Victims of domestic violence can break rental agreements early under Safer Spaces Act
The Residential Tenancies (Safer Spaces for Victims of Domestic Violence) Act is designed to help victims of domestic violence get away from their abusers. This Act enables renters to end a residential tenancy agreement without financial penalty by showing their landlord a certificate verifying that they’re at risk.
HomeFront’s Executive Director Maggie MacKillop joined Lauretta Enders of Emerald Management & Realty Ltd. for a conversation about the Safer Spaces Act and what landlords and property managers should know about domestic violence and this legislation.
“Nobody has to do this alone. Being a property manager or landlord, we don’t have to be the experts… If someone’s coming forward with this disclosure, it is important to believe them and do what we can on our level to help and support, or refer them on to the people who are the experts and can really help a family or individual at such a serious time of crisis.”
– Lauretta Enders, Emerald Management & Realty
Recognize the warning signs
There are several signs to be mindful of when interacting with residents and rental properties that may indicate abuse is occurring:
- Repeated late payment of rent
- Noticeable injuries or signs of cover-up including sunglasses, makeup, or clothing
- Change in tenant’s behaviour
- Fewer visitors or going out less
- Expressions of fear
- Noise complaints or concerns expressed by other tenants
- Property damage, such as holes punched in walls
By being aware of this complex social problem and informed of the signs of domestic abuse, landlords and property managers can help provide an educated response to residents experiencing violence and refer to them all necessary avenues of support.
For more information and resources, please access The Domestic Violence Toolkit for Landlords. It includes information on how to help prevent domestic violence, a directory of domestic violence resources and services in Alberta, and a list of resources to gain a better understanding of domestic violence.
“We have a saying at HomeFront which is ‘never miss an opportunity to support a victim in their time of need because it may be the only time they reach out.’ You could be the difference between living a life of safety and health or continued impact by domestic violence. It takes everybody doing their part. It’s as simple as asking someone if they’re okay and listening. You don’t have to be the expert; there are many resources out there.”
– Maggie MacKillop, HomeFront
Safer Spaces Certificate to end tenancy
To obtain a certificate, a tenant — or someone acting on their behalf with their consent — will need to provide an existing court order or a letter from a certified professional confirming they or their children are in danger. After receiving the certificate, a tenant can use it to give at least 28 days’ notice to their landlord.
For more information on how renters experiencing domestic violence can end their tenancy and request a certificate, please visit the Alberta Safer Spaces website.
If you are at risk of domestic violence, you do not have to wait until you receive your certificate before moving out. Call 911 if you’re in immediate danger. Call 310-1818 for information on supports available to you.