Thursday, July 09, 2009

Canadian landlords trample on tenants human rights, says survey

A newspaper report here, describes a survey in Toronto in Canada which shows that vulnerable people are regularly being discriminated against by landlords. To quote the article:

To test landlord compliance, the centre created five "renter profiles" – a single mother with one child; a black single mother with one child; a single South Asian man, a single man with a mental illness and a married woman on provincial disability benefits.

Volunteers posing as these vulnerable renters made telephone inquires about 982 apartments listed for rent across Toronto last summer. Each call was followed up within 1 1/2 hours by another volunteer with no discernable grounds for discrimination.

Each pair asked the same 12 questions and the landlords' responses were recorded and analyzed for mild, moderate or severe differential treatment.

For example, to gauge discrimination against the South Asian man, one caller used a distinct South Asian accent and name, while the second caller had no accent and used a Western European name.

Discrimination against the South Asian man ranged from not having his call returned to being told the unit was already rented when it was still available.

The South Asian man also faced extra application requirements such as being asked for postdated cheques. And 31 per cent of the time, he was offered fewer move-in incentives such as free cable TV, the study found.

"In some cases, the landlord makes the unit so unappealing that he doesn't have to turn the person down," said John Fraser, the centre's program director.

The centre's results are similar to those from studies in the United States, where community-based organizations regularly monitor discrimination in rental housing, Fraser said
It would be interesting to see a similar study here in the United Kingdom.

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