Mother-of-two Amber Lambert is locked out of the rental market.

Since her rental was sold, she has been in emergency housing for the past month, moving from one motel to the next.

And despite submitting more than 30 applications to landlords, she has been unsuccessful in securing a home.

During the past five years she has rented several properties, and except for a period of homelessness last year, the 23-year-old has usually found finding accommodation to be relatively straightforward.


But something has changed, she says.

"I've just been doing whatever I can to secure a rental because a lot of people judge me because I am a sole parent. And I guess having a sole income is not enough."

However, she says landlords have been "pretty good" with giving her advice on why they didn't choose her. But unfortunately, it's things that can't be changed.

Lambert's plight is one that many experience, but one that a group of eight organisations in Hawke's Bay are trying to change, collectively.

Yesterday, she finished a two-day intensive Ready to Rent programme, which aims to up-skill potential tenants struggling to find a safe rental property.

During the course, they learn basic cleanliness, heating tips, interview preparedness, and their rights as a tenant. They graduate with a supporting letter which they can use when applying for tenancies in the future.

It is the first of its kind in the country, based off a British tenancy accreditation scheme.

The Hawke's Bay District Health Board-led initiative began about 18 months ago and is supported by the Hawke's Bay Property Investors' Association, Te Taiwhenua o Heretaunga, WINZ, Budget First, Tenancy Services, Salvation Army and Housing NZ.

At the recent Hawke's Bay Heath Awards, Ready to Rent was highly commended in the "Commitment to working together to improve community health and wellbeing Award".


Te Taiwhenua o Heretaunga contracts and business development manager James Lyver said the idea began when they noticed there was a "real need" in the private market.

"There's no magic, it's just really good, collective work. Organisations working together with a really common purpose of housing whanau into the private market."

The DHB's medical officer of health, Dr Nicholas Jones, said it was part of a bigger programme, trying to deal with housing related health issues.

"Housing is a major factor for people's health. Having a home that is safe, warm and dry and not overcrowded is well-known to be important for health."

Homes that were damp and mouldy increased the risk of children in particular contracting bronchitis, Jones said.

"In terms of when there's a competitive market for rental properties, landlords are more likely to take people who may be more familiar with the process of renting a property ahead of others and I think this programme helps to redress that and provide a better chance for people to get into a good quality rental property."

In the current, "competitive" market, Jones said, people were "forced to accept properties that aren't necessarily in the best condition and they would be very reluctant also to report any problems associated with that property".

They had identified some clients through their Healthy Housing programme.

Hawke's Bay Property Investors' Association president Graham Duff said feedback from landlords was positive. He noted that several prospective tenants have been picked up by landlords after completing the course.

"It raises the standard of people who want to be tenants because they are informed in all aspects."

Currently, the programme alternates between Hastings and Napier each month, and there are plans to offer the service elsewhere around the region.