Apartment tour ends abruptly as Ontario landlord tells same-sex couple to 'get out'

As if navigating the rental market isn't tricky enough already, a Bradford woman and her partner face another hurdle in finding appropriate housing: discrimination

A woman from Bradford, Ontario, says she was discriminated against by a potential landlord after showing up to view a basement suite with her same-sex partner.

Tatiana Dias and her partner have been looking for a place to rent in recent weeks amid a very challenging market for tenants. The pair had viewed a few apartments already with landlords who were nice and accommodating, Dias says. Then there was the 1 bedroom, 1 bath basement suite in Bradford going for $1,300 a month that she found on Facebook Marketplace.

“As soon as we got in, you could see on her face she was shocked we showed up as women,” Dias tells Yahoo News Canada.

Dias says she told the person who posted the listing that she and her partner would be coming to give the suite a look, even using she/her pronouns to refer to her partner. So when the couple showed up, they were surprised by the landlord’s reaction.

As they went in to see the place, which could only be accessed through a garage door, Dias recalls the landlord appeared unhappy and hesitant. When they stepped into the basement suite, the landlord decided to speak up.

“She turned up and said ‘you know what, this isn’t going to work,'" Dias recalls. "'I’m a devout Christian and when you said it was a couple I thought it would be a straight couple.'"

"'You need to get out,'" Dias remembers the landlord saying.

The landlord followed the pair out of the house and the couple left. Dias tried reporting the landlord’s post to Facebook, but since it didn’t explicitly say anything discriminatory, it was not taken down.

Dias followed up with the landlord to let her know that it was illegal not to rent to people because of their sexual orientation, and was then blocked by the landlord.

Dias says she is still unsure if she will pursue legal action, but wanted to bring awareness to the issue.

“Even if I don’t report them…I’m just trying to raise awareness that the people of Bradford know that this is still happening and we should all be nicer to each other,” she says.

“No matter what your views are, what’s the problem with renting to someone if they’re quiet and pay their rent? Why does it matter what they do behind closed doors?”

Dias posted about her experience on Twitter, which has since received over 1 million views, recalling the landlord telling the couple that she doesn't "support this lifestyle."

Many in the comments shared similar experiences of discrimination.

"I thought Canada was supposed to be nice," one Twitter reply wondered. Another asked: "This sh-t still happens? I wish I was more shocked."

Another joked: "I can tell you're Canadian by the way you still say "Thanks" to the person who hate-crimed you."

No matter what your views are, what’s the problem with renting to someone if they’re quiet and pay their rent? Why does it matter what they do behind closed doors?

A lawsuit would be ‘tricky’

Edward Woods is a Hamilton-based paralegal who specializes in landlord-tenant boards. He says landlords are not allowed to discriminate based on the Ontario's Human Rights Code, which includes religion, disabilities, creed, family status and sexual orientation. However, because the landlord claimed her religious beliefs were the reason for not accepting the potential tenants, it could turn into a battle of the Code.

“It gets tricky at that point,” he says. “But the discrimination the landlord is basing it on is really frowned upon. Same-sex marriage is legal in this country so that’s likely to get them in a lot of trouble.”

Woods says Dias and her partner can either go to the Landlord Tenant Board, or file a claim with the Human Rights Tribunal.

He says if the landlord had directly discriminated against the couple based on their sexual orientation, and then rented out the suite to a heterosexual couple, it would not make a good case for the landlord. But if the landlord rented out the suite to another gay couple, the tenant’s case will be shot down.

“It would lend more credence to the landlord than the tenant,” he says.

The listing on Facebook Marketplace has since been taken down, though it is unclear if it is due to the apartment having been rented out to someone else.