Residential tenancies are regulated by each province and territory. Accordingly, each province and territory sets their own rules.
When it comes to grounds of refusing tenancy, provinces and territories have human rights legislation that forbid refusal renting to a potential tenant on prohibited grounds for discrimination.
Prohibited grounds of discrimination include, under the Canadian Human Rights Act: race, nationality or ethnic origin, colour, religion, and family status. Every province and territory also has their own human rights legislation and the prohibited grounds are either the same or similar to the act.
Whatever the case may be, landlords are barred by human rights legislation to refuse to rent to people with children. The grounds under which children usually fall are family status.
Prohibited ground of discrimination family status
For the purposes of tenants living with children, the grounds of “family status” are very important, because that status usually translates into “being in a parent and child relationship.” The Ontario Human Rights Code, for example, takes family status to mean just that.
However, it’s not limited to a mother or father and a child. If people are in a parent-child type of relationship, it usually falls under family status.
In other provinces the definition of family status can be even broader. For example, in Alberta family status is defined as the status of being related to another person by blood, marriage or adoption.
While a landlord cannot refuse to rent to you because of children, they can limit the amount of people who are allowed to live in a rental unit.
If a family of 10, including a few children, grandparents, etc., want to move into a one-bedroom apartment that is very likely not going to be approved by the landlord.
There are municipal bylaws that forbid overcrowding. Toronto Property Standard bylaws state that: “The minimum floor area of a room used by only one person for sleeping shall be six square metres with the room having a minimum dimension on one side of two metres.”
Is there a situation where the tenant can be evicted if he or she has children?
A landlord cannot refuse to rent to you for having children or based on any other situation covered under family (or marital) status but that doesn’t mean that the landlord has no recourse if the children become liabilities for the rental unit or building.
If your child or children are causing problems within the rental building, causing disturbances or damage to property, etc., then the landlord could evict you. Tenants have the obligation to keep property in good condition and if damage occurs because of your or your children, not only could you be evicted but you will most likely have to pay for the damage caused.
If you believe that you have been refused an apartment or house for rent based on discriminatory grounds you should consult with a lawyer.
Housing Ontario Human Rights Commission
A discussion of protected grounds in the area of tenancy Alberta