The following is a Q&A with Bowen Island Resilient Community Housing (BIRCH) executive director Robyn Fenton about the upcoming RentSmart workshops at Bowen Island Municipality.
What is RentSmart?
RentSmart is a program developed by the Ready to Rent BC Association––they “believe in the power of education to transform lives”––see more: readytorentbc.org/rent-smart/
Key points in the program for both tenants and landlords:
1. understand their rights and responsibilities;
2. understand how the law protects both landlords and tenants;
3. effective communication skills to avoid conflict.
Who facilitates the workshop?
Earlier this year, Tess Taylor undertook the training program––supported by BIRCH and the municipality. The program has been designed to be fun and interactive, with exercises and different modules to complete––so it is not just a boring lecture with someone at the front of the room talking for three hours.
How could this help people with their housing situations (renting or letting?)
BIRCH is actively working on a new rental apartment building but we are two to three years from opening our doors. Our hope in offering this program is to unlock some of the existing housing on Bowen and open up some rental units much faster. We know there are rentable spaces out there on Bowen that - for a variety of reasons - aren’t being rented (or at least not advertised publicly). We hope that by offering education to (A) tenants, we will create a great pool of eligible tenants out there; and (B) landlords, we can take away some of the fear that may be associated with becoming a landlord, and give them confidence to rent out their space.
What does this have to do with BIRCH and the muni?
BIRCH and the muni partnered to have Tess Taylor trained as facilitator and to offer this program to the public. It’s a way of taking action to help with the affordable housing crisis we are facing. BIRCH was able to provide this support thanks to a donation from the Knick Knack Nook, and BIM’s support is coming from the Housing Speaker Series.
How many people can attend?
Up to 15 people for each workshop
How long are the workshops?
Both workshops run 11 a.m. to 2 p.m, three hours and include refreshments. Register now: tenants, Sept. 14: bowenrentsmart1.eventbrite.ca. Landlords, Oct. 5: bowenrentsmart2.eventbrite.ca.