Denied housing due to criminal record?
It’s legal for landlords to discriminate against you based on a criminal record
Unlike other types of discrimination which are completely illegal in connection with housing, such as discriminating against a tenant on the basis of age or race, the law doesn’t explicitly prohibit discrimination on the grounds of having a criminal record. While the point used to be moot because Toronto landlords did not typically request a criminal background check, this is changing. Many landlords, especially the large property management companies that oversee high rise and multi-unit apartment buildings, are now demanding criminal checks. And while they could discriminate against you outright without real fear of penalty, most won’t, simply to avoid the confrontation and possible fallout if prospective tenants cry discrimination. They will tell you the apartment has already been rented, or that you fail to meet some other criteria. With the abundance of tenants fighting for a relative lack of rental housing stock, there is no need for you to ever even be aware that it was your record that lost you the apartment.
How to fight housing-related discrimination
If you suspect you may be on the wrong end of the preferential treatment stick because of your criminal record, there are things you can do to fight for your housing rights. Remember, you are not alone; about 10 percent of Canadian adults, a whopping 3 million people, have a criminal record. That is a huge population of people who face similar barriers when it comes to employment, housing, travel, and many other opportunities that most Canadians take for granted.
- Know that discrimination based on criminal record usually intersects with other forms of discrimination. Landlords are less likely to ever demand a criminal record check from a white, Canadian-born female than her foreign-born, Native Canadian or racialized counterpart; that is an example of discrimination right there. Systemic discrimination in this country has led to laws against treating people differently when it comes to disability, race, or receipt of social assistance, all of which put one at increased risk of having a criminal record. So if you suspect that you may be the victim of discrimination, multiple factors may be involved – and whereas you can’t go after a landlord for discriminating on the grounds of a positive criminal check, you can definitely bring a suit against them for other factors.
- Don’t just walk away. Sometimes, rather than go through the motions of a criminal check which they know will come back positive, prospective tenants just walk away, fearing close scrutiny and unfair treatment even if they should happen to be approved. Being afraid to apply will definitely get you nowhere and just reinforces to landlords that discrimination is okay.
- Apply for a record suspension. The only way to be sure your old criminal record isn’t getting in the way of your getting the housing you want, is to have your record sealed so prospective landlords can’t view it at all. Your friendly Dominion representative would be happy to get the process started today.
Call TOLL FREE 1-888-890-1321
or fill out the online inquiry below and have a qualified agent help you see if you are eligible to clear your criminal record with a Pardon, or gain access to the United States with an Entry Waiver.