This guide is designed to provide housing providers in Ontario with information about their obligations under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005 (AODA).

Housing providers are faced with the complex challenge of adhering to municipal and provincial laws and responding to the diverse needs of their renters. The purpose of this guide is to help clarify their requirements under the AODA. It also covers how the AODA works with other legislation and offers useful tips to housing providers on how to ensure that their business practices promote accessibility.


Learn the basics of Ontario housing law, tenants’ rights and landlord responsibilities.





This toolkit is designed to help medical professionals support tenants (their patients) who are seeking accommodations in their rental housing from their landlord under the Ontario Human Rights Code. This guide provides an overview of the disability accommodation and letter-writing processes, offers tips for writing an effective disability accommodation letter, and provides templates that medical professionals can use to write their own letters.


In this toolkit, you’ll find information about:

  • Disability accommodations in rental housing
  • Types of disabilities that are protected under the Human Rights Code
  • The accommodation process
  • Tips for medical professionals on writing accommodation letters
  • Sample accommodation letters
  • Resources for medical professionals

This guide provides condominium boards with a clear overview of their obligations under Ontario’s Human Rights Code. It also informs condominium boards of their obligations regarding accessibility standards under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA).   


In this guide, you’ll find information about:

  • The legislative framework, including Ontario’s Human Rights Code, the Residential Tenancies Act, the Condominium Act, the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, and condominium by-laws, rules and declaration
  • Discrimination and harassment under the Ontario Human Rights Code
  • Prohibited grounds of discrimination
  • Reasonable accommodations and undue hardship under the Code
  • The five accessibility standards under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act
A man sitting in a chair writing a list

The affordable rental housing crisis in Ontario has forced many people to compete for the few places they can afford. Renters shouldn’t be forced into such situations, but many wonder how to make their rental application stand out. One way to do this is by including a renter cover letter with your application.

Before writing your renter cover letter, it’s important to understand how some information that you provide could be used to discriminate against you, potentially leading to a rejection of your rental application.

To help avoid discriminatory outcomes, the Canadian Centre for Housing Rights (CCHR) has developed this toolkit, including two cover letter templates, to help you put your best foot forward, while avoiding some of the pitfalls that can impact your rental application.

  1. What a renter cover letter is and why it can help.
  2. Types of information landlords are allowed to request from prospective tenants.
  3. Types of information that could lead to a discriminatory outcome.
  4. What to do if you are asked discriminatory questions.
  5. Types of information that you may want to include or exclude from your letter.
  6. Two renter cover letter templates

1. What a renter cover letter is and why it can help

A renter cover letter is a way to introduce yourself to a landlord, and to tell them what makes you the tenant they should consider.

Our sample letters outline the types of information that landlords often request from prospective tenants, as well as some helpful information that you may want to provide to help your application stand out:

  • Contact information
  • Your rental objective
  • Information about yourself
  • Rental history and references
  • Credit history
  • Proof of income

Unfortunately, there are very few affordable rental homes in Ontario for those living on lower incomes. Many renters are forced to compete with one another for the few places they can afford. Renters should not be forced into such situations, and the long-term solution is for our governments to solve the housing crisis and provide more deeply affordable housing options.

In addition to a lack of affordable housing, discrimination in housing is also unfortunately still present in Ontario. Sometimes, landlords’ or property managers’ prejudices can lead them to deny an apartment to a household inappropriately.

It is important to note that a cover letter will not change discriminatory behaviours or systemic discrimination. Ending discrimination on a systemic level requires cultural shifts in attitudes and better legal protections.

In the meantime, as we work to bring about systemic change, CCHR has designed this renter cover letter toolkit to help you put your best foot forward, while potentially avoiding some of the pitfalls that can impact your application to rent. You should consider our templates as rough guides which should be personalized with the information you are comfortable providing.


2. Types of information that landlords are allowed to request from prospective tenants

The Human Rights Code prohibits discrimination on many grounds, and it also provides rules on what a landlord is allowed to ask a renter about, with the aim of reducing discrimination.

The Code makes it illegal for landlords and property managers to discriminate against renters on the grounds of race, ancestry, place of origin, colour, ethnic origin, citizenship, creed, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, age, marital status, family status, disability and the receipt of public assistance. It is unlawful to discriminate against people in these groups even when they are applying for a place to rent.

In CCHR’s 2009 report, Sorry, it’s Rented, we found that discrimination in housing was widespread, affecting 14% to 34% of renters looking for a home to rent. Our study also found that where renters are members of more than one minority group, they face greater discrimination.

