Just over two years ago, the Shashy family fled Iraq with just the clothes on their back when IS arrived in their home city of Mosul.
They spent time as refugees in Jordan before seeking refuge in Australia.
Nurse and mother-of-three Eman Shashy says the prospect of finding a house was intimidating.
“I know some conversation of English, but I don’t know how I find a house, how I speak with anyone. How I find a house so big difficult for me.”
AMES Australia housing worker Law Baw Doe helped the family find a three-bedroom home in Melbourne’s north.
She says the challenges confronting newly arrived renters are many and varied.
“No rental history, language barrier … of course, the market as well. And the price, actually.”
It has prompted the Victorian Government to launch a series of online videos in four languages, now available through the state’s Consumer Affairs website.
AIMS’ Catharine O’Grady helped create the short animations.
She says they outline tenants’ rights and responsibilities and even the steps required to request maintenance and repairs.
“They can access it repeatedly in their own language and understand simple steps that they can take to ensure they meet their obligations and the landlord’s meeting theirs as well.”
Property lawyer Denis Nelthorpe says the videos will also help migrants deal with unscrupulous agents and landlords who often view ill-informed tenants as a “soft target.”
“And then when they start to ask for repairs, they’re threatened with eviction, so they can be mistreated right from the beginning. They’re often very scared to challenge authority.”
For some migrants, like Say Htoo Eh Moero, (say too MOR-o) who came to Australia via a refugee camp on the Thai-Burma border, even living in a brick home was foreign.
“Give the bamboo and leaves for the roof and the walls to make a very small house, and they don’t have to worry about signing contract or anything. They just build their own house.”
For the Shashy family, and many like them, securing a simple rental property represents the first step in their new lives.
And 25-year-old Eman Shashy says she feels truly at home now for the first time in as long as she cares to remember.
“I feel safe, in first thing, and I feel I am happy, because I can start my life with my family.”