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There aren't enough protections for Black renters facing discrimination, real estate agents say – CTV News



In Canada, it’s illegal for a landlord to refuse to rent space to a person because of their race, citizenship, ethnicity or religion. But Black real estate agents and renters say it is still happening far too frequently.

Last December, a 27-year-old undergrad student named Michael was attempting to take over someone else’s lease for a Toronto apartment. He was hopeful because he had good credit and steady finances, and he was offering to pay two to three months’ worth of rent in advance, and the outgoing tenant said she was recommending him to the landlord.

But the process abruptly ended after he sent in his photo identification at the landlord’s request. He said he wasn’t given a reason for the rejection, except that: “I didn’t meet the landlord’s criteria.”

“These landlords, they keep doing it and doing it. When it happened, I was depressed for a week,” Michael, who doesn’t want to be identified by his full name out of fear of racial harassment, told in a phone interview. “I couldn’t even eat because I just felt humiliated.”

Michael said he has had enough and is now awaiting a decision from the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario on whether there was racial discrimination by that landlord. He says he’s let go of many similar incidents in the past, including other landlords showing him units that were not the ones he applied for.

In Canada, housing experts say it’s fairly rare for governments and universities to conduct studies examining landlord bias. A rare outlier was a 2009 study from the Centre for Equality Rights in Accommodation which found that, in Toronto, Black single parents, as well as South Asian households, have a one-in-four chance of facing moderate to severe discrimination when looking for rental properties.

Black people in the rental industry told that anti-Black discrimination has gone unchecked for decades. Now, they’re strengthening calls for stronger penalties for landlords who discriminate, as well as laws to prevent them from requiring photo ID until after a bid is accepted.

Michael is one of approximately 5,700 members of the “Black Housing Directory (Renting While Black)” Facebook group, which is aimed at helping Black people and people of colour find rental accommodations in Toronto and the surrounding area.

The collective also includes landlords, members of the legal profession, and real estate brokers, including Charlene Ann Williams. In her 12 years in the industry, she said she’s seen many of her Black clients repeatedly passed up for listings — despite having strong credit scores and long-term, well-paying jobs.

“It’s heartbreaking that people get treated this way based on the colour of their skin. It’s rampant,” Williams told in a phone interview. “People just don’t want to rent to Black people.”

“My head explodes when I figure out what’s going on and it doesn’t take long,” she said, noting it’s never gotten easier dealing with the discrimination.

Williams vividly recalls a recent example of a couple giving up trying to land a rental in Markham, Ont. and being forced to look in another city “because if Markham was going to twice treat them that way, they’ll take their money elsewhere.”

Kay Layton, executive director of Black Lives Matter YYC in Calgary, said conversations about prejudice against Black renters in Canada have been happening for decades.

“I’ve seen instances of Black folks specifically asking a white friend to come with them to viewings or meeting regarding a new rental property, in hopes of coming across less threatening,” he told over the phone.


Real estate agents for properties act as the intermediary between landlords and potential renters and brokers. And Williams said in some cases, agents have blatantly admitted to her: “There’s nothing wrong with your clients, Charlene. My client [the landlord] just won’t take them.”

She added other agents have told her: “My clients want to rent to people who speak their language.”

And it’s incidents like this that Williams said she probably should have taken to a higher authority like the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario, but decisions there can take months and in the meantime, her clients “still need a place to live.”

Layton, who lives in Alberta, urged people to still file the complaint to a provincial body even if it could be a lengthy process because it “still could help with forwarding change.”

B.C. Human Rights Tribunal generic

Laura Track, director of the B.C. Human Rights Clinic in Vancouver, told in an email that “discrimination by landlords, based on the colour of someone’s skin or any other characteristic, is disturbing and illegal. It also remains a problem in our communities.”

“Of course, in B.C.’s tight rental market, where rental housing is so scarce, landlords have a lot of freedom to choose among what’s often a large number of applicants for a given unit. It’s therefore pretty easy for a landlord to hide any discriminatory intent, and hard for a tenant to prove they were passed over due to their race.”

