A Guide to the Fair Housing Act in Canada
As a landlord in Canada, it’s crucial to familiarize yourself with federal Fair Housing Laws so you can ensure your tenants are treated fairly and in accordance with the law. In this blog post, we’ll guide you through what you need to know about providing fair housing to your Saskatchewan tenants.
Reasons to Accept or Reject a Tenant Application According to the Fair Housing Act
Before deciding on a tenant, it is your job as a landlord to ensure that whichever tenant you choose to occupy your rental property is trustworthy, responsible, and has a history of being a high-quality renter.
During your screening process, it’s important to know which questions you can’t ask a tenant, and which characteristics should not inform your tenant selection choice. A tenant cannot be refused housing based on any of the following traits:
- Race, color, or ethnicity
- Original birthplace
- Legal citizenship
- Biological sex
- Gender identity
- Familial status
- Marital status
- Sexual orientation
- Use of public assistance
- Association with anyone who displays the above traits
The main thing that you as a landlord need to know is whether or not the applicant will be a reliable tenant in your home. You can request the following information from a prospective tenant when conducting the screening process:
While a lack of rental history should not be grounds for rejecting an application, other factors can indicate whether a tenant may be problematic. Things like previous evictions or pending legal situations can be a red flag when it comes to a prospective tenant. If the renter has ever been sued for property damage, this is a valid reason to reject the application.
As a landlord in Canada, you have a legal obligation to meet any special accommodations that your tenants with disabilities may require from you. For example, if you have a tenant who uses a wheelchair, you may need to make changes to the property to ensure that it remains accessible to your tenant.
Legally, you are obligated to provide such accommodations as soon as possible unless they cause you undue hardship, such as a lack of outside funding or health and safety concerns. If accommodations can’t be provided promptly, then the landlord must also provide an interim solution.
These accommodations can also include taking care of social situations to ensure the tenant is comfortable while living on the property. For example, if a tenant is disturbing their neighbours right to quiet enjoyment based on an aspect of their protected class, the landlord must try to improve the situation if possible.
The privacy of your tenants should be one of your top priorities as a landlord. If a tenant shares private information with you regarding their being part of a protected group, such as disclosing their medical history, you may not disclose this to anyone else.
If a tenant is part of a protected group you should hold them to the same standards as other tenants.
For example, if the tenant fails to pay rent, you have the right to evict them, so long as they receive the same opportunities to fix the situation that any other tenant would.
If you want to help improve human rights when it comes to housing and avoid facing potential legal issues at your rental property, here are some preemptive measures that you can take.
- Create and enforce anti-discrimination and anti-harassment policies for your business and your rental property
- Review your rental property and consider and remove any barriers it may have when it comes to providing tenants with a comfortable living situation
- Create a policy and a system that allows you to effectively respond to accommodation requests quickly
- Create a policy that helps you resolve any disputes involving yourself, your tenants, and your property
- Do your best to participate in and share human rights educational resources when it comes to fair housing
Understanding your role as a landlord in providing equal housing opportunities is crucial to being a successful landlord and property investor.
For more information on property management or the Canadian Fair Housing Act, contact Leenan Property Management! Our team of experts is ready to help you provide the best care to all of your tenants.