One of your major responsibilities as a refugee sponsor group is to secure suitable, appropriate housing for/with the refugee newcomers you sponsor. In most cases, this means that a lease will need to be signed.
Newcomers arrive without employment or credit history and landlords often require a guarantor or a co-signer for the lease. AURA would like to avoid individual sponsor group members acting as guarantors/co-signers. We recognize that this is not always possible, as many landlords will not accept alternative guarantees or letters. If you choose to sign as a guarantor, you can, however we strongly recommend that you do not.
From feedback we have received from sponsors, experiences vary widely. Some landlords have accepted a letter from AURA/the sponsors/ the church, while others have demanded a guarantor or co-signer.
Here are a few alternative tools to support a rental application (and hopefully avoid a sponsor having to sign as an individual).
1. Letter from the Parish
Request a letter on the church’s letterhead confirming the sponsorship and the funds available for the newcomers.
How to get this: Call or email AURA and we will send you a template.
2. Letter from AURA
Request a letter from AURA confirming the sponsorship details, and the sponsor’s responsibility to provide housing.
How to get this: Call or email AURA and we will send you one.
3. The Anglican Diocese of Toronto will not allow a parish representative or Churchwarden to sign a lease as a guarantor; however, they can authorize the parish to provide a rental guarantee. This authorization must be approved in advance by the Diocesan Trusts Committee and confirmed by Diocesan Council, which meet monthly. Parishes seeking to provide a rental guarantee must therefore apply for Diocesan authorization to do so AT LEAST 2 MONTHS IN ADVANCE OF AN EXPECTED ARRIVAL.
How to get this: Contact AURA and we will connect you with the contact at the Diocese who facilitates this process.
If you or a member of your group does sign as a guarantor/ co-signer:
1. Ensure that your commitment will not exceed the first twelve months (there is often a clause included in leases which allows the guarantor’s commitment to continue, unless specifically addressed in an amendment).
2. Have a conversation as a group to ensure that the individual is signing with the support of the group and any issues resulting in the individual’s commitment as a guarantor will be addressed by the group as a whole.
3. Check with the newcomers/landlord after the 12 month lease is over to ensure your name is not still on the lease, and take the steps to remove it.
City of Toronto: Tenant Rights and Responsibilities
Renting in Ontario: Your rights
Read about the laws that affect tenants and landlords in Ontario.
Guide to Ontario’s standard lease for newcomers (available in several languages)
The following links are borrowed from www.settlement.org:
What Tenants Need to Know About the Law - Topics covered include rent increases, deposits and other charges, repairs and maintenance, privacy, moving out, and eviction.
Centre for Equality Rights in Accommodation (CERA) - Provides one-on-one advice and assistance to people who have experienced discrimination in their search for housing.
Landlord and Tenant Board - Provides information about the RTA and to resolve disputes between most residential landlords and tenants.
CLEO - Landlord & Tenant Law - Find clear language publications on the rights of tenants in rental housing.
Help Over the Phone:
24/7 Info on Community Services
Landlord Tenant Board