Residential and commercial tenancy: How to resolve a complaint
In some situations, individuals who believe that a landlord has discriminated against them may get the best results by first trying to resolve the issue on their own. A call to the landlord may get the issue looked into or the matter resolved. In some cases, the landlord will not be aware that they have done anything discriminatory. When told of the problem or concern, the landlord may stop the discrimination and correct any inequity they might have caused.
Both landlords and tenants can contact the Alberta Human Rights Commission for information about their rights and responsibilities related to human rights. An individual may decide to make a human rights complaint to the Commission. A complaint must be made within one year after the alleged incident of discrimination. For details on the Commission's human rights complaint process, see Making and resolving human rights complaints.
Before a complaint is made to the Commission, tenants and landlords can try to resolve the matter using the following tips. Trying to resolve a complaint before it goes to the Commission can help both the landlord and the tenant:
- find a solution quickly;
- open a dialogue with each other;
- create a better, mutually satisfying solution to the issue; and
- save the relationship between landlord and tenant.
For the tenant
Try talking to the landlord and explaining the situation fully. If the problem is between you and another tenant, then try to resolve it with the other tenant first if possible. Only approach the other tenant if you do not feel your safety is at risk.
It is important to notify the landlord of the cause of the discrimination. You may find that writing a letter to the landlord can help to clarify your thoughts. Explain:
- what happened;
- when it happened;
- who you are complaining about;
- how it made you feel; and
- what you would like to happen to fix the situation.
Use non-accusatory language and assume your landlord wants to help with the situation. This will show your landlord that you are prepared to work out the issue together. You may also offer to get some information from the Commission so that you can work together to resolve the issue.
For the landlord
Tenants who come to you with a complaint may be considering making a human rights complaint to the Commission. By listening with an open mind to their complaint before they go to the Commission, you may prevent further legal action. Here are some tips:
- Try to get the entire story from the tenant. The more details you understand about the situation, the more likely you will be able to find a creative and mutually satisfying solution.
- Be respectful and let the tenant know that you care about their concerns.
- Remember that, as a landlord, you have a legal duty to accommodate tenants. Review the Commission interpretive bulletin Duty to accommodate. This will help you decide what is required and how to resolve requests for accommodation.
Revised: March 9, 2010
The Alberta Human Rights Commission is an independent commission of the Government of Alberta.
Due to confidentiality concerns, the Commission cannot reply to complaints of discrimination by email. Please contact the Commission by phone or regular mail if you have a specific complaint.
You can access information about making FOIP requests for records held by the Commission on our Contact us page.
The Commission will make publications available in accessible formats upon request for people with disabilities who do not read conventional print.