At the same time, the Code protects tenants by stating that, according to law, landlords are only allowed to ask potential renters for:

  • credit references
  • rental history information
  • credit checks

A credit reference is often a credit check but could also be a letter from a lender or acquaintance who can speak to a tenant’s credibility. Landlords are also allowed to ask about income information – but only after asking about the first three pieces of information. Income information can include information about the amount, source and steadiness of a potential tenant’s income.


3. Types of information that could lead to a discriminatory outcome

Sometimes, even the information that landlords are explicitly allowed to request can be used in a discriminatory way. For example:

  • Credit checks can have a discriminatory effect on recent immigrants or young people, who won’t have a significant Canadian credit history.
  • The income source can reveal that someone receives public assistance.
  • The income amount can lead to landlords applying rent to income ratios; however, rent to income ratios have been found to be discriminatory against large numbers of disadvantaged people, in part because these ratios do not take into account all the various resources that renters may have at their disposal.

So, while landlords may use this information in deciding who to rent to, they must take care to not apply the information in a way that tends to systematically exclude particular groups. This can be especially true in places with a shortage of housing options, where landlords can choose who to rent to within a large pool of applicants.


4. What to do if you are asked discriminatory questions

A landlord is not permitted to use information about a protected characteristic (like gender, disability, sexuality, race or whether an applicant receives public assistance) to deny someone a place to rent. They also should not ask questions that give them information about those traits. If a landlord does ask a question that suggests they may illegally discriminate, you can use several potential responses.

  1. Point out the discriminatory conduct and decline to answer. If you are asked a question dealing with any of the grounds of discrimination you can highlight to the landlord that the question seems irrelevant or discriminatory and that you would prefer not to answer that question.
  2. Answer the question. It is an option to simply answer the question.
  3. Evade and deflect – change the topic. If you are asked whether you receive social assistance, you might say something like, “My income is very steady, I am great at budgeting and have never missed a rent payment. What are the available methods to pay rent?”

Since landlords should not ask discriminatory questions, some advocates say those landlords are not owed a truthful answer. The decision of whether to be deceitful during the tenancy application process is a matter of individual conscience; however, there are risks to lying during a tenancy application and CERA does not condone being deceitful. Tenants thinking about being dishonest during a tenancy application should get legal advice about the risks of doing so.

In any of the above situations, it is prudent to take notes about the questions that you are asked so that you have evidence if you later want to complain about discriminatory conduct.


5. Types of information you may want to include or exclude from your letter

Since it is difficult to find an affordable place to live, renters should consider what type of housing search will work best for them. A renter who provides only the basic information that landlords are allowed to request under the Human Rights Code may be protected against discrimination, but they may have a harder time convincing non-discriminatory landlords to rent to them. In these instances, you may want to opt to provide more information, but this may lead to rejection of your application for discriminatory reasons, which is often hard to prove. Deciding what information to share is a very personal decision.

To account for this, we have produced two cover letter templates that can be adapted for many situations.


The following are key types of information that we have included in our templates.

Contact information

Make sure to include your own email address and phone number, and any other contact information you are comfortable sharing.


Rental objective

This should be a brief 2-3 sentence statement about your goals in looking for a new rental. Talk about what you’re looking for, what your long-term goals are and why you are a good fit to live in this rental unit.


About me

This section is where you can introduce yourself. You can talk about your background and why you are moving, and if you have any pets or roommates. Try to include flattering information that makes you stand out, like being someone who is quiet, tidy and responsible. You may also include any accessibility accommodations you may need; however, this information could be used in a discriminatory way, and so you may choose to leave out this information.


Rental history and references

Include details about your rental history, including address, relevant dates, rent, and reasons for moving. Make sure you include your current / previous landlord’s contact information unless you do not want your new landlord contacting them. Include the names and contact information of 2-3 positive references. Former landlord references are best, but if those are not available, consider asking trusted employers, teachers or co-workers. You may also consider attaching a separate sheet with your rental history. Such a sheet may look like this:


My rental history:

AddressTime PeriodMonthly RentReason for MovingLandlordContact information
12 Sesame Street, Toronto2013-2021$1020Change of JobPatty Smith416-555-1111 Patty$#ith@gmail.ca

Credit history

Landlords are allowed to ask for credit references and credit checks. You can order your credit report and score for free from one of Canada’s two credit reporting agencies. Credit references can include letters from business partners, or others who have made loans to you, or any other information that shows the landlord that you will pay your rent and other costs regularly. If you get a credit report, you can include it with your resume.


