Ruling in favour of teen tenant causes uproar

Sunday, August 24th, 2014

Landlords are up in arms after a Tribunal ordered a Toronto landlord to pay a young woman for denying her an apartment because she was under-18.

Grainne Burns

Investors have been warned again about the implications of age discrimination in light of a ruling in favour of a then underage tenant.

The Ontario Human Rights Tribunal recently ordered a landlord to pay a young woman $10,000 for denying her an apartment because she was under-18.

The woman was 17 when she applied for a bachelor apartment at 500 Dawes Rd., the rental building that is often cited as one of the worst in Toronto with reports of mice, bed bugs, broken heating, mould and fire damage.

The building superintendent told the woman that the building had a policy of not renting to anyone under-18 despite Ontario law stating that 16 and 17-year olds can sign leases.

The ruling ordered the payout for injury to the woman’s “dignity, feelings and self-respect,” with the landlord claiming during the hearing that the apartment was not vacant at time of application. The adjudicator also reported that the landlord tried to influence a witness to deny that age was a deciding factor and that she fabricated evidence.

The landlord was also ordered to develop a human rights policy specific to rental housing for 500 Dawes Rd., to post the policy and the Ontario Human Rights Commission’s Code in the rental office, and to provide human rights training to anyone who shows prospective tenants units in the building.

While much of the focus has been on the landlord and building, other investors have raised their concerns about the age ruling and general leniency, once again, towards tenants in such cases.

“No property owner should be told who they should rent to,” says Kayla Andrade from Ontario Landlords Watch. “Landlords should be allowed to choose whomever they want for their properties and should not feel obligated or pressurised to allow someone they do not feel comfortably with in their rental property.”

She advises landlords to explain to each potential tenant viewing the rental unit that they will only be contacted if they are accepted. “Landlords should not give potential tenants a reason why they did not get accepted.”

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