The next topic I want to talk about is discrimination and renting a home. Discrimination occurs when you treat people differently because of their personal characteristics and it affects them negatively. Personal characteristics are things like age, race, religion or gender.
Human rights laws protect you from discrimination when you are looking for a place to rent or buy, and when you are renting. According to the BC Human Rights Code, landlords cannot discriminate against tenants or potential tenants based on personal characteristics – except in specific circumstances. Does anyone know when a landlord can consider personal characteristics?
Person 3: Some buildings only rent to people who are 55 years of age or older. That’s a personal characteristic and that’s legal, right?
Yes, that’s right. It is legal to have housing for seniors only. Similarly, it is not against the law to rent only to people with disabilities if the building is set up for that purpose. There are other conditions too, does anyone know what they are?
Person 2: Well, if you are sharing a place, you can decide to rent only to women, right?
Good example. Landlords can choose who they rent to if people will be sharing a kitchen, bathroom, or bedroom with others. If someone wanted to rent rooms in his or her home, and everyone would share a common space – he or she could choose the tenant based on personal characteristics. So, if a woman wants to rent an apartment with shared space to another woman, that’s OK. Or, if a Muslim person wants to rent an apartment with shared space only to another Muslim person, that’s OK too. It’s not discrimination.
Person 1: But it would be discrimination if those people wanted to rent an apartment with no shared space, right?
Yes, that’s right.
Person 5: I’ve heard that landlords sometimes don’t rent to people because they’re on welfare. Is that discrimination?
Yes, that happens and it is discrimination. A landlord cannot discriminate against you because of where your income comes from. So if a landlord refuses to rent to someone because the rental payment would be coming from the government, that is discrimination. However, it is OK for a landlord not to rent to someone who is unable to show that he has enough income to pay the rent.
Person 5: What about once you’ve rented the place and moved in, then you lose your job and go on Employment Insurance?
Landlords cannot evict you because of where your income comes from – for example, if you go on Employment Insurance or a disability pension. That’s discrimination. Landlords cannot treat you differently than any other tenant based your on personal characteristics. But they can evict you if you don’t pay your rent on time.
Last reviewed: March 2016
IMPORTANT: This page provides legal information, not legal advice. If you need legal advice consult a lawyer.
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