Proof of income

Once landlords have asked for rental and credit references, they are also allowed to ask for income information. The Human Rights Tribunal has held that landlords can ask for information like the amount, source and steadiness of a potential tenant’s income. Including this information in your renter’s cover letter allows you to frame that information in a way that works best for you. At a minimum, you should provide the current income your household receives, anything beyond that is your choice to disclose. You can also provide proof of income or make it available upon request. Proof of income could include pay slips/stubs, or an employment letter; but it can also include three months of bank statements. Sensitive information like the account number or your expenses can be blacked out by for instance photocopying a version that you have crossed out with a permanent marker.


Conclusion

In your conclusion you can summarize your objective again: that you are a tenant looking for a good apartment and are best suited to live in this home.


6. Two Renter Cover Letter Templates

We have produced two cover letter templates that can be adapted for many situations. Check out our two templates and pick the one that is right for you:

Detailed template

This template includes lots of information that a landlord may request or be concerned with.

Basic template

This template includes the minimum information that landlords are allowed to request under the Human Rights Code.

  • What legal protections do I have if I live in on-campus housing administered by my college/university?

    If you live in on-campus housing, the rules in the Residential Tenancies Act most likely do not apply to your living situation because of s. 5(g) of the Act. To know your rights, obligations and recourses, you must look at the agreement you signed with the university and your university’s housing policies. The agreement and policies may include a complaints procedure and process, with a final recourse to the court system if the issue cannot be solved internally.

    While the Residential Tenancies Act may not apply to your on-campus housing situation, the Human Rights Code of Ontario does. If you feel that you are being discriminated against by on-campus housing administrators or if you are not receiving disability accommodations that you require in your college housing, you can file an application with the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal under the Human Rights Code.

    The remainder of this FAQ post discusses leases that are subject to the Residential Tenancies Act.

  • Can I have someone else live in my apartment when I’m away, and, if so, what are my responsibilities?

    Generally, tenants can transfer their rental unit to someone else for a period of time. This is referred to as a sublease. In a sublease, the individual who moves into the rental unit is called a subtenant. The subtenant is responsible to the tenant, who is responsible to the landlord. The subtenant often pays rent directly to the original tenant, who then pays the landlord.

    Section 97 of the Residential Tenancies Act requires that you get consent from your landlord to sublet your unit. Your landlord cannot refuse to allow you to sublet the unit. If your landlord refuses to let you sublease to a specific person without good reason, you can file an A2 Application about a Sublet or an Assignment with the Landlord and Tenant Board (LTB). At the hearing, the LTB may decide to make an order authorizing your sublease agreement, ending your tenancy, or confirming that the landlord’s refusal was reasonable.

    When subletting your unit to someone else, the initial lease agreement between you and the landlord continues to exist. This means that if your subtenant causes damage to the unit or fails to pay rent, you may be held responsible.

    If you want to transfer your rental unit to someone else permanently, that is called assignment and has similar rules to subletting, except you are no longer responsible for the unit after the other tenant takes over the lease.

  • Can my landlord restrict me from having guests over or hosting parties?

    A landlord cannot control who you invite over to your home. In fact, in certain circumstances, if your landlord tries to limit who you can invite over, this may be considered harassment. However, if you live in subsidized housing, landlords may restrict the length of your guests’ visits.

    It is important to note that under s. 34 of the Residential Tenancies Act, you are responsible for your guest’s actions while they are at your apartment building. For example, if they break something, commit a crime, or substantially interfere with other tenants, your landlord may have grounds to evict you.

  • Can my landlord request a guarantor if they are concerned about my income and ability to pay rent as a student?

    Under the Human Rights Code, landlords are allowed to ask for a guarantor, also called a co-signer, when you sign a lease. This is to ensure that, if you do not pay rent, your guarantor will. Landlords most commonly ask for guarantors when the potential tenant has a low credit rating, bad landlord references or a history of missed or late rent payments. However, landlords cannot ask that you provide a guarantor for a discriminatory reason under the Human Rights Code.

  • Can I terminate my lease before it ends?

    In general, tenants must give proper notice. For a fixed-term tenancy or a month-to-month tenancy, you must give at least 60 days’ notice. If you pay rent daily or weekly, and you are not in a fixed-term tenancy, then you must give at least 28 days’ notice.

    There are, however, a few ways you can legally terminate a lease early.

    If you and your landlord come to a mutual agreement about ending the lease early, you can move out by an agreed upon date. It is best to fill out the N11 Agreement to End the Tenancy form available from the Landlord and Tenant Board to set this agreement out in writing to avoid confusion or misunderstanding.

    If you can find another individual to take over your lease agreement, which is referred to as assignment, you can move out before the end of your lease. In this situation, the lease is transferred to someone new. There are rules in place that could release you from your lease if the landlord refuses to let you assign your tenancy.

