FAQs: Human rights in residential and commercial tenancy

  1. Can my landlord evict me if I make a complaint to the Alberta Human Rights Commission?
    No. Retaliation for making or attempting to make a human rights complaint, or for participating in a human rights complaint process, is prohibited under section 10 of the Alberta Human Rights Act (the Act).

  2. Can a landlord refuse to rent to families with children?
    No, with some exceptions. Under the Act, family status is a protected ground in the area of tenancy. The Commission accepts complaints of discrimination under the ground of family status if the other requirements for accepting a complaint under the Act are also met.

    Currently, age is not a protected ground in the area of tenancy. Under the Act, age is defined as “18 years of age or older.” Some landlords do not allow children to live in their apartments or other rental property. For example, an apartment building may be restricted to seniors and allow only those over a certain age to reside there because the facility and services are designed specifically to meet the needs of seniors. Therefore, it may be reasonable and justifiable for that landlord to refuse to rent to families with children.

    In some cases, under human rights law, there may need to be exceptions to an age restriction in a seniors building. For example, a tenant may require a live-in caregiver due to a disability, and the caregiver could be younger than the allowable age. Or a tenant may need to care for a grandchild who must live with the resident on an emergency basis. In these cases, under human rights law, the landlord may need to allow the exemption, based on the protected ground of family status.

  3. I own a business. Does the Act cover my tenancy with a commercial landlord?

  4. Can a landlord ask about my income on an application to rent?
    Yes, however, a landlord may not discriminate against a person based on their source of income, provided that source of income is lawful. Courts and human rights tribunals have found discrimination based on source of income when a landlord refused to rent to a person because their source of income was social assistance, rental subsidies, AISH (Assured Income for the Severely Handicapped), or disability benefits.

  5. Can a landlord use a rent-to-income ratio to decide whether a tenant's income is high enough to afford a rental property?
    No. Courts have found that rent-to-income ratios unfairly disqualify groups based on race, gender, marital status, family status, place of origin and source of income. Courts have said that rent-to-income ratios are not reliable predictors of whether a person will default on their rent.

  6. Can a landlord ask a potential tenant for credit checks and references on an application to rent?
    Yes. Provided this information is not used in a discriminatory way, it is not contrary to the Act for a landlord to request a credit check or a reference from a previous landlord. The landlord’s process for screening tenants, including asking for a credit check or reference, should be applied to all potential tenants and should not be used to screen out applicants based on a protected ground.

Revised: October 25, 2017



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