Over the past few weeks, CERA volunteers have been scanning rental housing ads in Kijij to pro-actively reach out and provide human rights education to landlords who might be violating the Code.
The volunteers have been busy.
They have found dozens of ads – some blatantly discriminatory, others which may not explicitly discriminate, but which are still problematic.
Some of the more obvious examples:
“Suitable for mature, working individual”
“Basement apartment for couple/employee”
“You must have a steady full time job”
“Applicants over 40 years old only”
“Professionals only please”
“No government assistance of any kind”
Other ads were less obvious, but still communicated to young people, people receiving social assistance, families with children and other groups protected under the Code that they are either not welcome and will not be treated equally if they choose to apply:
“A professional single or couple welcome!”
“Perfect for couple and young professionals”
“Best place for a single working person”
“Ideal for senior person or couple”
“Perfect for a retired couple”
Unlike rental ads in Viewit.ca, Renters News and most large newspapers, ads in Kijiji and other online “want ads” such as Craigslist, are not screened. As a result, exclusionary wording is common-place. While both Kijiji and Craigslist have mechanisms for reporting problematic ads, they do not make it clear to posters that they must abide by the Human Rights Code.
Kijiji and other free online classifieds need to start being pro-active in promoting human rights and removing discriminatory ads. There are many options they investigate – directly monitoring and removing ads, posting information on the Code, or adding discrimination as a reason for reporting an ad.
It’s time Kijiji and other online classifieds realized that they can play a significant role in promoting housing equality – or inequality.