Every person has the right to be free from discrimination in housing because of Code-protected grounds. You have the right to equal treatment when buying, selling, renting or being evicted from an apartment, house, condominium or commercial property. This right also covers renting or being evicted from a hotel room.
The Code applies to terms and conditions in contracts and leases such as the amount of rent, security deposits, the need for guarantors, occupants’ rules and regulations, ending a lease and eviction.
Your right to housing without discrimination also includes suitable access to doors, laundry rooms, swimming pools, other common areas, repairs and other aspects of housing.
Housing and age
You must be at least 18 years old to file a human rights application based on age, or 16 or 17 years old when you have legally withdrawn from your parents’ authority. If you claim this right when you are 16 or 17 years old, you have the same legal responsibilities you would if you were 18 years old.
Housing and public assistance
A landlord cannot discriminate because of a person’s income source, such as social assistance, family benefits, disability pension, or other forms of public assistance.
The right to be free from discrimination in housing does not apply if you share housing and a bathroom or kitchen facility with the owner or the owner’s family.
The right to be free from discrimination based on sex does not apply to residences that are male-only or female-only. An owner of a residence can restrict access to that residence to men only or women only. Trans people should be provided access to these residences in accordance with their lived gender identity.
Lease applications and tenant screening
Landlords can use income information, credit checks, credit references, rental history, guarantees or other similar business practices for selecting tenants, as long as they do so in a way that is consistent with the Code and its regulations.
Regulation 290/98 under the Code allows landlords to request income information from a prospective tenant only if the landlord also requests credit references, rental history, and credit checks. The landlord must consider income information together with all the other information obtained.
The Regulation specifically reaffirms that none of these assessment tools may be used in an unfair way to screen out prospective tenants based on Code grounds. The criteria must be used in a genuine and non-discriminatory way.
It is discrimination, under the ground of family status, if you are denied housing because you have children. Adult-only buildings are not permitted in Ontario except for specific situations such as subsidized seniors’ residences or care facilities.
Harassment in housing
Everyone has the right to be free from harassment in housing because of Code-protected grounds. “Harassment” means comments or actions that are unwelcome to you or should be known to be unwelcome. You have the right to be free from humiliating or offensive conduct that is based on one or more of the Code grounds. Harassment requires a “course of conduct,” which means that a pattern of behaviour or more than one incident is usually required. For example, a landlord’s repeated demeaning comments about how a tenant uses a wheelchair could be harassment in housing. However, one incident may be enough to support a finding of harassment where the incident creates a poisoned environment.
You might feel that your housing is hostile or unwelcoming to you because of insulting or degrading comments or actions that have been made about you or others based on a ground in the Code. When comments or actions of this kind have an influence on others and how they are treated, this is known as a “poisoned environment.” A poisoned environment cannot, however, be based only on your personal views. You must have facts to show that an objective person would see that the comments or conduct would make a person feel unwelcome based on Code grounds.