Learn how to tell if you are being discriminated against when choosing where to rent

A landlord won't rent to me and I think it's because of discrimination. What can I do?
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Learn how to tell if you are being discriminated against when choosing where to rent

Some discrimination can be very obvious. This is sometimes called direct discrimination. For example, a landlord says they won’t rent to you because of your colour or religion.

It can be hard to prove discrimination because often the landlord will not say the real reason that they won't rent to you. You might be able to find out if the landlord has a pattern of not renting to certain groups. Or, if they tell you the place is already taken, you could try having a friend ask about it, or see if it is still being advertised.

A landlord must not advertise a unit in a way that discriminates. For example, they must not say that:

  • the building is adults-only (unless it is a seniors residence)
  • you must have a job to rent there
  • the place is "suitable for young professionals"

Indirect discrimination

Some practices are considered discrimination because of how they affect different groups of people differently. The law says that landlords must try to meet tenants' needs in order to avoid this kind of discrimination, even if it is unintentional.

For example, here are some reasons a landlord might give for not renting to you, and possible steps they could take instead:

Reason

Solution

You use a wheelchair and the unit or building isn't accessible

The landlord could install a ramp or make changes to the unit

You have a service animal but the landlord won't rent to people with animals

The landlord could make exceptions for people who need a service animal because of a disability

You have children and the landlord thinks other tenants might complain about noise

The landlord could put in better soundproofing, and also tell complaining tenants that they cannot expect children to always be quiet

You have no credit history because you are young or because you are a newcomer to Canada

The landlord could look at other information to help decide if you would be a reliable tenant

But landlords don't have to do things that they can prove will cause them undue hardship. The only things that can be considered undue hardship to a landlord are:

  • costs that the landlord's business cannot afford, taking into account any outside sources of funding, or
  • health and safety problems so serious that they outweigh the benefit of having more accessible housing

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Reviewed: August 1, 2016

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