Do you know about Ontario’s fair housing laws? Hey landlords, this one’s for you! Think of the fair housing laws as a set of rules to make sure everyone gets a fair chance when looking for housing. It means no one is left out or treated badly because of who they are.
In this article, we’ll break down this aspect of rental laws in Ontario in easy-to-grasp terms, so you can be sure you’re doing things right and keeping things friendly with your tenants.
Let’s get started and make renting in Ontario a great experience for all!
A short introduction to fair housing laws in Ontario
The fair housing laws stand as a testament to the province’s dedication to ensuring that every individual, regardless of their background or personal circumstances, has an equitable chance at securing a home without facing discrimination or prejudice.
For landlords, understanding these laws is important. It sets out guidelines that not only protect tenants but also lay out the responsibilities and expectations for housing providers.
In essence, the fair housing laws in Ontario create a harmonious and inclusive housing market, where everyone can find a place to call home.
What’s legal and what’s not?
Navigating the intricacies of fair housing laws can be daunting, but as landlords, it’s essential to know what is legally acceptable and what isn’t when it comes to housing in Ontario.
Here’s a breakdown:
Legal Under Fair Housing Laws
- Rent Increases: Landlords can increase the rent, but there are guidelines about how often and by how much. Usually, a 12-month gap is required between rent increases, and there’s a percentage cap on how much the rent can go up.
- Screening Tenants: It’s legal to screen tenants based on their ability to pay rent, rental history, or references.
- Setting Standard Lease Terms: Landlords can outline terms such as rent payment methods, pet policies (unless a pet is a service or support animal), and maintenance responsibilities.
- Evictions for Just Cause: Evictions are legal under specific circumstances like non-payment of rent, illegal activities, or if the landlord requires the unit for their own use.
Illegal Under Fair Housing Laws
- Harassment: Harassing a tenant, either by the landlord or other tenants, especially on the grounds mentioned above, is prohibited.
- Unjust Rent Increases: Implementing a rent hike without giving the required notice or exceeding the allowed percentage is illegal.
- Unlawful Evictions: Evicting tenants without proper reason or not following the legal eviction process.
- Refusing Service Animals: Despite a no-pet policy, landlords cannot refuse service or support animals as they are essential for some people with disabilities.
- Retaliation: Taking punitive actions against tenants for asserting their rights or filing a complaint.
- Ignoring Maintenance and Repair Requests: Neglecting to maintain a habitable environment.
Human rights code in Ontario
In Ontario, the Human Rights Code protects both tenants and landlords. This Code ensures that tenants are treated equally in housing, without facing prejudice or unwelcome behaviour. Landlords must ensure their properties are places where no tenant is treated unfairly or harassed.
Tenants cannot be denied a rental, be troubled by a housing provider or other residents, or face unjust treatment based on any of the following reasons under the Ontario Human Rights Code:
- Their race, skin colour, or cultural background.
- Their religious views or practices.
- Their ancestry.
- Where they were born.
- Their citizenship, even if they’re a refugee.
- Their gender, pregnancy status, or gender identity.
- Their family situation.
- Being married or having a same-sex partner.
- Any disabilities they might have.
- Who they’re attracted to.
- Their age, especially if they’re 16 or 17 and don’t live with their parents anymore.
- If they receive public help to cover basic expenses.
Additionally, if tenants are discriminated against because they’re close to someone from the categories above, that’s not acceptable either.
A simple guide for landlords: Choosing tenants
When selecting tenants, there are specific guidelines you should follow:
What You Can Ask
- You can ask about their rental history, credit references, and even perform credit checks.
- If someone doesn’t have much rental or credit history, that shouldn’t be seen as a bad thing.
- You can ask about their income to ensure they can pay the rent.
- If you’re asking about income, make sure you’re also considering their rental history and credit checks.
- Only focus on income if the tenant doesn’t provide any other info.
What’s Not Allowed
Avoid using a fixed rent-to-income rule like the “30% rule.” It means you shouldn’t reject someone just because the rent is more than 30% of their income.
The only exception? For places where the rent changes based on income, you can consider the tenant’s income.
You can ask tenants to have a “guarantor” sign the lease, which is someone who promises to pay the rent if the tenant doesn’t. But, you should ask this of all tenants, not just specific groups like recent immigrants or those on social assistance.
Remember, apart from these points, the Code doesn’t allow any other inquiries. So, keeping things fair and straightforward is the best approach!
How landlords can promote fair housing
Landlords have a big role in making housing fair for everyone. Here’s how they can help:
- Have clear policies that don’t allow any form of discrimination or harassment.
- Regularly check if there are things that make it hard for some people to get or stay in a rental. This includes rules about guests, how many people can stay in a room, and waiting lists.
- Have a way to handle special requests from tenants and solve any problems quickly and in a good way.
- Organise training sessions about fair housing so everyone involved in operating your rental property knows what to do.
- When making new rules or buildings, think of everyone. Make sure there’s nothing new that could be unfair.
- If someone needs a change or help, try your best to make it happen in a way that’s respectful and private.
Understanding Ontario’s fair housing laws is crucial for fostering harmony and fairness in the housing sector. Landlords play a significant role in this, ensuring everyone has an equal chance at a place they can call home.
Courtesy of rentinottawa.com
Disclaimer: Please note that the information provided in this blog is intended for general guidance and should not be considered as a replacement for professional legal advice. It is important to be aware that laws pertaining to property management may change, rendering this information outdated by the time you read it.