With discrimination being a hot topic currently, we have previously discussed some of the different types of discrimination (here and here) that landlord’s need to be aware of. But what actually happens if a landlord is found to guilty of violating a tenant’s human’s right protected by the non-discrimination policies in the Residential Tenancy act?
Let’s consider a recent case between a landlord in Ontario and his two tenants. The landlord in this case is now having to pay his tenants out a total of $12,000! Specifically, $6,000 to each of the tenants, who the courts have determined were facing discrimination based on their Islamic faith.
In this specific case, the tenants and landlords had previous disputes over temperature and sound, where the tenants and landlord had agreed to terminating the lease after only 2 months’ time. Which is all good, as the parties had agreed to the early termination of the lease.
However, the real issue occurred on the landlord showing the property to potential future tenants. The landlord did properly provide the tenants with 24-hour notice of showing by email, giving the tenants 3-4 hour blocks of time when the showing would occur. However, the tenants asked to be informed an hour before the showing. A seemingly simple request, that the landlord choose to ignore.
Further, the couple went further to explain the nature of this request, hoping that the landlord would be more understanding of the request. The couple made this request specifically so that the showing of the property would not interrupt their prayer time. As practicing Muslims, the couple would pray 5 times a day, at specific times, and were wishing to do so uninterrupted. With the hour notice, the couple could reschedule their prayer time as necessary, meaning they could pray uninterrupted and accommodate the property showing. Further, the tenants requested the hour notice to ensure that the female tenant was in “modest attire,” to comply with another tenet of her faith, when the property was being showed.
Lastly, this landlord went even further to disrespect these tenants and their religion. As part of their Islamic beliefs, the space where the couple would pray must be cleaned to certain standards. This meant that the tenants would ask the landlord and the potential tenants to remove their shoes on entering the property. They requested this to prevent contamination of their pray space, specifically the bedroom. The potential tenants being shown the space would accommodate this request without pause, as again it is seemingly a simple request. However, the landlord would not, as he continually walked thru the rental property and the bedroom with his shoes on, resulting in continual additional work for the couple as they had to re-clean their prayer space after every contamination by the landlords shoes.
The courts eventually ruled in the tenant’s favor, rewards both tenants $6,000 to be paid out by the landlord and the landlord having to take a course on Human Rights and rental housing. Twelve thousand dollars is an expensive price tag for not respecting a few simple requests.
Discrimination is serious business, with a price tag to match, so a smart landlord will make sure they are not guilty of even the simplest discrimination. Hopefully, this landlord has learned his lesson and new landlord can learn from him and without having to pay the expensive price tag.
For more on this specific case, check out the links below.