Nanaimo women’s centre program helps teach tenants rights in rental housing

Nanaimo Women's Resources Society is rolling out new workshops to help social service agencies teach people the basics of tenancy.

A new Nanaimo program is set to teach tenancy rights to Nanaimo’s vulnerable renters.

The Nanaimo Women’s Resources Society has launched a new education initiative that will help social service agencies teach people the basics of tenancy, from the need for room inspections to rental rights.

The society started offering Supporting Tenancy through Action and Resources to its clients after realizing most never had formal training and skills around tenancy. Now they are helping to train other organizations like the Salvation Army and Island Crisis Care Society to spread the information through new interactive workshops. Staff members hope the initiative will allow more people to live in rental housing successfully.

Violet Hayes, executive director of the Island Crisis Care Society, plans to hold a session for women in its shelter this September, calling it a much-needed service. Some people have been homeless or haven’t been in situations where they’ve learned to be good tenants, she said.

As a result, the shelter has seen its clients grapple with problems when they enter into market rental housing. Hayes said some women have reported landlords walking into their rooms at night to watch them sleep and until now, they thought they had to put up with the act to stay housed. They don’t, and the program helps explain they have the ability to do something about the intrusion, Hayes said.

“A lot of women enter into the shelter and don’t have a lot of skills in the necessary things we take for granted, like how to do an inspection when going to rent a place, and basic things about damage deposits,” she said. “We have realized often if we are sending them out into market housing they are being sent out to fail.

“By providing education we hope that they will be able to succeed in their rental experiences.”

The women’s resources society will also run a similar program for youth at Parksville’s Ballenas Secondary School next year,  to address tenancy before youth move on their own.