Rental discrimination keeping young family out of new home, says Magog woman

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Rental discrimination keeping young family out of new home, says Magog woman

A Magog woman says landlords are refusing to rent her properties because she has two toddlers.

Britney Hamilton and her boyfriend are looking for a new home better suited to the rambunctious lifestyle that comes with having a three-year-old child and four-month-old baby.

They both work full-time and have a rental budget of about $1,200 per month. 

But after speaking with a few landlords, Hamilton said she realized she was being discriminated against because of her sons.

"When I called [about the rentals], they refused me because I have small children," she said.

"One didn't want the loudness of my children running around in the house to bother the neighbours living in the basement."

Refusing a tenant because they have children is illegal in Quebec under section 10 of the Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms.

Ted Wright of the Westmount Legal Clinic said there is one exception within the Civil Code.

"A landlord can refuse only under section 1912, if the children make the apartment overcrowded," he said.

But he said that wouldn't apply in this situation, where parents of two toddlers are trying to rent something like a three-bedroom house. 

Not an isolated incident, activist says

According to the Sherbrooke Tenants Association, this kind of rental discrimination is widespread.

"The first question is usually: Do they work? The second: Do they have children?," said Alain Roy, a counsellor with the association. 

"Sometimes there's even a third question: Do they speak like us? That is a not-so-subtle way of asking if they are immigrants."

Hamilton said she just wants to offer her kids a bigger place to play.

"It made me a little discouraged. It made me feel like they don't appreciate the next generation that we're bringing into the world," she said.

Both Roy and Wright recommended filing a complaint with the Quebec Human Rights Commission if you feel you have been discriminated against by a landlord. 

Hamilton said she is not sure whether she'll take legal action against the landlords who have rejected her. 

She said her biggest concern right now is finding a home for her family.