Connecting Communities Tenants’ School

Project Name

Connecting Communities Tenants’ School

Connecting Communities Tenants’ School from Connecting Communities on Vimeo.

Project Partners

Lead Agencies: Federation of Metro Tenants’ Associations (FMTA), Rexdale Women’s Centre, Working Women Community Centre, Thorncliffe Neighbourhood Office and Kensington-Bellwoods Community Legal Services
Outreach Partners: Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants (OCASI) will help advertise and promote the project in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA)
Consulting Partners: Advocacy Centre for Tenants Ontario (ACTO), Centre for Equality Rights in Accommodation (CERA), Scarborough Community Legal Services and West Scarborough Community Legal Services

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Project Summary

Develop and carry out six sessions of a Tenants’ School for Settlement workers in the GTA. The FMTA has hosted a tenants’ school in the past. However, in this project, the FMTA will work with its community partners to ensure that the training content and approach fits the context and needs of settlement workers. The school will provide settlement workers with basic overview of landlord and tenant law and the legal protections that the law provides for those in rental accommodation.

Legal Topics for Training

Housing and tenant legal issues faced by immigrants and people who do not speak English or French

Target Audience

Settlement and community outreach workers in the GTA. By promoting the training through out community partners, over 80 settlement and community workers will be eligible for and invited to participate in the Tenants’ School.

Key Activities

The activities of the Tenants’ School project include:

  • Creating an Advisory Committee with membership of each of the partner agencies to oversee the project
  • Developing a five week in-person training program covering tenancy and housing issues using five modules
  • Identifying specific areas of interest, concern and relevance to immigrant populations and revising the orginal tenants school curriculum to address these issues.

Carrying out six sessions of the Tenant School with 15-20 trainees participating in each of the five week sessions (the group would meet for three hours once a week for five weeks)

The content of the tenants school will include:

  • Tenants’ Rights: ‘101’ for immigrants and newcomers
  • Repairs: responsibilities of landlords, requesting repairs etc.
  • Evictions: grounds for eviction, process, appeals etc.
  • Rent Calculations
  • Community Building and Action: exercising rights, strategies that can help build community actions

Need for Training

The origin of the Tenants’ School can be traced back to the work of the Inter-clinic public housing working group. This group was a gathering of lawyers who met on a regular basis to discuss issues related to social housing. This group found that there was limited understanding of tenants’ rights and great potential for training in basic tenants’ law where in fact, the active tenants and other community leaders or ‘trusted intermediaries’ offered a previously untapped opportunity for disseminating information and could be a great resource for sharing their knowledge and teaching other tenants. There has been a strong need identified by settlement workers for information related to housing law, human rights and discrimination. This project is an attempt to respond to this identified need,

Innovative Approach

The innovations of this project include:

  • Creation of new partnerships between the FMTA and three community based settlement agencies
  • Tailor-made training program in tenant and housing law for newcomer communities
  • Collaboration and joint process for developing the curriculum