Race and rentals: BC looking into "discriminatory" housing practices

Mar 17 2023, 6:58 pm

A Vancouver Craigslist rental ad with a clause about race has sparked outrage and debate about discrimination against renters, and we asked the Province of BC if it was legal.

The ad, which has since been deleted, was shared on Twitter by Sarah Blyth, the executive director of the Overdose Prevention Society.

She grabbed a screenshot of the listing before it went down.

The Craigslist listing was for a rental in East Vancouver near the PNE area.

Most of it read like a regular rental ad until a few sentences in.

“No drunks! No party! No pets! No over night visitors! No Indian!” the ad said.

The listing employed the use of a lot of exclamation marks and all caps.

no indian rental

@sarahblyth/Twitter

What the BC government has to say about rental discrimination

Some people on social media did some digging into Vancouver rental discrimination, saying it was illegal.

Others said the opposite.

We raised the concerns about rental discrimination, both when it comes to the 55+ bylaw and when it comes to rental listings that discriminate by race, to the BC government.

Before we get to what the government had to say, here’s what the province’s tenancy website says about discrimination:

“A landlord cannot refuse to rent to a tenant based on their race, colour, ancestry, place of origin, religion, marital status, family status, physical or mental disability, gender, sexual orientation, age or lawful source of income.”

However, there are some exceptions:

  • The rental unit is a building or development reserved for people aged 55 or older
  • The rental unit is designated for people with disabilities
  • The owner of the accommodation will share a bathroom or kitchen with the tenant

The last bullet point has caught a lot of eyes on social media.

It means that an owner/landlord can discriminate if they provide accommodation where they share a bathroom or kitchen with a renter.

While many have said the “No Indian!” ad is racist, it’s a two-way street, and many landlords of specific ethnic backgrounds will discriminate against people who aren’t of the same heritage.

This Craigslist ad is a great example, where the person who listed the rental is seeking only an “Indian girl.”

Vancouver Craigslist

Here’s what the BC government said: “We are examining the implications of the section in relation to our commitment to anti-racism.”

When asked to clarify the legal implications of these listings, Attorney General Niki Sharma reaffirmed the importance of the issue but did not provide a concrete plan to make any changes in the immediate future.

“Racist discrimination is unacceptable and has no place in BC. The Ministry of [the] Attorney General is examining the implications of the section in question. Our government is continually updating BC’s laws to ensure they meet our commitment to anti-racism and protect people,” Sharma said.

Other kinds of rental discrimination

As of November 2022, strata corporations could implement a bylaw limiting the age of owners, tenants and occupants to 55+.

The BC government recently addressed this bylaw, suggesting that some strata corporations were using it to make decisions that had “regrettable and unintended consequences.”

Regarding the 55+ bylaw, Premier David Eby said in a presser that amendments were coming to address some ways strata corporations may be taking advantage of the bylaw, impacting those under 55, “especially young families.”

“Sector stakeholders estimate that only a few hundred have made this change. There are approximately 33,000 strata corporations in BC,” the BC Ministry of Housing told Daily Hive.

Have you experienced rental discrimination in Vancouver? Let us know in the comments.

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