    Additionally, Ontario has used a standard lease form since 2018. If your landlord did not use the standard lease form for your lease agreement after April 2018, there is a process you can use to terminate your lease early.

    Lastly, if your landlord has not upheld their obligations under the Residential Tenancies Act, you may be able to end your lease early through an application to the Landlord and Tenant Board.

    If you or a child are a victim of domestic or sexual violence occurring in your home, you may be able to terminate a lease with 28 days’ notice by providing your landlord with the N15 Tenant’s Notice to End my Tenancy Because of Fear of Sexual or Domestic Violence and Abuse and the Tenant’s Statement About Sexual or Domestic Violence and Abuse. You might also want to consult the following resources for help in this situation: The Ontario Network of Sexual Assault/Domestic Violence Treatment Centres, the Barbara Schlifer Commemorative Clinic and Legal Aid Ontario. The Ontario government website also has a list of crisis and help lines, emergency shelters and victim services.

  • If my roommate is not upholding their legal responsibilities as a tenant, am I responsible? What can I do?

    If you and your roommate rent the entire apartment and have each signed the lease, you are likely “joint tenants.” In this situation, both of you are jointly responsible towards the landlord. This means that if rent is not paid on time or damage is done to the unit, you can both be evicted or held responsible. If you signed separate leases with the landlord, or have locks on your bedroom doors, or moved in at different times, you may be “tenants in common”, and each responsible for your own behaviour.

    If you signed the lease but your roommate did not sign the lease, they may be considered an “occupant”, which is not defined under the Residential Tenancies Act, and they may not be protected by the Act. Even though your roommate may still be subject to the terms of the lease, only you , as the tenant, are responsible and liable to the landlord. If your roommate does not pay their share of the rent, you would be held responsible.

    Determining if your roommate is a joint tenant, a tenant in common or an occupant is not always easy. You can use this interactive tool to better understand what kind of relationship you have with your roommate. The Landlord and Tenant Board has the final say on what the true nature of the relationship is.

    The Residential Tenancies Act does not mention roommate relationships. Therefore, if you have a dispute with your roommate, you will need to sort things out through conversation, negotiation, mediation or court. It may, therefore, be a good idea to create an agreement between roommates to create clear expectations for everyone in the apartment.

If you need help in your housing, we may be able to assist you.

The Canadian Centre for Housing Rights (CCHR) provides free, individualized services to renters in Ontario who are facing challenges in their housing.

Learn more about Ontario renters’ rights and landlord responsibilities.





Discrimination In Rental Housing crossed out

What is discrimination?

Discrimination is the differential and unjust treatment of people based on personal characteristics. It often occurs when people judge others based on stereotypes, prejudice, and biases. In the context of renting a home, renters can experience discrimination by their landlords. This can occur at many stages of the housing process including when a renter is searching for housing, when they apply for housing, or while the renter is living in their rental home.

Marginalized communities face higher levels of discrimination

Black people, Indigenous peoples, newcomers, those living on lower incomes, single mothers, members of the LGBTQIA2S+ community, young people, seniors, and families with children generally face higher levels of discrimination in housing. Many people can face multiple forms of discrimination based on their intersecting identities. For example, an Indigenous woman does not experience the world as an Indigenous person and as a woman separately. Instead, these identities intersect and she may experience multiple forms of oppression and discrimination at once as an Indigenous woman.

Discrimination can sometimes be overt. For example, a landlord who tells a single mother with two children that a two-bedroom unit is best suited for a couple without children is discriminating against her in an overt way based on family composition and marital status. However, discrimination can often be very subtle and difficult to identify. For example, a landlord requiring co-signors or guarantors for a newcomer renter is making renting difficult because most newcomers will not have a community or family to support them on that front. This form of discrimination is more indirect. It is referred to as constructive discrimination, where a policy or rule indirectly creates barriers for particular groups of people.

Other examples of discrimination may include:

  • A landlord harassing renters because of the type of cuisine they cook in their home
  • A landlord evicting a renter because their disability causes them to make noise at night
  • A landlord imposing a strict noise limit policy on renters with young children
  • A landlord putting renters into a unit that needs repairs because they do not expect younger renters to make a complaint or to know their legal rights

The lack of available rental property in both Toronto and the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) has forced many renters to put up with discrimination as they fear not finding another place to call home. While the vacancy rate in Toronto increased in 2020 to 3.4%, the vacancy rate for affordable rental units remained low. The vacancy rate for purpose-built rentals with rents ranging from $750 – $999 was 1.4%. This means that for every 1,000 affordable rental units in the city there were only 14 units available for rent. The low vacancy rate of affordable rental housing means that a landlord has access to a larger pool of renters to choose from and may base their choice on discriminatory grounds. Additionally, when rental housing is scarce, renters are more willing to stay in housing situations where they are being discriminated against by their landlord.

