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Making it easier for newcomers to rent a home by waiving security deposits and credit checks

An experience with Ukrainian immigrants showed Strategic Group there was a better way to welcome newcomers

Strategic Group, a real estate company with over 2,000 residential apartments across Canada, is waiving security deposits and credit checks for all newcomers to Canada. This policy will remove potential barriers for immigrants and refugees as they seek to make a new home in this country.

“Welcoming newcomers to Canada is critical for our social and economic future,” said Riaz Mamdani, CEO of Strategic Group. “As our country aims to take in 500,000 immigrants per year in the coming years, we need to reflect on what each of us can do to aid in the success of newcomers to our country. This new policy is Strategic Group’s contribution to help immigrants and refugees become active and vital participants in our growing community.”

This change in policy was prompted by a recent experience between Strategic Group and two newcomers from Ukraine. While the couple were prepared to rent at UPTEN in downtown Calgary, they were not prepared to pay a non-refundable security deposit.

It is an industry-standard practice to collect a security deposit once a renter agrees to lease an apartment. This deposit is held in trust for the duration of the lease and returned to the renter once the lease is complete if there is no damage to the apartment or breach of contract.

“When I learned about this situation, it caused me to reflect on my own values,” said Mr. Mamdani. “I appreciate that a security deposit or credit check can be unexpected barriers for a newcomer looking to rent a new home. It is more important to me that people who choose to live in our community are given that opportunity with as few barriers as possible.”

“Waiving these is a financial risk to a landlord, but, in my opinion, it is a risk worth taking.”

“As a child, I came to Canada with my family as refugees from Uganda,” said Mr. Mamdani. “My parents had nothing more than ambition for their new life here. We succeeded through the welcome of new friends, family, and strangers who did what they could to empower us as we took our first steps as newcomers to this country. Now, we are doing our part. I encourage other organizations to join Strategic Group by taking similar actions.”

The new policy applies to newcomers who have arrived in Canada within a year of an application for an apartment. It is a permanent policy applying to all Strategic Group’s residential properties. Strategic Group has previously supported newcomers by making apartments temporarily free for Syrian refugees in 2015 and 2016.

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