An advertisement for a bedroom basement apartment in Mississauga explicitly stated if you are a “black guy,” you should not inquire about the unit – before it was hastily changed on Monday.
The listing was originally posted on Sunday and has since been changed to exclude the original comment “black guys pls no call.”
Lawyer and civil rights activist Selwyn Pieters said this is a serious public concern and the owner is climbing a steep hill.
“I’m very shocked that a person would actually blatantly post an ad saying [they’re] providing a service to the public, but that that service excludes black men,” said Pieters.
The owner of the unit, who wrote the advertisement, apologized and told CityNews that it was a mistake because he doesn’t speak English.
Less than one month ago, on July 29, a prospective Toronto landlord had to pay $10,000 to a black woman as compensation for refusing her a unit. Her boyfriend, who is white, went to inquire about renting the unit afterwards and was told it was available.
The judge said the amount appropriately reflects the objective seriousness of the conduct in question, as well as the subjective impact on the applicant.
“You would think that people would be aware of these circumstances and certainly not discriminate when they are providing a service to the public,” said Pieters.
Pieters said this should not be tolerated in Ontario and is a human rights case, but Kijiji is also at fault.
“Kijiji, as the service provider, has to act reasonable,” he said. “When Kijiji gets wind that somebody posts an ad that has a discriminatory impact or effect, they have to act reasonable.”
Acting reasonably means Kijiji must either tell the person to remove the discriminatory comments or remove the ad itself.
The advertisement says the rental is available as of Sept. 1 and they are looking for a “single or couple; no smoking/pets.”
Pieters said some people will say this is ridiculous and simply look elsewhere, but he believes a case can be filed for violating two sections in the human rights code, including this one:
Every person has a right to equal treatment with respect to the occupancy of accommodation, without discrimination because of race, ancestry, place of origin, colour, ethnic origin, citizenship, creed, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, age, marital status, family status, disability or the receipt of public assistance.
“That could really land him into the hundreds [or] thousands of dollars,” said Pieters about the landlord.
“This is a public interest issue where someone in Ontario is blatantly posting these ads in 2016. It is a cause for serious public concern.”
Shawn McIntyre, Community Manager of Kijiji Canada said that “the account has been blocked for future posting due to this instance.”
“We support equality in housing and have a very clear policy on the subject,” said McIntyre.
McIntyre added that the rental ad was revised and removed by the user.
“We encourage users of our site to follow appropriate guidelines to comply with the human rights legislation in place in all of Canada’s provinces and territories, as well as any applicable local regulations.”