Harassment and discrimination
If your landlord, anyone acting for your landlord, or anyone living in your building discriminates against you, they may be breaking an Ontario law called the Human Rights Code.
Discrimination in housing means being treated unfairly because:
- of your race or colour, your birthplace, citizenship or ethnic background, your religion, age, sex, disability, marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression,
- you are pregnant or have children, or
- you receive social assistance or welfare.
Sometimes discrimination is direct. For example, a landlord might treat you badly because of your colour or religion. Or a landlord might make sexual advances knowing that you do not want them.
Other kinds of discrimination are less direct. For example, a landlord might refuse to put in a ramp or make other changes for a tenant who uses a wheelchair. There might be strict rules about noise that are harder for people with children to follow. Or a landlord might refuse to rent to people who have no credit rating. This can be a problem for young people and for people who are new to Canada. Landlords who will not change things like these to meet the needs of tenants could be discriminating against those tenants.
In two situations, the Human Rights Code does not protect tenants who are looking for a place to rent. The law allows a landlord to:
- rent all the units in a building to tenants of one sex, and
- refuse to rent to a prospective tenant for any reason if the landlord or the landlord's family is going to be sharing a kitchen or bathroom with the tenant.
What you can do about discrimination
Like harassment, discrimination can sometimes be hard to prove. It is a good idea to keep notes about what has happened.
Some cases of discrimination can be dealt with by the Landlord and Tenant Board. In other situations, you may have to take your case to the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario, or you may have to choose one or the other. It is usually best to get legal advice first. See the section called Where to get help.