All posts by Theresa Thornton

Prospective tenant awarded $10,000 for landlord’s discriminatory treatment

A young woman was denied an apartment because she was under the age of 18, something that is illegal under Ontario’s Human Rights Code. The Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario found Havcare Investments and Ms. Carolyn Goodman had violated the Code, fabricated evidence and attempted to get a witness to lie on the stand.

Recognizing the young woman’s particular vulnerability the Tribunal anonymized her name, noting that she “had been a Crown ward since she was 13 years old, was homeless, and was still in high school. Furthermore, she was dealing with significant personal issues, including a pregnancy.”

The Tribunal awarded the young woman $10,000 in damages for the discrimination and ordered the landlord to hire an expert to develop a human rights policy and train staff.

“This is a significant decision,” said Megan Evans Maxwell, AB’s lawyer who acted for the Centre for Equality Rights in Accommodation (CERA) and is now counsel at the Human Rights Legal Support Centre.  “This young woman had support and was determined to make a difference to other peoples’ lives so she stuck with it,” continued Evans Maxwell.

The Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario found that Ms. Goodman (also known as Ms. Linton and/or Krebs) had “attempted to influence a witness, Ms. St. John, to deny that the applicant had been denied the unit on the basis of her age.” The Tribunal also concluded that the landlord’s insistence the unit had been rented to another tenant was “fabricated evidence regarding the purported tenant.”

“Housing decisions from the Tribunal are rare,” said Theresa Thornton, Executive Director of CERA. “Most people walk away from the discrimination, desperate to secure a place to live,” continued Thornton.

CERA is the only organization in Canada dedicated to promoting human rights in housing and ending housing discrimination.

The Human Rights Legal Support Centre offers free legal services to individuals throughout Ontario who have experienced discrimination contrary to Ontario’s Human Rights Code.

For more information or to arrange interviews:

Theresa Thornton, Executive Director, CERA 416-944-0087 ext.2

Jennifer Ramsay, Human Rights Legal Support Centre 416-597-4958 or 416-522-5931 (mobile)

 

Download this press release: here.

Tenants Facing Eviction for Children’s Noise have Rights under Ontario’s Human Rights Code

Imagine you are in the common hallway of your apartment building with your 2 year old daughter. She is laughing, talking and running towards the elevator. You notice there are people coming towards her and she may be in their way, so you take her hand and guide her away from the centre of the hall. She protests vehemently and starts to cry. You try to explain to her why you have stopped her from running, but she is only 2 years old and has no interest in this reasoning. She flops herself onto the floor and rolls around crying even louder.   You try to hush your daughter to no avail, while anxiously awaiting the opening of the elevator door so you can pick her up, get on and get out of the building. Those of us with children know this is not an unfamiliar scene. In fact, this may be one of several such scenes that you will deal with most days, when you have a 2 year old child.

Now imagine the next day you receive an Eviction Notice in your mailbox. It says you have disturbed the reasonable enjoyment of your neighbours by allowing your child to run freely and cry in the common hallway. You panic. You have finally moved into an apartment that is nice enough, clean enough, with rent that you can afford. It’s close to work, shopping, and daycare. It’s your home and you want to stay in your home. Then you suddenly feel angry because you think back to yesterday, when the incident occurred and you remember you actually were quite concerned about your neighbours in the hallway and did your best to try to keep your daughter from disturbing them. You now are panicking again. You tell yourself that you can’t lose this apartment, it’s not fair.

Indeed it is not fair. In fact it may be a violation of Ontario’s Human Rights Code (Code). Under the Code, children have the right to make a reasonable amount of noise, simply because they are children and children make noise. Parents have the right not to be harassed and threatened with eviction for regular children’s noise such as crying, laughing, playing and running. At a Landlord and Tenant Board Hearing, the adjudicator must consider the Code when making the decision to evict or not evict. Landlords are obligated to make accommodations where possible such as providing carpeting to reduce noise. For more information visit the Ontario Human Rights Commission website at: www. ohrc.on.ca

Social Assistance and Evictions in Toronto

The National Council of Welfare recently released a report which stated that welfare rules are forcing people into destitution.  The report explains:  “It is tougher to get welfare in Canada today than during the economic downturn of the early 1990s because Ontario and most other provinces force people to drain their bank accounts and spend all of their savings before they qualify for help.” (Toronto Star, 14/12/10)

Ontario welfare rates are as follows:  a single person receives $349 for rent, and $211 for basic needs, a total of $560 per month.   The average rent for bachelor and one bedroom apartments in Toronto are $758 and $926.  Single people don’t get enough to rent bachelors or one bedroom units in Toronto and are forced to live in rooms or become homeless.  Single parents with two kids under 12 receive $595 for rent and $571 for basic needs, a total of $1166 per month.  The average rent for a two bedroom apartment in Toronto is $1096, which leaves families with $70 after paying rent.  A family with two adults and two kids under 12 receives $647 for rent and $619 for basic needs, a total of $1,266.  The average rent for three or more bedroom apartments is $1290.  Clearly these rates are nowhere near enough to pay housing costs, food, clothing, transportation and other essential needs.  Most families receive Child Tax Benefits but this is clawed back from welfare payments. 

The reality of these facts is that once an individual or family is receiving welfare, they have very few (if any) assets and little or no savings.  So if they fall behind even one month in paying their rent, it can be disastrous.  There is essentially no money left over to pay arrears and keep up with the rent at the same time.  An example is a single parent with two children who lost her job six months ago.  She is confident she will work again eventually, but for now she is finding it impossible to pay rent and cover all of her costs. She is facing eviction for one month rent.  She wants to make a payment plan with the Landlord but she can only afford an extra $50 per month on top of her rent and even that is a stretch for her.  The Landlord won’t accept less than $100 per month towards arrears.  She was unable to pay that so she now faces a hearing at the Landlord and Tenant Board in January.  “I never in a million years expected this to happen to me.”  She says.  “I am so scared and I just don’t know what to do.”