Agent for change

Agent for change

Being named the AREA Most Influential Woman in the Property Market for 2020 has given North Lakes property manager Laura Valenti a powerful platform for raising awareness about domestic and family violence.

The managing director of Solutions Property Management received the award for her work educating her staff and property owners about the role they can play in supporting victims.

Laura says she and others in the industry are uniquely placed to help people who find themselves experiencing violence.

“We’ve always had domestic and family violence on our radar, but COVID has probably brought it out even more,” she says.

Relationship of trust

“We are not counsellors, but property managers are a bit like hairdressers, with an unusual relationship with our clients.

“As part of our job we go into homes where not even her family would be invited in.”

Laura says the intimacy of the relationship and four-monthly visits to homes allows property managers an insight into women’s lives and they are in a position to notice if things seem not quite right.

“They have to let us in, so we might be the only person who visits the property.”

Education the key

She is working to educate her team, owners of properties the company manages and tenants about the signs of domestic and family violence and where to get help.

The Solutions Property Management website has links to support resources and newsletters to tenants and owners contain information about the issue too, as well as tips for property maintenance.

Laura says the state government’s emergency tenancy response to COVID-19, which introduced provisions for tenants experiencing domestic and family violence to end their tenancies quickly, are a positive step and she hopes they will be made permanent.

Working with owners

She says her company deals with women fleeing their properties because of violence, and works with owners to release them from leases without penalty.

“The lease can be a financial burden and whether or not the perpetrator is living there it needs to be terminated,” she says.

“Some owners are really compassionate but others say the lease exists and then we have to go to a tribunal and the women end up abandoning the lease.”

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