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Coquitlam renter shocked after landlord asks for nationality

Landlords can't ask you where you are from, according to the BC Human Rights Code. But some do anyway as they discriminate against potential renters on the basis of nationality
Some landlords are asking for the nationality of prospective renters, which is a BC Human Rights violation | Photo: Getty/Thomas Winz

Landlords still have control when it comes to choosing renters.

It makes sense to vet prospective tenants before leasing a valuable property.

But asking for someone's place of origin is not allowed under B.C's Human Rights Code.

Still, that doesn't stop some landlords for requesting someone's nationality before agreeing to rent out a place.

And that has disappointed a man who was looking to rent a home in Coquitlam for himself, his brother and mother.

The man contacted the Tri-City News with his complaint, sending along a description of the Craigslist post, as well as a link to the rental advertisement for a three-bedroom home.

"I am writing to you today about a problem that renters (myself) are facing and being questioned about their 'race' when it comes to expressing interest in moving elsewhere," Michael wrote.

"I was looking for a new home for rent here in Coquitlam and came across a house, and as you can see in the description "plz briefly text me your information if u interested (number of family, nationality jobs, ages, date to move in) text me 24/7."

'Total shock,' about rental ad

Michael told the Tri-City News he was shocked at the request for his nationality.

(The Tri-City News is not publishing the Craigslist ad or Michael's last name for privacy reasons, as he still needs to rent a place.)

"I am in total shock why someone should be questioned what race they are, which is clearly racial profiling. We live in a democratic country where there's equality, but for some people I guess that does not work." 

Michael said he will keep looking for a home to rent, but he is disappointed landlords may be discriminating on the basis of nationality.

It's not the first time this has happened in Coquitlam.

In April, a woman contacted the Tri-City News after a landlord blocked her when she said she was originally from Albania after he asked her via Facebook Messenger where she was originally from.

Tenants do have recourse, however, and can hold landlords accountable, according to the Tenant Resource and Advisory Centre.

Landlords can't discriminate

While the Residential Tenancy Act is the main piece of legislation that governs tenants’ and landlords’ rights and responsibilities, Section 10 of the BC Human Rights Code provides tenants with additional protections concerning discrimination in tenancies.

A landlord may not refuse to rent to you because of:

  • race
  • colour
  • ancestry
  • place of origin
  • religion
  • marital status
  • family status
  • physical or mental disability
  • sex
  • sexual orientation
  • age (if 19 or older)
  • lawful source of income

According to TRAC, if you think you may have been discriminated against, you can contact the BC Human Rights Clinic at 1-855-685-6222.

'Keep on going,' says renter

 "I just want to make people aware in the Lower Mainland that it has become very difficult to find a place for the amount of information which is requested and when being asked such questions. I'm an entrepreneur myself and looking to relocate with my brother and mother but, just got to keep on going I guess," Michael further wrote. 

Tri-City News