Residential and commercial tenancy: What you need to know


Section 5 of the Alberta Human Rights Act prohibits discrimination in the area of residential and commercial tenancy on these grounds:

  • race
  • colour
  • ancestry
  • place of origin
  • religious beliefs
  • gender (including pregnancy and sexual harassment)
  • gender identity
  • gender expression 
  • physical disability
  • mental disability
  • age* 
  • marital status
  • family status
  • source of income
  • sexual orientation

*Age restrictions have not been permitted in rental buildings since January 1, 2018, unless they meet the exception for seniors-only housing. The minimum age cut-off for seniors-only housing is 55 years of age. Landlords can set age restrictions that are older than 55 as well. This applies to housing where all units are reserved for one or more people, at least one of whom is 55.

Based on these grounds, a landlord cannot:

  • deny a potential tenant the right to occupy an advertised unit; or
  • discriminate against a tenant or potential tenant regarding a term or condition of the tenancy.

Discrimination includes harassment of a tenant or potential tenant when it is based on one of the protected grounds.

The AHR Act covers tenancy situations from the moment a rental unit is advertised, or otherwise said to be available, to the end of the tenancy.

The AHR Act covers:

  • residential tenancy in a "self-contained dwelling unit" such as a rented apartment, house, or townhouse
  • commercial tenancy such as a rented store, restaurant, or business property.

If you are unsure whether your unit fits within this definition, contact the Alberta Human Rights Commission for guidance.

Courts and human rights tribunals have found that condominium corporations are accountable for discrimination in rental properties under the protected areas of tenancy and services customarily available to the public. When making a human rights complaint about a condominium corporation or association, a tenant should cite the area of services as well as tenancy. The tenant should also refer to the bylaws of the condominium corporation to see what bylaws there are regarding the particular situation.

For more information, see:
What information can landlords require from potential tenants?
A discussion of protected grounds in the area of tenancy
Duty to accommodate
Commercial tenancy
Related resources

Revised: July 30, 2018



Our vision is a vibrant and inclusive Alberta where the rich diversity of people is celebrated and respected, and where everyone has the opportunity to fully participate in society, free from discrimination.