November is Family Violence Prevention Month. Those assisting victims in our city have reported that the number of people accessing help from domestic abuse has doubled since the start of the pandemic.
Prevention is the key word when it comes to domestic violence.
There are many things we can do to become aware of family violence and prevent it from continuing to occur. Join Lauretta Enders, BA, CPM with Emerald Management & Realty Ltd. and Maggie MacKillop with HomeFront Calgary to discuss the Safer Spaces Act and the Safe Spaces Legislation — its impact on landlords and property managers, the opportunities it provides tenants seeking support, and how you can make a difference.
|IMPORTANT: If you’re at risk of domestic violence, you don’t 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.|
“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, BA, CPM, Emerald Management & Realty Ltd.
Background to the Safer Spaces Legislation
Residential Tenancies (Safer Spaces for Victims of Domestic Violence) Amendment Act was passed in August 2016. This legislation, Termination of Tenancy (Domestic Violence) Regulation, and amendments to the RTA Ministerial Regulation, were proclaimed. These changes to the RTA allow victims of domestic violence to end a tenancy early and without financial penalty. This legislation applies in cases where: if the tenancy continues: the tenant’s safety is at risk, a dependant child’s safety is at risk; or a a protected adult’s safety is at risk.
How does someone obtain a Safer Spaces Certificate?
Either the victim, or someone acting on their behalf with their consent, must follow these steps to get a certificate. As outlined on the Government of Alberta’s website:
Step 1: Get a supporting document
To request a certificate, you’ll need to provide one of the following documents:
1. An existing court order, such as:
- Emergency Protection Order
- Queen’s Bench Protection Order
- Peace Bond
- Restraining Order
- Other relevant court order
2. A Certified Professional Statement
This is a signed statement from a certified professional declaring the tenant is a victim of domestic violence. To obtain one:
- Download and fill out the certified professional statement
- Then, get it signed by a certified professional. See the list of professionals who can sign it for you.
Step 2: Send in your document
Send your contact information and document by:
Step 3: After you send your request
Receiving your certificate
A certificate will be issued to you within 7 days, upon receipt of your request and supporting documentation. A Safer Spaces Advisor will contact you directly to discuss the delivery option that works best for you.
Once you receive the certificate, serve it to your landlord – along with a signed, written notice to vacate – in person or by registered mail.
Notice must be served at least 28 days before you move out, and within 90 days after the date on which the certificate was issued.
The landlord will then terminate your tenancy agreement on the date stated in the notice, without financial penalty.
About HomeFront Calgary
Since the inception of HomeFront in 2000, domestic violence re-offense rates in Calgary have been cut in half and victim engagement in the justice process has more than doubled. Victims are safer, offenders are being held accountable and families are being given their best chance at a future free from domestic violence.
HomeFront’s mission is to create safe community by eliminating domestic violence through direct client services, justice coordination and facilitated community action.
HomeFront’s sign to help recognize the warning signs of domestic abuse
“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.
“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”