Discrimination while choosing prospective tenants and dealing with current ones is something that Toronto landlords need to be extremely careful about. Being found to have committed an act of discrimination, whether directly or indirectly, can put an end to your career as a landlord. Ontario’s Human Rights Code clearly outlines what is considered to be discrimination, and all landlords should be familiar with it.
The Ontario Human Rights Code
Since housing is considered to be a human right for all, Ontario’s Human Rights Code clearly states that everybody has the right to equal treatment when seeking housing, free of both discrimination and harassment. The Code applies to both Ontario landlords and tenants, tasking landlords with the responsibility to ensure that housing environments are free of discrimination and harassment. The Code outlines a number of things that Ontario landlords can’t discriminate deny applicants based on or discriminate against, including:
- Religious beliefs
- Place of origin
- Sex, pregnancy, and gender identity
- Sexual orientation
- Family and marital status
- Age (including young people who aren’t living with their parents)
- Receipt of social assistance
These rules apply to people who are seeking rental housing or looking to buy a home or condo anywhere in Ontario. The Code covers every step of the rental process including choosing tenants, lease agreements and rules, use of services and facilities, general enjoyment of the premises, and eviction.
What counts as discrimination?
Discrimination is generally categorized as being direct or indirect – both are considered to be equal in the eyes of the Human Rights Code. Direct discrimination is more overt in nature, including doing things like rejecting applicants based on their skin colour or religious beliefs. Sexually harassing an applicant or tenant is another form of direct discrimination. Indirect discrimination, while just as serious, can be difficult to identify. These indirect forms of discrimination can include certain actions or lack of actions, such as refusing to accommodate a tenant in a wheelchair, or only enforcing noise violation rules for families with young children. Refusing tenants with no credit history is also considered to be a form of indirect discrimination, as it is seen as being discriminatory against young people and new Canadians.
The only situations where the Human Rights Code doesn’t apply to rental housing is when landlords are strictly renting all units in a building to members of one sex, or when tenants share the same bathroom and/or kitchen with the landlord and their family.
The rights of all Ontario tenants and landlords
Ontario landlords have to respect and maintain the rights of tenants at all times. All tenants in Ontario have a set of basic rights that include vital services such as heating, water, and electricity, a safe home in good repair, privacy, controlled annual rent increases, the right to have children in their home, and written copies of a tenancy agreement.
Similarly, all Ontario landlords are given basic rights, with tenants having responsibilities that include paying rent on time, repairing damages caused by guests as a result of non-normal use, being reasonably quiet, obeying the law, and honoring a lease or tenancy agreement. Failure to meet these basic needs can have disastrous results for both tenants and landlords, including (but not limited to) evictions, financial penalties, and hearings at the Landlord and Tenant Board or Ontario Human Rights Commission.
Toronto property management companies like HighGate Properties screen all tenant applicants with strict adherence to the Human Rights Code, ensuring that all tenants and applicants are treated equally and that rules are followed closely. The property management experts at HighGate Properties are experienced in all aspects of tenant screening, property maintenance and management, allowing you to focus on the more important things in your life.
For more information about the Toronto property management and realty services offered by the experienced team at Highgate Properties, contact us today.