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What About Tenant Screening and Human Rights?

March 11th, 2012 · No Comments · human rights

March 11, 2012


The Ontario Residential Tenancies Act isn’t the only piece of legislation that is of importance to landlords.  The Ontario Human Rights Act is also  relevant to landlords.  Not only can the Ontario Human Rights Code affect the relationship between landlord and tenant, but it is also impacts the tenant selection process.  For the moment, we are going to look at some very basic ways the Ontario Human Rights Code affects the tenant selection process.

Ontario Human Rights Code, a brief background.

The Ontario Human Rights Code is a provincial statute which prohibits discriminatory practice in respect to the provision of services,  and goods and facilities.  It isn’t difficult to consider rental housing a good or service, but just so there was no doubt , lawmakers placed rental housing under the broad category of accommodation.

Landlords need to make themselves aware of what may be construed as a discriminatory practice.   Landlords are not permitted to engage in discriminatory practice when selecting tenants and are required to go to considerable lengths to accommodate a tenant’s disability.   Telling a prospective tenant they may not be suitable for a rental unit because they are not ‘mature’ enough can be interpreted as discrimination based on age, should the landlord decide not to rent to the prospective tenant.  Similarly, rejecting a rental an application based on the fact an applicant does not have a Canadian credit history can be viewed as discrimination based on ancestry or country or origin.  Human Rights legislation is more important than ever.

While discrimination may be alive and well in Ontario, a landlord would be foolish to act with out regard for human rights legislation.

There have been many successful applications to the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal, regarding discrimination in housing issues.  The fines can be severe.

Yes, the forms are complex, but there are legal clinics all over the province offering no fee advocacy for tenants.  Tenants who utilize these services receive professional representation.   Don’t be lulled into a false sense of security.

It is true many applications are abandoned.   It is also true that many human rights applications are settled prior to a formal hearing.  Don’t think that getting to a mediated settlement is easy or inexpensive.  It will take time, and perhaps a lawyer or paralegal to hammer out a settlement.  Then of course, there is the expense of the terms of settlement agreed to during mediation.

The next post will look at the Human Rights Code and how it impacts the type of information landlords may seek from prospective tenants.  I will also look at a few cases, in which landlords were given very expensive educations about Human Rights, and tenant selection in Ontario.

Informational purposes only. Always consult a paralegal or lawyer.