Ontario rental market laden with discrimination, systemic racism: report

The rental market is laden with discrimination and systemic racism according to a new report by the Ontario Real Estate Association. Shauna Hunt with the findings and list of recommendations.

By Shauna Hunt and Michael Ranger

New research from the Ontario Real Estate Association (OREA) is highlighting the discriminatory barriers many in the province face when trying to find a home and how the issue is fuelling the affordable housing crisis.

According to the Fighting for Fair Housing report released on Tuesday, 43 per cent of realtors say they have seen a rental deal fall through because of discrimination and one in four BIPOC brokers say a client has refused to work with them because of their identity.

“For a lot of people, yes there is a lot of us who have stories and we know that it’s happening, but not everybody believes us,” says Toronto broker Davelle Morrison, who is also chair of the OREA’s diversity, equity and inclusion advisory group. “So we need the research and the hard facts.”

The survey of 1,500 consumers and 2,000 agents conducted by research firm Ipsos also notes that two in 10 consumers have been treated unfairly, with BIPOC and 2SLGBTQ+ individuals being more likely to say this has happened to them.


“I have a lot of Caucasian realtors coming to me going, ‘I can’t believe this, my client is Black, their credit score is over 700,'” Morrison says. “They’ll say their client is making a ton of money, their client has a great job, why are they getting turned down for rentals?”

She also notes a specific case where a gay couple were denied living together.

“They didn’t believe two unrelated men would live together in the same condo building because it was against their ‘family rules,'” Morrison recalls.

The research points out Statistics Canada data from 2018 that found 72 per cent of people in Ontario who are not a visible minority owned homes. This compared with 43 per cent of Black respondents, 50 per cent of Indigenous respondents and 67 per cent of other visible minorities.

The data also showed that 71 per cent of heterosexual persons are homeowners, whereas only 47 per cent of those who identify as homosexual or bisexual are homeowners.

CityNews has profiled people experiencing racism while renting over a number of years, and there’s been no shortage of stories.

“I had one landlord tell me they would not allow anyone Black to live in their home, so that was pretty crazy,” said one tenant in 2020.

Another said “it’s hard to persuade someone ‘hey I’m still a good tenant, I can still provide what you need,’ it hurts sometime.”

The OREA report came with a list of recommendations and objectives that include a call on the government to help members of disadvantaged communities become homeowners. It also recommends mandating transit-oriented, mixed-income, and high-density developments in urban and suburban areas.

The report also calls on the province to incorporate equity, diversity and inclusion into existing public policy — such as the condominium and residential tenancy acts.

“We need to look at those ratepayers associations, we need to look at the NIMBYism, we need to look at the ‘why can’t I in my $2 million house live beside a multiplex?’, says Morrison.

NIMBY is an acronym for the phrase “not in my back yard,” which is used to characterize the opposition by residents to proposed developments in their local area.

“Those are also the subtle things happening around Toronto and we know that we are in a housing crisis,” says Morrison.

OREA’s data concluded that 16 per cent of consumers faced challenges in the mortgage process due to their race, ethnicity, gender identity or sexual orientation. About 22 per cent said their bank or mortgage provider caused the racism or discrimination and six per cent even changed banks or providers because of their treatment.

With files from The Canadian Press

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