How does the Ontario Human Rights Code protect against discrimination?

The Ontario Human Rights Code seeks to ensure that all people are treated equally and that their rights are protected. The Ontario Human Rights Code (“the Code”) prohibits discrimination in housing based on the following protected grounds:

  • Age
  • Ancestry, color, race
  • Citizenship
  • Ethnic origin
  • Place of origin
  • Creed
  • Disability
  • Family status
  • Marital status (including single status)
  • Gender identity, gender expression
  • Receipt of public assistance
  • Sex (including pregnancy and breastfeeding)
  • Sexual orientation

In addition to the Code, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms protects peoples’ rights to be treated equally under the law. Canada also has obligations under international law, in particular, under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the United Nations Charter, to ensure that all people are treated with dignity and that their human rights are respected. Canada has also signed several international treaties which commit the government to protect people from discrimination.

How can renters file a claim based on discrimination in Ontario?

If a renter believes they have been discriminated against, they can file a claim to the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario (the “Tribunal”). This claim must be made based on a protected ground under the Code and filed within one year of the event. Once the claim is filed, the application will be sent to their landlord who may then respond to the claim. The renter is then given the option of mediation before a hearing takes place. In mediation, the Tribunal will hear both sides of the dispute and try to find a resolution that satisfies both parties – the renter and the landlord. If a settlement is not reached or the renter chooses not to pursue mediation, their claim will go to a hearing. During the hearing, the parties will each present evidence to support their position to the adjudicator who will consider both sides and make a final decision. This process can be quite lengthy and onerous on renters. The Tribunal aims to hold a hearing within a year of an application being filed but this may take longer depending on the circumstances. Additionally, final decisions are usually given to the parties three to six months following the hearing.

What is systemic discrimination?

What makes discrimination a systemic issue is when it is caused by patterns of behavior, policies or practices that are a part of the structures of our society, organizations and institutions which put certain groups at a disadvantage. We can determine whether systemic discrimination is occurring in different ways. We can look at data to see how many marginalized people are represented in an organization and how they are treated. We can look at the policies and decision-making of institutions to see if they exclude certain groups. This is because although policies may seem neutral on the surface, they do not affect everyone equally. We can also look at the culture of organizations to see if that leads to certain groups being marginalized or excluded.

Examples of systemic discrimination in housing may include:

  • In a co-operative that houses a diverse group of people including racialized communities, evictions of its racialized residents are in far greater proportion than its non-racialized members.
  • A building that has a policy of only renting to people who are employed. This policy would likely exclude people who receive social assistance, people with disabilities and seniors.
  • A building that has a policy on what types of cultural events can be celebrated in the common areas. This type of policy may exclude certain groups.

How can systemic discrimination in housing be addressed?

In 2019, the federal government passed the National Housing Strategy Act (NSHA), Canada’s first piece of legislation to identify housing as a fundamental human right. Under the NHSA, the federal government is required to ensure that vulnerable groups can participate in developing housing policy. To encourage participation, the NHSA establishes several mechanisms allowing for systemic issues, including those related to discrimination, to come to the attention of policy makers.

Three mechanisms created under the NHSA are meant to hold the federal government accountable to implement the right to housing:

  1. The Federal Housing Advocate
  2. The National Housing Council
  3. The Review Panel

The National Housing Council has been established, while the Federal Housing Advocate is yet to be named. The Federal Housing Advocate role in particular, creates an opportunity for people and communities to bring systemic issues to its attention by allowing them to make a submission. The Federal Housing Advocate can then investigate these issues and make recommendations to the federal Minister responsible to find policy solutions.

Claims to the Federal Housing Advocate are different from claims at the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario in the following ways:

  • The Human Rights Tribunal is part of the judicial system while the Federal Housing Advocate is not.
  • Claims to the Federal Housing Advocate are based on submissions brought by a group or an individual about common systemic barriers to housing. A claim to the Human Rights Tribunal is a legal application that someone makes based on discrimination they experienced individually.
  • The Federal Housing Advocate assesses submissions and gives recommendations and advice to the Federal Housing Minister. A member of the Human Rights Tribunal can make a legal decision about a renter’s application and order a solution for them.

In addition to the federal mechanisms in place, the City of Toronto has also made a commitment to a rights-based approach to housing policy through its 10-year housing plan, the HousingTO 2020-2030 Action Plan.

