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3.15 Discrimination

Discrimination is the unfair treatment of certain types of people.  Generally speaking, a landlord may not refuse to rent to a tenant because of:

  • race
  • colour
  • ancestry
  • place of origin
  • religion
  • marital status
  • family status
  • physical or mental disability
  • sex
  • sexual orientation
  • age (if 19 or over)
  • lawful source of income.

Most of these are pretty straightforward, but let’s look at a couple points more closely:

  • Family status:  a landlord is allowed to restrict the number of occupants in your rental unit, but they are not allowed to refuse to rent to you because you have children. Also, if you are looking to find a place with a boyfriend or girlfriend, a landlord may not refuse to rent to you because you are unmarried.
  • Age:  The Residential Tenancy Act allows minors (people under age 19) to rent.  In fact, this is quite common.  If you are a minor and have a tenancy agreement with a landlord, you have all the same rights and responsibilities as any other tenant.  However, be aware that if you are under age 19, landlords can choose to not rent to you because of your age.
  • Lawful source of income: A landlord is allowed to ensure that you will be able to pay the rent. This could include asking to see recent paystubs, ordering a credit check, or contacting your employer to verify employment. However, they are not allowed to discriminate based on your source of income, as long as it is legal. For example, many renters receive income from welfare, disability pensions, or student loans.  

Yes, there are three important exceptions regarding landlord discrimination:

  1. If you will be sharing a kitchen, bathroom, or bedroom with the landlord, they are allowed to lawfully discriminate.  For example, a woman renting out a room in her rental unit can decide to only rent to other women.
  2. Landlords may impose age or family status restrictions if every unit in their building is designated for adults age 55 or older.
  3. Some buildings may reserve rental units only for people with disabilities or low incomes.