Four million Canadians rent; 450,000 new renters enter the market each year. Tenants want a safe, suitable, affordable home to rent; landlords want tenants to pay rent on time, and take care of their property. Being a good tenant or a good landlord is not an innate skill. RentSmart teaches these skills.
The program offered by CMHA Central Alberta was started by Ready to Rent BC (R2R) which was founded by a group of citizens and service-related agencies in the Victoria region that came together to find solutions for unstably housed and homeless families. The first course was piloted in 2009, and Ready to Rent BC (R2R) was incorporated in 2011. Since then, R2R has been steadily expanding to meet the need for pro-active solutions that increase housing stability and prevent homelessness.
R2R provides education that builds the skills, knowledge and confidence of participants while respecting them as adult learners through engaged and participatory curriculum. As these educational programs are growing across the country, we recognize that every tenant and landlord could benefit from RentSmart education.
There are three different RentSmart Programs: the RentSmart eight week certificate program; a one-time three hour RentSmart Basics program; and a RentSmart program for landlords. CMHA HomeLinks staff has been trained to deliver the eight week certificate program and the RentSmart Basics program. We hope to offer the landlord program soon. There is no fee for these programs. Call CMHA for more information or to register for upcoming programs,
Rent Smart Eight Week Certificate Program
RentSmart assists those who want to understand their role as tenants, may face barriers to housing, and want to reduce those barriers. Participants have included youth leaving care, low income families; women escaping violence; newcomers to Canada, among others and has expanded to support all those who want to understand their role as tenant in building successful tenancies. Common barriers to housing are affordability, a lack of references, poor credit history, and discrimination.
The RentSmart educational model addresses barriers and offers tools to reduce these barriers, increase housing stability and ultimately, prevent homelessness.
RentSmart helps participants to find and keep housing by building knowledge, life skills and confidence to find appropriate housing and to overcome common barriers to accessing housing, and increased skills to stay housed. RentSmart education weaves in key skills and tools to address each potential vulnerability, while the RentSmart certificate opens doors to housing, and education coaches people to apply their knowledge and skills.
RentSmart tenant course includes these components and is backed by RentSmart certificate which can be used by participants to demonstrate their knowledge to prospective landlords.
- Meaning of home – understanding needs and wants;
- Tenant’s rights and responsibilities;
- Landlord’s expectations and responsibilities;
- Financial management for housing affordability;
- Taking care of home – maintenance do’s and don’ts
- Effective communication with landlords, neighbours and roommates; and
- Managing crisis, fie safety, pests and tenant insurance
The three hour RentSmart Basics Program
RentSmart Basics is for groups that may not have the time or stability to do the full RentSmart Certificate course.
RentSmart Basics focuses on the 3 Keys:
- Pay rent on time and in full
- Quiet enjoyment and being a good neighbour
- Taking care of your home
RentSmart Basics also provides a base understanding of the related tenancy laws and finding a home. Although RentSmart Basics can be taught to any group, the course has been designed to meet the needs of these specific groups:
- Young people
- Newcomers and refugees
- People transitioning from housing instability to housing stability
RentSmart Basics draws from the RentSmart Certificate 8 week curriculum, as well as adding new activities and exercises.