While the Residential Tenancy Act is the main piece of legislation that governs tenants’ and landlords’ rights and responsibilities, section 10 of the BC Human Rights Code provides tenants with additional protections concerning discrimination in tenancies.
A landlord may not refuse to rent to you because of your:
- place of origin
- marital status
- family status
- physical or mental disability
- sexual orientation
- age (if 19 or older)
- lawful source of income
Key Referral: If you think you may have been discriminated against, contact the BC Human Rights Clinic at 1-855-685-6222.
A Closer Look
Family status: Landlords can restrict the number of occupants in your rental unit, but they are not allowed to refuse to rent to you because you have children. If you are searching for housing with a boyfriend or girlfriend, a landlord cannot refuse to rent to you because you are unmarried.
Lawful source of income: Landlords are not allowed to discriminate based on your source of income, as long as it is legal. For example, you cannot be refused a tenancy because you receive income from welfare, disability benefits, or student loans.
Age: Section 3 of the Residential Tenancy Act (RTA) allows landlords to rent to minors (under age 19). If you are a minor who has entered into a tenancy agreement with a landlord, you have all the same rights and responsibilities as any other tenant protected by the RTA. However, if you are under age 19, landlords are allowed to lawfully discriminate and not rent to you because of your age.
There are a few exceptions to the protected grounds listed in section 10 of the BC Human Rights Code. The laws about discrimination may not apply if:
- the applicant will be sharing sleeping, bathroom, or cooking facilities with another person;
- the building is designated for adults age 55 and older; or
- the unit has the required permits to be designated for people with disabilities.
Landlords have a duty to accommodate a tenant’s disability, up to the point of undue hardship. This means that if a disabled tenant requires part of their building, or a building policy, to be changed in order to use their rental accommodation fully and with dignity, their landlord must comply as long as it does not cause unreasonable challenges. For example, if a tenant in a wheelchair requires a ramp to get into their building, or a blind tenant requires brail to be installed in the elevator, their landlord may be required to accommodate these disabilities. In order for a landlord to prove that accommodating a disability would cause undue hardship, they generally have to show that paying for the accommodation would make it difficult for them to continue providing adequate services as a landlord, or that it would significantly interfere with other tenants’ rights in the building.
- RTB does not have jurisdiction to apply Human Rights Code