Human Rights in Rental Housing

The Ontario Human Rights Code is a provincial law which assures equal rights and opportunities for all people without discrimination.  The foundations of the Ontario Human Rights Code are established by international law pursuant to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and nationally under the Canadian Charter of Right and Freedoms.

The Ontario Human Rights Code (the Code) assures equal rights and opportunities for all people without discrimination in five areas social areas, these include:

  • Services, goods and facilities
  • Housing accommodation
  • Contracts
  • Employment
  • Vocational Associations

The protected grounds to prevent discrimination and harassment include:

  • Citizenship
  • Race
  • Place of origin
  • Ethnic origin
  • Colour
  • Ancestry
  • Disability
  • Age
  • Creed
  • Sex (pregnancy)
  • family status
  • Marital status
  • Sexual orientation
  • Gender identity
  • Gender expression
  • Receipt of public assistance (housing only)
  • Record of offence (employment only)

Discrimination also includes:

  • Intersecting grounds, treating people differently on more than one ground
  • Association, treating people differently because a friend or family member identifies with a ground
  • Perceived grounds, treating people differently because of a belief they identify with a Code ground

The Ontario Human Rights Code takes priority over other legislation, this means if there is a conflict between the provisions of the Code and the Residential Tenancies Act, for example, the Code must be followed first unless an exception is specified.

The Ontario Human Rights system includes three organizations:

  • The Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario deals with complaints of discrimination under the Human Rights Code.  Complaints are resolved through mediation and/or hearings with adjudicators.
  • The Human Rights Legal Support Centre offers legal services to individuals (usually not landlords) who believe they have experienced discrimination.
  • The Ontario Human Rights Commission the independent statutory body that provides leadership for the promotion, protection and advancement of human rights, and builds partnerships across the human rights system and society.

Residential landlords, small or large, must learn, develop and comply with a variety of duties and obligations established for housing providers under the Code as well as policies developed by the Commission, including the Human Rights and Rental Housing Policy.

LSHC previously hosted a webinar featuring an excellent presentation made by Harry Fine, President of Landlord Solutions and a former member of LSHC’s Board of Directors. Harry is a paralegal specializing in the area of the landlord and tenant law. The following is a link to Human Rights Code and Rental Housing which are the slides used by Harry containing detailed information about the history of the Ontario Human Rights Code and the obligations and responsibilities of landlords under the Code.

Skip to content