The plan includes the establishment of the Housing Commissioner’s Office that will hold the City accountable for the right to housing and to its promise of addressing systemic housing barriers. The Commissioner will help the City create policies that are consistent with the right to housing and will monitor its progress in reaching its goals. Additionally, the Commissioner will ensure that vulnerable groups are consulted about housing policy and that the systemic issues they face will be brought to the attention of City Council. Similar to the Federal Housing Advocate role, the creation of the Housing Commissioner will provide an opportunity for groups to bring forward their experiences of systemic discrimination in housing. The City of Toronto’s Housing Commissioner has yet to be established.

  • What laws exist that protect me from discrimination in housing?

    In Ontario, the Human Rights Code protects individual from discrimination and unfair treatment in five areas:

    • Housing
    • Services
    • Contracts
    • Employment
    • Membership in a vocational association and/or trade union

    The Code also identifies 16 grounds upon which individuals should be protected from discrimination in the area of housing:

    • Disability
    • Race
    • Colour
    • Ancestry
    • Place of origin
    • Citizenship
    • Ethnic origin
    • Creed (religion)
    • Receipt of public assistance
    • Gender Identity
    • Gender Expression
    • Sex
    • Sexual orientation
    • Marital status
    • Family status
    • Age

    Specifically in relation to housing the Code states:

    “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, age, marital status, family status, disability or the receipt of public assistance.”

    This means that individuals are protected from discrimination in housing based on the 16 grounds above. If an individual experiences discrimination in housing, it is considered illegal and a violation of the Human Rights Code.


    If you think you are facing discrimination when trying to access housing, or in any matter in your housing, CCHR may be able to assist you. Please contact us for support:

  • In which circumstances can discrimination occur in housing?

    Discrimination can occur in any area of housing.

    Some people may face discrimination when trying to access housing. For example, a landlord may refuse to rent to someone because they think that person is too young, or that they won’t be able to pay the rent because they receive social assistance, or because they hold prejudicial attitudes about the applicant’s race or ethnicity.

    Other people may face discrimination while they are living in their unit. For example, a landlord may refuse to make changes to a unit to accommodate their tenant’s physical needs, or they may try to evict a tenant who is having a baby because they do not want a family living in the unit.

    These are all examples of discrimination in housing as defined by the Ontario Human Rights Code.

    The Code guarantees equal treatment and protection from discrimination in all aspects of housing. The right to be free from discrimination in housing includes not only the right to enter into a rental agreement and start a residential tenancy, but also the right to be free from discrimination in all matters during an individual’s tenancy.

    Discriminatory treatment in any aspect of housing is illegal.


    If you think you are facing discrimination when trying to access housing, or in any matter related to your housing, CCHR may be able to assist you. Please contact us for support:

  • How do I know if a landlord has discriminated against me?

    The Ontario Human Rights Commission provides some information on how to identify discrimination. However, it can be difficult to identify and prove that discrimination has occurred, because discriminatory behaviour can often be subtle or unintended.

    Various factors could be the cause of a negative housing issue, and it’s possible that none of these factors are due to discrimination as defined by the Human Rights Code. If you think you have experienced a negative issue in your housing – for example, a landlord has refused to rent to you – you should consider whether or not the landlord’s actions may have been discriminatory based on at least one of the protected grounds of the Human Rights Code.

    If multiple factors contributed to a negative housing issue – like an individual being denied fair access to housing – and at least one of these factors were due to discrimination, the outcome could be the result of discrimination, and a violation of the Code.


    If you think you are facing discrimination when trying to access housing, or in any area of housing, CCHR may be able to assist you. Please contact us for support:


    You can also file an application with the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal.

    The Human Rights Tribunal is one of eight Ontario Tribunals. When a complaint is filed with the Tribunal, they will determine whether or not the Code has been violated. If a person files an application with the Human Rights Tribunal they may need to attend a mediation session or a hearing and provide evidence of their complaint. If the Tribunal determines that there has been a violation of the Human Rights Code, the Tribunal may order what is known as a remedy, such as financial compensation.

    If you would like assistance filing a human rights complaint, contact the Human Rights Legal Support Centre:

  • I’ve faced discrimination in housing. What can I do?

    If you think you are facing discrimination when trying to access a place to call home or to ensure that your home is fit for you to live in, CCHR may be able to assist you. Please contact us for support:


    You can also file an application with the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal.

    The Human Rights Tribunal is one of eight Ontario Tribunals. When a complaint is filed with the Tribunal, they will determine whether or not the Code has been violated. If a person files an application with the Human Rights Tribunal, they may need to attend a mediation session or a hearing and provide evidence of their complaint. If the Tribunal determines that there has been a violation of the Human Rights Code, the Tribunal may order what is known as a remedy, such as financial compensation.