And because a human rights complaint can take years, Track said “most cases are resolved more quickly through mediation.”

According to the Privacy Commissioner of Canada, privacy law does not prevent landlords from asking to see IDs, such as driver’s licences – as long as the landlord explains why they’re asking for it.

But fellow Black real estate agent Kenneth Toppin said asking for photo identification or a person’s full name can be a way for landlords to avoid renting to members of a particular community.

“Landlords can find out the face of a person very easily and then turn that person down regardless of how qualified they are,” he told in a phone interview. “And because there are no rules of them having to accept you — landlords can say no for whatever reason.”


Toppin recalls a Black couple who were repeatedly denied an apartment in the GTA despite making $45,000 a month and had just bought a $1-million home and needed a place to rent temporarily.

When he hears real estate agents say “the landlord is looking to go another route,” he said it’s coded language for anti-Black racism. “It happens so much and it’s a problem.”

“The racism that Blacks face in the rental market is Jim Crow 2.0,” he said, referring to the state and local laws in the U.S. that enforced racial segregation for decades. Toppin said the problem is even worse for people trying to find rentals on Kijiji or other online classified advertising services, which he likened to “the Wild West.”

“Our community, unfortunately, many times is left to fend for themselves,” he said. “It’s actually one of the worst processes a Black family can go through.”

Rental units

As a landlord himself, Toppin appreciates how others want to be able to choose their tenants, but he wants people held to account if they exhibit a pattern of refusing to accept certain renters.

He and Williams suggested landlords be fined or barred from renting out their units again if a regulatory body finds they’ve discriminated against potential renters. They should also provide financial restitution for the victims, they said.

BLM YYC’s Layton encouraged people in the short-term to call out racism online and potentially warn others.

“When all else fails we can always expose racist landlords on social media and hope that will create some sort of change,” he said.

Williams, who also sits on the inclusivity and diversity task force for the Toronto Regional Real Estate Board, says “they’re trying to combat this on the most basic level.”

And this means educating the more than 58,000 real estate agents on the ground and conveying to their landlord clients that discrimination is unacceptable.

“A lot of the reason that they [side] with the landlord is because there are so many of us,” she said, adding that if the landlord “doesn’t like what you as an agent are saying, he’s going to find someone else to represent him.”

Edited by’s Sonja Puzic and Jackie Dunham

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Canadian home sales, prices surge to new record in March



OTTAWA (Reuters) – Canadian home sales rose 5.2% in March from February, setting a new all-time record amid strong demand in markets across the country, the Canadian Real Estate Association said on Thursday.

The industry group said actual sales, not seasonally adjusted, rose 76.2% from a year earlier, while the group’s Home Price Index was up 20.1% from last March and up 3.1% from February.

The actual national average selling price hit a new record at C$716,828 ($572,821) in March, up 31.6% from a year earlier and rising 5.7% from February.

($1 = 1.2514 Canadian dollars)


(Reporting by Julie Gordon in Ottawa)

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Hot real estate market sparks warnings to potential buyers as complaints to regulator double



As home sales in the province continue on a dizzying trajectory, the province’s real estate watchdog and regulator are warning buyers to be wary of what they may be getting into.

The Real Estate Council of B.C. (RECBC) and the Office of the Superintendent of Real Estate said that in the first three months of 2021, they have seen an increase in inquiries and complaints.

Calls to the regulator were up 42 per cent over the previous year, while complaints, such as how offers were made and accepted, were double the number received in the same period in 2020.

“Buying a home is one of life’s biggest financial decisions. There are potential risks at the best of times, but with the added pressure and stress of the current market conditions, those risks are amplified,” Micheal Noseworthy, superintendent of real estate, said in a statement.



The Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver says sales in the region have continued at a record-setting pace.

Residential home sales covered by the board totalled 5,708 in March 2021, up 126.1 per cent from March 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, and up 53.2 per cent from February of this year.

Rural and suburban areas have experienced the biggest spikes.

For the past two weeks, Jay Park has been in the middle of the buying frenzy.

He and his partner are trying to upgrade from their one-bedroom apartment to a two-bedroom condo or townhouse in Vancouver.

