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Age Discrimination in Condo Declarations Prohibited

January 18, 2007 — With the growing number of condominiums in the Greater Toronto Area, it is important for Toronto Real Estate Board Members to be aware of the rights of their clients with regard to this type of residence. Specifically, it is important to note that, under the Ontario Human Rights Code, condominium declarations are not allowed to discriminate against families, meaning that adult-only buildings are prohibited (unless the condo corporation qualifies as a housing facility designed specifically for seniors – those over 65 years of age).

Ontario Human Rights Code

The Ontario Human Rights Code currently prohibits discrimination on the basis of family status in the areas of housing, employment, contracts, vocational and professional associations, and services, goods, and facilities. Protection against discrimination on the basis of family status was added to the Code in 1982. Initially, the Code contained an exception permitting residential buildings or parts of residential buildings to be designated as adult only. This provision was repealed in December 1986, following extensive hearings before a Legislative Committee.

As such, condominium declarations cannot discriminate based on family status, such as having children. “Adult-only” lifestyle buildings are not permitted in Ontario except for specific situations such as residences which include a requirement, qualification or consideration for seniors (65 years of age and older) such as senior residences or care facilities.

A condo declaration which discriminates against members based on age is unenforceable unless the condo corporation qualifies as a housing facility designed specifically for seniors (those over 65 years of age). Even if a buyer did signed a Declaration agreeing to abide by a by-law which barred families with young children, that section of the by-law would be unenforceable and could not be enforced by the condo corporation against its member or the buyer in this case.

Complaints

The condo corporation as a private corporation has no legal obligation to be proactive and amend their by-law to make its sections enforceable at law. It is a private corporation which would have to incur legal costs to do so and there is no obligation to be proactive unless the condo corporation becomes subject to an order of the Ontario Human Rights Commission.

The Ontario Human Rights Commission administers the Ontario Human Rights Code. All Ontarians are protected by the Code and can make a formal complaint to the Commission if they feel that their rights under the Code have been infringed. The Commission’s mandate includes investigating complaints of discrimination and harassment; making efforts to settle complaints between parties; preventing discrimination through public education and public policy; and looking into situations where discriminatory behaviour exists. If mediation and conciliation efforts are not successful, the Commission can refer complaints to the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal (Ontario Human Rights Commission Complaint Process).

Feedback

You can share any experience you may have with this issue by emailing Mauro Ritacca mritacca@trebnet.com or Von Palmer vpalmer@trebnet.com.

More Information

For more information, visit the Ontario Human Rights Commission Web Site or call them at 416-326-9511 or 1-800-387-9080 (outside Toronto Area).


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