    If you would like assistance filing a human rights complaint, contact the Human Rights Legal Support Centre:

If you need help in your housing, we may be able to assist you.

The Canadian Centre for Housing Rights (CCHR) provides free, individualized services to renters in Ontario who are facing challenges in their housing.

Learn more about Ontario renters’ rights and landlord responsibilities.





  • What laws in Ontario protect my accessibility rights as a tenant?

    Ontario’s Human Rights Code has primacy over all other legislation in Ontario, and offers the most fulsome protection of a tenant’s accessibility rights. Two other laws also protect tenants’ accessibility rights in Ontario: the Building Code Act, and the Accessibility for Ontarians and Disabilities Act.


    The Ontario Building Code Act governs the construction of new buildings and the renovation and maintenance of existing buildings. However, the accessibility requirements set out in the Building Code do not always result in equal access to housing for people living with disabilities as required by the Ontario Human Rights Code. Many housing providers continue to rely only on the requirements of the Ontario Building Code without considering their obligations under the Human Rights Code. However, because the Human Rights Code takes precedence over all other legislation in Ontario, including the Building Code, housing providers may be vulnerable to a human rights claim if their premises do not meet the requirements of the Human Rights Code that housing must be accessible to residents.


    The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) provides a mechanism for developing, implementing and enforcing accessibility standards to provide full accessibility for Ontarians with disabilities in goods, services, facilities, accommodation, employment, buildings, structures and premises by January 1, 2025. Under the AODA, housing providers will be required to comply with accessibility standards for people with disabilities. If accessibility standards under the AODA fall short of the requirements in the Human Rights Code, the requirements of the Human Rights Code will prevail.

  • How does the Ontario Human Rights Code protect my accessibility rights in housing?

    Provisions concerning housing under the Ontario Human Rights Code state:

    “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.”

    What this means is that everyone in Ontario is entitled to equality, equal treatment, and freedom from discrimination in housing, whether through the tenancy application process or in the terms and conditions of a tenancy. The Code applies to public and private housing, as well as to housing cooperatives and condominiums.


    If you are facing accessibility issues in your building or unit, under the Human Rights Code you have the right to request an accommodation from your landlord.

    CCHR has a self-advocacy toolkit that walks tenants through the process of requesting accommodation from their landlord.

    CCHR also provides assistance to tenants throughout this process, including advocating directly with landlords on their behalf.


    If you have made a request and you believe that you have not been properly accommodated by your landlord, you can file an application with the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario.

    For more information about how to pursue an application at the Tribunal, reach out to the Human Rights Legal Support Centre:

    • Call: 1-866-625-5179 OR 416-597-4900

    For more information about the Human Rights Code, visit our FAQ on Human Rights.

  • What kind of disabilities are protected under the Human Rights Code?

    The Ontario Human Rights Commission’s Policy and Guidelines on Disability and the Duty to Accommodate set out the definition of disability, as well as obligations related to the duty to accommodate and the process involved in making accommodations.

    Disability is defined very broadly and includes:

    • any degree of physical disability, including intermittent disabilities, such as epilepsy
    • any form of mental disability
    • invisible disabilities, such as chronic pain or a learning disability
  • Is my landlord required to make my unit accessible?

    If a tenant is in need of accommodation, they have the option of requesting an accommodation from their landlord. Under the Human Rights Code, landlords are obligated to accommodate a tenant’s disability by taking action to make their unit accessible.


    CCHR has a self-advocacy toolkit that walks tenants through the process of requesting accommodation from their landlord.

    CCHR also provides assistance to tenants throughout this process, including advocating directly with landlords on their behalf.


    If you have made a request, and you believe that you have not been properly accommodated by your landlord, you can file an application with the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario.

    For more information about how to pursue an application at the Tribunal, reach out to the Human Rights Legal Support Centre:

    • Call: 1-866-625-5179 OR 416-597-4900
  • My landlord said I have to pay to make my unit accessible. Is this true?

    No. Landlords are responsible for the costs of making a building or unit that they own accessible for tenants.

    Under the Human Rights Code, your landlord is obligated to accommodate your accessibility needs up to the point of “undue hardship”. This means that your landlord is only discharged of their duty to accommodate your needs if they can demonstrate that making the accommodations you asked for would result in undue hardship.  To do that, your landlord would need to prove that:

    • the costs for making an accommodation would be so high that it would affect the very survival or change the essential nature of their business
    • no outside sources of funding are available to assist with the accommodation process
    • health and safety risks of making the accommodation would outweigh any benefit of the accommodation itself

    CCHR has a self-advocacy toolkit that walks tenants through the process of requesting accommodation from their landlord. CCHR also provides assistance to tenants throughout this process, including advocating directly with landlords on their behalf.

