Your Rights

The only way to stop discrimination in housing is to challenge it.

“On welfare? You can’t rent here if you don’t have a job.”
“Sorry, this building is adult only. No kids.”
“You don’t have a husband? And you have kids? Sorry, the apartment is taken.”
“I’m not going to build a wheelchair ramp just for one tenant. Forget it.”
“Where are you from? Sorry, I want a Canadian family.”


Have you experienced discrimination in your search for housing?

It is against the law in Ontario for anyone to treat you unfairly or to refuse to rent you an apartment because:

  • You are pregnant or have children
  • You are on welfare or government assistance
  • You are a person living with a disability
  • You are single, separated, divorced or living common law
  • You are sixteen or seventeen and living away from your parents

Or because of your Race, Sex, Colour, Nationality, Place of Origin, Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity or Expression, Age and/or Religion.

One of the most common forms of discrimination in housing is the use of minimum income criteria or rent-to-income ratios to screen prospective tenants and to deny them accommodation. This occurs when a landlord will not rent an apartment to a tenant if the tenant will be paying more than 30-40% of their income on rent. Such minimum income criteria severely restricts housing options for women, immigrants and refugees, young families, people receiving social assistance and other disadvantaged households. Under the Ontario Human Rights Code and its Regulations, the use of minimum income criteria has been found to constitute discrimination and to be illegal by human rights Boards of Inquiry.

CERA can help you. CERA provides one-on-one assistance to people who have experienced discrimination in their search for housing. Our services are free of charge and open to anyone living in Ontario. We:

  • provide information on human rights protections in housing;
  • negotiate with landlords on behalf of individuals and families who have been denied housing for discriminatory reasons;
  • help people file formal human rights applications with the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario, when casework volume allows;
  • represent people throughout the formal application process with the Tribunal, when casework volume allows.

If you want CERA to help you, call us and speak to one of our human rights intake workers.

In Toronto: 1.416.944.0087
Toll Free: 1.800.263.1139

Related Resources

Ontario’s  Human Rights Code

CERA’s Submission to the Ontario Human Rights Commission on Human Rights in Rental Housing (2007) (with the Social Rights Advocacy Centre and the National Working Group on Women and Housing) DOC

The Ontario Human Rights Commission’s Policy on Human Rights and Rental Housing (2009)

Human Rights in Housing in Canada: An Advocate’s Guide (2008) PDF RTF (Version française: PDF RTF)

Trying to Find a Place to Live? Discrimination It’s Against the Law (2007) PDF

Young and Trying to Find a Place to Live? Discrimination is Against the Law (2008) PDF

New to Canada and Facing Discrimination? (2009) PDF

Ontario’s Human Rights Code, Disability and the Duty to Accommodate: A Guide for Housing Workers and Tenants (2007) PDF

Ontario’s Human Rights Code, Disability and the Duty to Accommodate: A Guide for Landlords (2007) PDF

Ontario’s New Human Rights System (2008) PDF (Version française, Arabic, Chinese, Punjabi, Somali, Spanish, Tagalog, Tamil, Urdu, Vietnamese)

Sorry, It’s Rented: Measuring Discrimination in Toronto’s Rental Housing Market (2009) PDF


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