“I wish we had done this a month or two ago,” he said.


A condo tower under construction is pictured in downtown Vancouver in February 2020. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck)


Park put an offer on a $1-million condo, $4,000 above asking price.

“To entice the [seller], we put in a subject-free offer, but it wasn’t successful,” he said. “They accepted $110,000 over asking price that was also subject-free.”

The hot market has led to bidding wars. Some would-be buyers have even lined up outside for days to try to get a jump on a property.

Erin Seeley, the CEO of the council, is warning buyers to do their research and be aware of risks before making an offer.

“It’s really important that buyers have engaged with their lender before they’re making offers so they know how to stay within a reasonable budget,” she said.

Seeley said some of the complaints the council has heard from buyers is that they weren’t aware the seller has a right to take an early offer.

“And the seller was really in the driver’s seat about setting the pricing,” she said.


Demand continues to outstrip supply for housing in cities like Vancouver. (Rafferty Baker/CBC)


Aaron Jasper, a Vancouver realtor, advises clients to avoid cash offers and to include finance clauses even if it may mean they lose a deal.

“There’s a lot of frustration among buyers, feeling pressure to take some risk,” he said.

“You’re better to be delayed perhaps a year getting into the market as opposed to being completely financially ruined.”

Jasper also says realtors are limited in the advice they can give to clients on legal matters, home inspections, potential deficiencies with homes, and financing.

‘Caught up in the craziness’

Other tips from the council include seeking professional advice before making a subject-free offer or proceeding without a home inspection, and speaking to a professional to determine how market conditions may be affecting prices.

Meantime, people like Jay Park say they are still keen to buy. Park has more viewings scheduled and is optimistic.

“It’s a very exciting time for us, but I also don’t want to get caught up in the craziness and make a purchase that’s above our means.”

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Black Press Media introduces one of Western Canada’s best real estate platforms helping home buyers Find. Love. Live. that new home



Need an agent who knows the community?

Or, is it time to look for a new place to live, but you don’t know what’s on the market?

Whatever the real estate need is for residents in the communities of British Columbia, Yukon & Alberta, there’s a new way to do that one-stop shopping – by visiting Today’s Home.

The slogan for the site is “Find. Love. Live.”

“We want people to find their dream home, love it, and live in it,” said group publisher Lisa Farquharson.

Building on the success of Black Press Media’s niche digital platforms – Today’s Home brings the same wealth of knowledge and local expertise to the search for a home, be it buying, selling, or even just daydreaming about what changes you can make in the future.

Search hundreds of listings that local real estate agents have available.

The listings cover properties around the region, from a one-bedroom, one-bath condo for $339,900 to million-dollar acreages throughout the province of BC, Yukon, Central Alberta and beyond.

Click on a listing, and see not only the realtor handling the property sale, but links to his or her other listings and social media feeds. With the click of a mouse, take a virtual tour of the property, find the property’s walking score, and learn about nearby amenities.

There are links available to schedule a showing, or send the agent a comment or question.

Want to share a listing? When you click on the share button, you’ll actually send an attractive digital flyer of the prospective property, not just a link.

There’s even a button to help determine how much you have to spend, courtesy of the convenient mortgage calculator.

Plus, scroll down the page on Today’s Home and find a list of expert local real estate professionals who can answer questions or help with that home sale, Farquharson explained.

Today’s Home offers the advantage of the massive reach that Black Press Media has built throughout Western Canada with its network of community newspapers and online products. That allows the public to tailor real estate searches based on location, price, and other key factors while allowing real estate professionals to gain unprecedented audience reach with their listings.

Today’s Home will dovetail into the media company’s existing print real estate publications.

“Black Press Media has real estate solutions in print and now we can add in the digital component,” Farquharson said.

Watch for expansion of the Today’s Home platform in the near future, she added. That will come as Black Press Media adds a new component – the development community. Developers will be able to reach a huge audience when their projects are ready for presentation.

For information on Today’s Home, contact group publisher Lisa Farquharson at 604-994-1020 or via email.

Happy house hunting!

Source: – Aldergrove Star

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