  • My landlord is not taking measures to accommodate my disability. Where can I get help?

    If you have questions or concerns about your landlord not accommodating your disability, you can contact CCHR for assistance. We can help you by advocating on your behalf to your landlord.

    If you need legal information or help, contact the ARCH Disability Law Centre. ARCH is a legal clinic that offers free services to people with disabilities with low income or who receive social assistance.

    • Call: 416-482-8255 OR 1-866-482-2724
    • TTY: 416-482-1254 OR 1-866-482-2728
    • Email: archgen@lao.on.ca

If you need help in your housing, we may be able to assist you.

The Canadian Centre for Housing Rights (CCHR) provides free, individualized services to renters in Ontario who are facing challenges in their housing.

Learn more about Ontario renters’ rights and landlord responsibilities.





  • I have a low income. Can a landlord refuse to rent to me?

    Under the Residential Tenancies Act, landlords have the right to request proof of income from prospective tenants, and they have the right to refuse to rent to someone if they believe their income is not high enough to afford the rent. However, receipt of social assistance is a protected ground under the Ontario Human Rights Code, and to prevent discrimination based on receipt of social assistance, under the Code, landlords do not have the right to request that prospective tenants provide the source of their income. This means that in some cases, when landlords ask for a letter of employment, it could act as proof of discrimination if the landlord refused a tenant who did not provide proof they are employed. Some prospective tenants may be refused by landlords because their income is not much higher than the monthly rent amount, even if they work full-time. While this is a serious concern for many tenants as housing in Ontario becomes increasingly unaffordable, it is not a violation of the Human Rights Code.


    If you think a landlord has refused to rent to you based on the source of your income (for example, if you receive public assistance like Ontario Works or ODSP) contact CCHR for support:


    If you need assistance finding affordable housing in Toronto, contact the Housing Help Centre:


    For more information, check out our other FAQ sections on:

  • I’m facing discrimination when trying to access housing. What can I do?

    In Ontario, the Human Rights Code protects individuals from discrimination in housing based on sixteen protected grounds, which include race, ethnic origin, disability, age, gender identity, sexual orientation, and family status, among others. If a landlord has refused to rent to you due to one of these aspects of your identity, it is against the law.


    If you think you are facing discrimination when trying to access housing, CCHR may be in a position to advocate on your behalf.

    Contact CCHR for support:

    You may also wish to file an application with the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal.

    The Human Rights Tribunal is one of eight Ontario Tribunals. When a complaint is filed with the Tribunal, they will determine whether or not the Code has been violated. Applicants that file with the Human Rights Tribunal may need to attend a mediation session or a hearing and provide evidence of their complaint. If the Tribunal determines that there has been a violation of the Human Rights Code, the Tribunal may order a remedy, for example financial compensation.


    If you would like assistance filing a human rights complaint, contact the Human Rights Legal Support Centre:


    For more information:

  • I’ve been convicted of a criminal offence. Can a landlord refuse to rent to me?

    The Ontario Human Rights Code protects individuals from being discriminated against for their “record of offences,” when accessing employment but not when accessing housing. For example, an employer cannot discriminate against a potential employee for having a criminal record unless the offences listed on the record would have a real effect on their ability to do their job.

    Landlords can choose not to rent to individuals who have a criminal record without violating the Ontario Human Rights Code. However, requiring potential tenants to submit a criminal record check as part of a rental application process could constitute “adverse effect discrimination.” Adverse effect discrimination happens when seemingly neutral policies, practices, or rules have discriminatory effects on particular groups. For example, if a landlord requests a criminal record check or police check from all applicants for a unit, this could have a discriminatory effect on some groups of applicants who have had interactions with police connected a protected ground, such as mental health disability. The landlord’s policy could be discriminatory.


    If you are applying for housing and are asked for a criminal record or police check, contact CCHR for support:

  • How can I find accessible housing?

    Finding accessible housing in Ontario can be very difficult, and waitlists for accessible units are often very long. For many tenants, it is easier and quicker to request accommodations from their housing provider to make their current unit accessible rather than wait for an accessible unit to become available.


    If you need to request accommodations in your current unit, contact CCHR for support:


    If you need assistance finding accessible housing, regardless of the nature of your disability, contact the Centre for Independent Living (CILT)

  • How can I find affordable housing?

    If you need assistance finding affordable housing in Toronto, contact the Housing Help Centre:

If you need help in your housing, we may be able to assist you.

The Canadian Centre for Housing Rights (CCHR) provides free, individualized services to renters in Ontario who are facing challenges in their housing.

Learn more about Ontario renters’ rights and landlord responsibilities.





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