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Employment & Labour, Human Rights

Age discrimination alleged in condo rental dispute

The case of a young couple who claim they were denied a condo rental because of their age highlights the importance of knowing one's rights, says Toronto employment and human rights lawyer Nicole Simes.

Simes, associate with MacLeod Law Firm, says some landlords may have been getting away with age discrimination because many young renters don't realize it’s against the law.

“Whether it’s in accommodation or in employment, not knowing your rights means that you cannot assert them; you cannot stand up for yourself," Simes tells AdvocateDaily.com. "I definitely think that some people don’t have all of the information and aren’t able to make choices. Not everyone wants to launch a legal case when they’ve been discriminated against, but at least if they have the information, they have the choice.”

Simes says the young Toronto couple's matter is not unique.

The couple, aged 22 and 23, have filed a complaint with the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal against the landlord they claim turned them down because of their age, the CBC reports.

They found a two-bedroom condo for $1,900 a month and applied to move in. With a combined income of nearly $80,000, they were confident they could afford the place, they told the CBC. They also planned to have two of their sisters move in to help cover costs.

Then the couple received an email from a real estate official who allegedly wrote: "After discussing it with my client, she's decided that she would not like to have four young adults living in her apartment. They’re in their early 20s, and my client wasn’t interested in the potential problems that may rise from it.”

Simes isn’t surprised that young people face discrimination.

“It certainly happens. Particularly in our very competitive rental market in Toronto, but usually, landlords, superintendents and property rental companies are not so explicit as this one appears to be in their reasons for not choosing an applicant,” she says.

Age discrimination is prohibited by law, and, if their allegations are true, I think they have a very good chance of being successful,” says Simes.

She says people are protected under s.2 of the Ontario Human Rights Code from discrimination based on their age.

“That section says that every person has a right to equal treatment with respect to occupancy of accommodation. People are protected from discrimination on all of the grounds listed under the Code. Those include race, religion, sex, gender identity, marital status, family status, disability, and age,” Simes says.

She says filing the human rights complaint serves the public interest.

“It certainly seems like the landlord or property manager did not realize that they cannot deny applicants because of age, so this has been a public education piece, if nothing more,” says Simes.

“Even if the individuals do not follow through, the amount of media attention that’s been paid to this issue is relevant. Those reading these articles realize that there is a legal issue here and there may be consequences for this landlord.”

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