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Consumer Guide to Human Rights
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This FAQ explains how the Human Rights Code impacts you as a consumer, and what rights buyers and sellers have under the code.
What does the Human Rights Code mean to me as a client?
Under the Human Rights Code, you cannot be discriminated against or denied any accommodation, service or facility available to the public or based on age, ancestry, colour, criminal conviction, family status, gender expression, gender identity, marital status, mental or physical disability, place of origin, political belief, race, religion, sex, sexual orientation, or source of income.
This means a real estate professional cannot deny you services based on these reasons. However, they can deny services for other reasons such as you are living in an area they don’t service, you disagree on what services they provide, or you disagree on remuneration etc.
Can a seller refuse to sell or rent me their home based on the characteristics noted above?
No, the Human Rights Code states that a person must not deny anyone the opportunity to purchase an interest in land or the right to lease and occupy a property that is represented as being available for sale or lease because of age, ancestry, colour, criminal conviction, family status, gender expression, gender identity, marital status, mental or physical disability, place of origin, political belief, race, religion, sex, sexual orientation, or source of income.
What do I do if I am renting a property and need my landlord and their rental property manager to accommodate my need for use of a wheelchair?
First, you should have a discussion with your landlord or rental property manager to try to find a mutually agreeable solution. Perhaps they can help find you a property that designed to be wheelchair accessible or modifying a space to make it wheelchair accessible.
According to the Human Rights Commission, the law requires that you participate in trying to find an acceptable solution. Your landlord must try and accommodate your request to the point of undue hardship. Undue hardship can be claimed by your landlord if the accommodation becomes too costly for them bear or creates health and safety risks for others.
An example where undue hardship may come into play would be a tenant with a prescription to use cannabis who is renting a room in a house with someone who has severe asthma. The landlord may be able to argue that the risk to the tenant with asthma makes it impossible for the landlord to accommodate cannabis smoking inside.
If I am renting a property, would the Residential Tenancy Branch hear my human rights complaint?
If you are filing a human rights complaint, even if it is in relation to a tenancy issue or strata issue, you should file with the Human Rights Tribunal. The Residential Tenancy Branch and Civil Resolution Tribunal will typically not hear complaints with a human rights component.
You may also have other legal recourse for violations under the Canadian Charter of Rights and should seek independent legal advice.
How long do I have to file my complaint with the Human Rights Tribunal?
You have one year from the date of the alleged discrimination to file your complaint.
This content was developed with financial support from the Real Estate Foundation of BC.