A young person in Ontario who was denied housing based on her age has recovered an award of $10,000 from a prospective landlord.
In addition, the landlord was ordered to develop a human rights policy and train staff.
The Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario found that the young tenant, a 17-year-old girl, was particularly vulnerable, and that she relied on adults to act within the law when leasing rental property.
In this case, the tenant had been a Crown ward since she was 13 years old, was homeless, and was attempting to finish high school. Her rent would have been paid through a guaranteed government source.
The tenant claimed that she called the apartment building manager and asked to see a vacant unit. She said she chose the building because she knew someone who lived there. The prospective tenant was provided a tour, and then told the manager that she wanted the unit. The manager gave the prospective tenant a blank application, and then asked her age. When the applicant revealed that she was 17, she says the manager rejected her. The leasing agent allegedly explained that a previous 17-year-old tenant had trashed a unit, and that the landlord would not be able to claim damages, so as a policy, the landlord would no longer rent to a 17-year-old.
The Tribunal points to the applicable sections of the Ontario Human Rights Code, which provide:
“Every person has a right to equal treatment with respect to the occupancy of accommodation, without discrimination because of race, ancestry, place of origin, colour, ethnic origin, citizenship, creed, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, age, marital status, family status, disability or the receipt of public assistance.”
“Every sixteen or seventeen year old person who has withdrawn from parental control has a right to equal treatment with respect to occupancy of and contracting for accommodation without discrimination because the person is less than eighteen years old.”
“A contract for accommodation entered into by a sixteen or seventeen year old person who has withdrawn from parental control is enforceable against that person as if the person were eighteen years old.”
The Tribunal went on to explain that intent to discriminate is not a governing factor in construing human rights legislation.
A social worker assisting the tenant referred her to The Centre for Equality Rights in Accommodation to evaluate her case. A CERA representative contacted the landlord’s employee and explained that the decision to reject the tenant on the basis of age was illegal. Despite that information, and a warning of possible legal action, the manager and landlord continued to deny the tenant’s application to rent.
It took this tenant a significant amount of time to find replacement housing. During that time she was forced to stay with an abusive boyfriend and was on occasion homeless. The Tribunal criticized the landlord for discriminating against a vulnerable member of society, and found that the tenant suffered loss of dignity and other injury before awarding the tenant $10,000.
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Disclaimer: The information provided in this post in not intended to be construed as legal advice, nor should it be considered a substitute for obtaining individual legal counsel or consulting your local, state, federal or provincial tenancy laws.