Housing is a human right.
International law states that
people in Canada should be able to get
good housing that they can afford.
In Ontario, the Human Rights Code
applies to both tenants and landlords.
Everyone has the right to
equal treatment in housing without
discrimination or harassment.
Landlords are responsible for making
sure housing environments are free from
discrimination and harassment.
People cannot be refused an apartment,
bothered by a landlorrd or other tenants,
or otherwise treated unfairly because of their:
race, colour, ancestry or ethnic background
religious beliefs or practices
marital status, including those with a same-sex partner
place of origin
citizenship, including refugee status
family status, age, including individuals
who are 16 or 17 years old and no longer
living with their parents, disability
sex (including pregnancy)
gender identity or gender expression
sexual orientation, or because
they are in receipt of public assistance.
The right to equal treatment without
discrimination applies when renting a unit
or buying a home.
This right also applies to choosing or
evicting tenants, occupancy rules and
regulations, repairs, the use of related
services and facilities and the general
enjoyment of the premises.
The Ontario Human Rights Code says what
can and cannot be asked when choosing tenants.
Rental history, credit references and/or
credit checks may be requested. However,
a lack of rental or credit history
should not be viewed negatively.
Requesting employment history of newcomers
can result in systemic discrimination.
Landlords can ask for income information,
but they must also ask for and consider it
together with any available information
on rental history, credit references
and credit checks.
Income information can only be
considered on its own when no other
information is made available.
Income information should be limited
to confirming that the person has
enough income to cover the rent.
Landlords can also ask for a “guarantor”
to sign the lease – but only if
the landlord has the same requirements for
all tenants, not just for recent immigrants.
Unless the unit is subsidized housing,
it is illegal for landlords to apply
a rent-to-income ratio. An example is
a 30% cut-off rule where the rent
is 30% of the tenant’s income.
Landlords have a legal duty to
accommodate legitimate needs
based on Code grounds, such as disability,
family status or creed.
And landlords must accommodate
to the point of undue hardship.
The tenant and the landlord share
the responsibility of making the
accommodation work, by working together
to solve problems and by
providing necessary information.
The Code does not apply to
personality conflicts between the
tenant and the landlord, or
between tenants, that are
not linked to the Code.
If you find your housing rights
are being violated you can contact
the Centre for Equality Rights in Accommodation (CERA).
You may also contact the
Human Rights Legal Support Centre,
which has services in Arabic.