are “Healthy Homes for Renters” and “Reimagine Renting”. The first project is that everyone should have a healthy home, so we are pushing for every state and territory government to commit to minimum energy efficiency standards for rental properties. Cold homes are a major health issue, and this would be a big step to solve it.

“Reimagine Renting” is a big-picture project looking at how Australians think and talk about renting. Renting in Australia is often seen as an inferior, second-class option, and a lot of the public discourse reflects this. We want to think about a new story for renters and renting that can help to lay the foundation for a housing system that gives everyone a decent home.

What’s on your daily to-do list?

Often I start by checking in on our social media feeds and any relevant media that day about rental issues. I often will then be getting in touch with people from other organisations to talk about strategy or arrange a meeting or get their input on a draft letter. I’m doing lots of research into fundraising at the moment, trying to find funding opportunities and craft a good pitch for that.

What are you looking forward to achieving in the next 12 months?

I’m looking forward to winning a commitment to healthy homes and keeping the pressure on government to deliver, and hopefully fundraising to expand the Better Renting team.

What’s your favourite thing about being part of a coworking space?

After working from my rental home last year it’s nice to be able to work somewhere in winter that is warm and where I don’t need to bury myself under a heated throw rug the whole time.

For me, I find I work a lot better and more effectively when I have the routine of leaving home every day and going into an office. I also enjoy the incidental social interactions and sense of connection.

We do too, Joel!

Find out how you can get involved with Better Renting on their website and follow them on Twitter or Facebook for news and updates!