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

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SASKATOON —
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 CTVNews.ca 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 CTVNews.ca 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 CTVNews.ca 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 CTVNews.ca over the phone.

LEGAL ROUTE CAN TAKE MONTHS

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 CTVNews.ca 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 CTVNews.ca in a phone interview. “And because there are no rules of them having to accept you — landlords can say no for whatever reason.”

CODED LANGUAGE COMMON

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 CTVNews.ca’s Sonja Puzic and Jackie Dunham

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PGIM Real Estate, Revera Affiliate Target UK Market in Newly Formed JV

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Real Estate Sales In September

PGIM Real Estate has been active in recent months providing capital to facilitate blockbuster senior housing acquisitions. Now the firm is looking to capitalize on demand for senior housing in the United Kingdom.

The Madison, New Jersey-based real estate investor and lender announced this week it is entering into a joint venture with Signature Senior Lifestyle, an affiliate of Revera, to develop and operate senior housing communities around greater London

Mississauga, Ontario-based Revera serves 20,000 older adults in long-term care homes and retirement residences in Canada. It is also the majority shareholder of Sunrise Senior Living, one of the largest senior housing providers in the U.S. The company operates a portfolio of 12 communities in the U.K. under the Signature Senior Lifestyle brand, with one community in development that is slated to open in autumn 2021.

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The JV has one development underway — a senior housing community, or “prime care” home, in southwest London. PGIM worked with Elevation Partners, a London-based investor and asset manager in U.K. health care real estate, in sourcing, structuring and executing the venture. Additionally, PGIM will retain the firm to leverage its expertise.

PGIM and Revera did not respond to requests for comment from Senior Housing News regarding details about its development pipeline.

London is emerging as a future hotbed of senior housing development, spurred by favorable demographic growth trends and a lack of available supply, and the PGIM-Revera venture will find competition.

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Maplewood Senior Living CEO Gregory Smith told SHN last month that demand for U.K. senior housing is comparable to major U.S. markets such as New York and San Francisco, where supply has historically been constrained.

Maplewood and its investment partner, Omega Healthcare Investors (NYSE: OHI) are looking to expand its luxury Inspir brand to the U.K., and identified five suburban markets around London with high barriers to entry that are favorable for the brand’s growth.

Revera CEO Tom Wellner sees similar untapped upside potential for senior housing in the U.K.

Source: – Senior Housing News

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Where in Canada are house prices increasing the most? Maybe not where you think – CTV News

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TORONTO —
Canada saw a surge in housing prices over the past year due to COVID-19, a market trend experts say is caused by people working from home more often and moving to rural and suburban areas.

Data released by the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) shows that when comparing the average market prices from February 2020 to February 2021, Canada had a 25 per cent year-over-year increase. The average price rose from $542,484 to $678,091.

“One factor is that with work-from-home even more generalized, many people don’t have to live within commuting distance from their jobs,” Shaun Cathcart, senior economist at CREA, told CTVNews.ca. “That means that folks who own condos and smaller homes can take out built-up equity and move to a property that better meets their needs – as over the past year, home is not only where you eat a few meals and sleep, but also the office, your kids’ school, playground, gym, etc.”

The largest year-over-year percentage changes came from the Northwest Territories (48.1%), Nova Scotia (30.4%), Ontario (24.5%), Quebec (22.5%), and New Brunswick (20.9%).

Cathcart noted that the higher percentage change in Northwest Territories is likely due to the fact that in both February 2020 and February 2021, six homes were sold throughout the entire territory and the ones that were sold in 2021 were marked at a higher price.

When looking at the provinces and territories that had the largest upsurge in terms of price difference, Ontario sits at the top of the list with an increase of over $170,000. Northwest Territories came next, followed by British Columbia, Nova Scotia, and Quebec.

The data also shows that prices in suburban and rural areas were impacted the most and saw the biggest changes, with regions like Rideau-St. Lawrence and Sarnia-Lambton in Ontario averaging about a 50 per cent increase from the previous year.

“With people no longer having to live within commuting distance to their jobs, as long as suburban and rural areas have decent internet, they become even more attractive to families looking for more space,” said Cathcart.

Find your region and the year-over-year price and percentage change below.

Cathcart says that Canadians can expect to see sales and prices increase this year, but forecasts sales to slow down in 2022 while prices remain high.

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