Protecting the Tenant while guaranteeing income for the Landlord
1. What is SAFEGUARD?
SAFEGUARD stands for the Ssempiira Foundation Guaranteed Rent Deposit, a program that connects landlords and tenants. The landlords are guaranteed to receive their rental income while the tenants (without standard rental requirements) can be guaranteed a place to stay as long as they can afford the rent. The program is currently being piloted in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
2. Why SAFEGUARD?
In Toronto and Ontario in general, having money to pay for a unit is no guarantee of obtaining a lease on it. Many landlords require certain qualifications from prospective tenants: references, good credit score, a long credit history, a job contract, criminal background check, references, letters from previous landlords et cetera
3. Is racism and discrimination in vetting tenants a justification for SAFEGUARD?
Yes. Racism and discrimination are alive and well in the vetting process for potential tenants. For newcomers, refugees, and other racialized minorities, race, social status and economic background play a major role. For employed minorities with a good credit scores and long credit history, the problem is less pronounced but not entirely absent.
4. Whom does SAFEGUARD benefit?
The program aims to serve Immigrants and refugees of African descent who are less than 5 years in Canada. These individuals normally have low credit scores and many times little or no credit history to show.
They generally lack stable jobs and rely on Ontario Works, Housing Support benefits, money from family, friends, acquaintances, and gig jobs like delivering packages. Many of these folks are still defending their refugee claims at the Refugee Protection Division. They work part-time or in school or doing all the above.
The goal is to help 500 tenants between December 2020 and December 2021.
5. How does SAFEGUARD work?
The program is pretty straight forward.
Step1: A tenant identifies a property or unit they wish to rent and talks to the landlord about the terms. If any of the terms are prohibitive, the tenant contacts us for help.
Step2: The tenant registers with us and becomes a member of our organization, effectively authorizing us to represent him in the matter.
Step 3: We reach out to the landlord and go over the terms of the lease with them. We explain to them how SAFEGUARD works. If they agree to work with us, we offer them a contract to sign. We offer them a letter of guarantee that assures them of rental payment.
Step 4: The tenant signs a commitment for rent payment with us and is given details of how and when to pay. He further agrees to the Terms and Conditions of our organization which are meant to protect him and the landlord.
Step 5: The tenant pays the first and last month to our account; we pay the landlord. All the tenant’s monthly payments go through our office. If the tenant faces delays, or fails to pay, we pay the landlord as we sort out the problems with the tenant from our side.
6. How much does SAFEGUARD cost the parties involved?
7. Is SAFEGUARD open ended?
8. What are the advantages of SAFEGUARD to the tenant?
- The program eliminates the sub-landlord; that is, individuals who own a lease and sub-rent rooms to people who can’t get their names on the lease at jerked up rates, sometimes twice the amount on the lease.
- Tenants who are currently sub-renting can get their names on the lease and pay a fair price for the rooms they live in.
- The sub-renter will no longer suffer the fate of living with total strangers who own the lease. We have heard stories of people having to put up with outrageous behaviour, abusive treatment, sexual assault, mental trauma, theft et cetra….
- Safety for women, children, girls and the elderly can be better assured when the renter has their name on the lease. They can call for help if they feel threatened and have more power to renegotiate the lease or move to a new place altogether.
- With the SAFEGUARD program, a tenant can build trust (rent credit history) through paying her rent consistently, on time with us. We track this information and can pass it on whenever she needs it for her next rental.
- The tenant has our organization as a place of refuge to counsel and advise in case of friction or disputes with her landlord.
- The tenant pays no fees, no charges, no extra cost to her after paying for her rent.