According to section 10 of the BC Human Rights Code, a landlord cannot refuse to rent to you because of your:
- Indigenous identity
- place of origin;
- marital status;
- family status;
- physical or mental disability;
- sexual orientation;
- age (if 19 or older); or
- lawful source of income.
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 person 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.
A Closer Look at Some Examples
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.
Physical or mental disability: 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.
See CLAS’s Blog Post, Mental Disabilities and Human Rights in Housing, for more information.
The BC Human Rights Tribunal is responsible for accepting, screening, mediating, and adjudicating human rights complaints, such as discrimination and harassment.
If you think you may have been discriminated against, contact the BC Human Rights Clinic – a free service operated by the Community Legal Assistance Society. If accepted as a client, a legal advocate or lawyer will advise you on the BC Human Rights Tribunal process, work with you to develop and prepare required documentation, and represent you at any settlement meetings or tribunal hearings.
- RTB does not have jurisdiction to apply Human Rights Code