Examples of Discrimination

The following sections provide some limited examples of the types of discrimination that you may experience.

Racism

There was a flood on the floor above you and you and your neighbour have damaged walls because of it. Your neighbour’s apartment is repaired within a few days without her having to make any formal request. You ask the landlord when your apartment will be repaired and he tells you that you must file a maintenance request. You do so and still nothing happens. When you complain, the landlord comments that “you people” are so difficult and demanding. You are black and your neighbour is white.

You have the same rights as your neighbour. It is illegal for a landlord to treat you differently because of your race (for example, to make it more difficult for you to have repairs completed in your unit.).

Disability

Due to a worsening disability, you will soon need to rely on a wheelchair. You tell your landlord that you will need a ramp in order to access your apartment.  Your landlord tells you that he does not have the money to install a ramp and that you should just move.

Landlords have a duty to change structures or practices in order to ensure that persons with disabilities are able to enjoy equal benefit of and equal access to housing.

References, Credit Checks and Job Tenure

You recently immigrated to Canada. You apply for an apartment. The landlord reviews your application and says that she won’t rent to you if you cannot provide Canadian landlord or credit references or show a long full-time employment history.

If you are a young person, a newcomer to Canada or a caregiver returning to the workforce landlords should not refuse to rent to you because you have no previous Canadian landlord references or credit history. An absence of credit and landlord references is not the same as bad credit and landlord references. A landlord’s demand that you show a long full-time employment history may also be discriminatory.

Minimum Income Criteria

You apply for a one-bedroom unit and the landlord says, “Sorry, I don’t rent to anyone making less than $30,000 a year”.  

A landlord should not refuse to rent to you simply because she does not feel that your income is high enough.

Religion

You are Muslim and you wear traditional clothing. You call about an apartment and it is available. When you show up to look at it, the landlord says it is rented, but the “For Rent” ad continues to run in the newspaper.

It is illegal to deny someone an apartment because of their religion — or for any other prohibited ground.

Apartment Transfers

You have been renting a one-bedroom apartment for two years with your spouse in a building that you love.  You become pregnant and want to transfer to a larger unit in the building, but the landlord says that a transfer would be an administrative hassle and refuses.

If you need to transfer to another apartment because of changes in your family size or because of a disability, your landlord should accommodate your needs where possible and in a timely fashion.

Harassment

You are a single woman and the man next door keeps bothering you and making rude remarks.  You ask him to stop but he doesn’t.  You complain to the landlord who says it’s not his problem.    

That’s wrong. The man next door is breaking the law by harassing you and it’s the landlord’s duty to do something about it. A tenant has the right to live free from harassment.  Sometimes tenants are bothered or harassed by a landlord, a superintendent, or other tenants— it might be racial insults, rude remarks about a disability, constant complaints about reasonable children’s noise or a man bothering a woman. 

Family Size

You are a single mother with three kids. You want to rent a two-bedroom apartment that you can afford, but the landlord says that an adult and three children are not allowed to live in a two-bedroom apartment. He tells you that you must rent a bigger apartment.

A landlord should not refuse to rent your family an apartment because the apartment is “too small” unless, by renting to you, the landlord would be breaking a municipal overcrowding or health and safety by-law.

Family Structure

You are a two-parent family with two children – one girl and one boy. You finally find an affordable two-bedroom apartment, but the landlord says, “I’m sorry. It’s the building’s policy that children of the opposite sex cannot share a bedroom.”

Any policy, whether in public subsidized or private housing, that dictates how your family should or may live is contrary to human rights law unless your family’s living arrangements would break a municipal health and safety or overcrowding by-law.

Youth

You are 17 and have just left home. You find a suitable bachelor apartment to rent, but the landlord says that he only rents to people who are eighteen or older.  Or, you are a refugee who is 16 or 17 and you are refused an apartment because you are “too young”.

16 or 17 year olds who are living away from their parents cannot be refused an apartment because of their age.  A lease signed by a 16 or 17 year old is legally binding.

Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity

You are a lesbian and you and your partner go to see an apartment. The landlord asks you if you have boyfriends that will visit. You say no and explain that you are partners. The landlord tells you that he runs a “family building” and will not rent to you.

It is illegal for a landlord to refuse to rent to you because you are in a same sex relationship or because you are gay or lesbian. As well, even though “gender identity” is not specifically mentioned in the Code, transsexual and transgendered persons are also protected.

Racial Harassment

You are black and live with your two teenage sons in coop housing. You are the only black family in the small building. Although your children are extremely well behaved, the other residents of the coop are constantly accosting you about their “bad” behaviour.  It seems that anything your sons do is bothersome to the other tenants. After months of harassment, you get angry with a coop board member and tell her that she and the other residents should leave you and your sons alone. A few weeks later you receive an eviction notice, which alleges that you threatened another resident of the building with violence.

It is illegal for a landlord or other residents in a building to harass you because of your race. You  have the right to be free from discrimination and harassment.  Note: Racial harassment is quite common.  In CERA’s experience, racial harassment, like racial discrimination, is very difficult to prove because it is often subtle – though unrelenting in nature.  It usually manifests itself as comments related to being difficult, loud, intimidating, etc., both for racialized men and women.  It is rarely direct (though this happens too), but rather associated with stereotypical attitudes and assumptions about racialized persons and their “expected” behaviour.  In CERA’s experience, tenants dealing with racial harassment are often afraid to confront the harasser for fear of “legitimizing” the stereotypical assumptions related to being difficult or being accused of using the “race card” for special treatment.