The relationship between landlords and tenants can be challenging at times. But the Calgary Residential Rental Association (CRRA) exists to ensure having a rental business doesn’t have to be difficult.
CRRA is a membership-based association that offers education and support to residential landlords and property owners throughout Alberta. The organization serves landlords of all sizes, from those renting out their basement suites to large property owners with thousands of doors. They serve their membership by offering support, guidance, resources, and education.
“We’re here to provide a balanced approach,” says Gerry Baxter, the CRRA’s Executive Director. “I’ll always tell landlords, ‘Look after your tenants. Treat them well.’ If you’re in this business, you’re out of business without your customers.’”
Since 2007, the CRRA has offered a course to property owners and operators that covers Alberta’s residential tenancies legislation and best practices for those in the industry. The two-day course helps owners and operators build good relationships with their tenants from the first interaction to the end of the tenancy.
While small operators often take the course to learn their responsibilities, larger property owners often send their staff to learn how to better manage tenant relationships. “Industry leaders like Avenue Living often send leasing managers, site managers and property managers to take the course. It can serve as a great education resource,” says Baxter. “One thing we’ve found is that since we’ve started offering it, the number of support calls we receive from our members has diminished considerably.”
The CRRA also does work with community organizations, such as the Centre for Newcomers, to help ensure tenants know their rights and responsibilities, too.
Advocacy and Partnership
Avenue Living has been a member of the CRRA since 2017, and in addition to sending employees through the property management course they have supported the organization in other ways, by sponsoring many of the CRRA’s signature events and aiding in the CRRA’s advocacy efforts.
“The CRRA has an excellent team that is dedicated to assisting and educating owners and managers across the City. Throughout 2020, the CRRA’s engagement with its members has been very impactful to help owners and managers navigate government policy adjustments in the residential rental industry.” says Dave Smith, CEO of Avenue Living’s U.S. Real Estate Trust and COO of Avenue Living Asset Management.
The CRRA has been part of the Alberta Residential Tenancies Advisory Committee for 19 years, advocating on behalf of its members; Avenue Living has been an active member of the CRRA’s government committee, providing insight on the challenges those in the industry face. “We’ve always been very grateful for the support,” says Jordan DeBarros, Business Development and Marketing Manager for the CRRA. “It’s been a great partnership.”
The opportunity to share insight goes beyond the advocacy of everyday connection between industry members. “Networking is a huge part of what we do,” says Baxter. “Getting together with other like-minded members is really beneficial, now more than ever.”
Creating a Community
And while the pandemic means people won’t be gathering in rooms together for quite some time, CRRA members still have the support and guidance to help them through what has been a trying time for everyone. “The pandemic has brought some innovative and exciting changes,” says Baxter. While April saw most calls from their members focusing on health and safety measures, once they became used to the new reality, owners began to refine their offerings to appeal to tenants who are home much more than usual.
“We’ve seen large buildings start offering enhanced amenities, such as fitness centres, pet-cleaning stations, or coffee bars right in the buildings,” says DeBarros. “They’re trying to create a real sense of community.”
These changes also come with others more directly related to the pandemic, such as enhanced cleaning and safety protocols, virtual viewings, and digital application processes. Baxter sees those changes lasting well beyond the pandemic. And he’s seen property managers reach out to tenants in other ways. “We’ve seen a higher level of service,” he said. “A lot more managers have reached out to their tenants to check on their well-being, or to lend a hand if they’re having financial difficulty. It’s been nice to see,” added Baxter.
Membership in the CRRA is open to any landlord or property owner, whether they own one unit or 1,000. You can find more details about how to join and how to take the Residential Tenancies in Alberta course here.
This commentary and the information contained herein are for educational and informational purposes only and do not constitute an offer to sell, or a solicitation of an offer to buy, any securities or related financial instruments. This article may contain forward-looking statements. Readers should refer to information contained on our website at www.avenuelivingam.com for additional information regarding forward-looking statements and certain risks associated with them.