Renting: no discrimination allowed

When it comes to renting in New Brunswick, discrimination is not allowed


Overview

The Human Rights Act prohibits owners and sellers of property, including their employees and agents, from discriminating against persons who identify with a protected ground under the Act.

Understanding the Human Rights Act


Discrimination in rental housing

Discrimination in housing includes denying individuals the right to rent property, evicting them from a property, and harassing or otherwise disadvantaging them in the enjoyment of property, because they belong to a group protected by the Human Rights Act.

Similarly, it is discriminatory if landlords neglect the maintenance of rental units occupied by racialized tenants, or if they restrict a tenant’s access to facilities (laundry, parking, recreation, etc.) because the tenant belongs to a group protected under the Act.

The prohibited grounds of discrimination are:

  • Race
  • Colour
  • National origin
  • Place of origin
  • Ancestry
  • Creed or religion
  • Age
  • Marital status
  • Family status
  • Sex (including pregnancy)
  • Sexual orientation
  • Gender identity or expression
  • Physical disability
  • Mental disability
  • Social condition (includes source of income, level of education and occupation)
  • Political belief or activity

Protections for tenants

The Human Rights Act offers protections to tenants and potential tenants: protection against denial of accommodation and protection against unfair terms and conditions of occupancy.

Denial of accommodation

Landlords must not publish or display notices, signs, symbols, emblems, or other representations, either on their property or in the media, including social media, that are discriminatory to an individual or group based on a protected characteristic.

For example, a landlord who advertises a preference for tenants without children would violate the Act, because the advertisement would infringe the rights of parents with children under the ground of family status.

Concealed acts of exclusion or discrimination

Acts of exclusion or discrimination are sometimes concealed to deny prospective tenants at the application stage. For example, a landlord may claim an apartment is no longer for rent, when it is still available. Denial of accommodation because of an applicant’s protected characteristic is a violation of the Human Rights Act.

Terms or conditions of occupancy

Landlords are prohibited from including terms or conditions in a lease that restrict, or inconvenience persons protected under the Human Rights Act in their use or enjoyment of property. Terms or conditions of tenancy include, among other factors, rental rates, building maintenance, harassment or demeaning conduct, and access to facilities.

For example, it is a violation of the Act to charge higher rent from a tenant because they have a disability or identify with another ground of discrimination. 

Reasonable accessibility requests

Landlords have a legal duty to accommodate the legitimate concerns and reasonable requests of tenants protected under the Human Rights Act.

Duty to accommodate

Accommodating tenants with disability by providing accessible units and buildings is an essential part of the duty to accommodate. Accommodation providers must bear the cost of the requested accommodation unless the cost is too high and would result in undue hardship. To learn more about the duty to accommodate:

Guideline on Housing Discrimination (PDF)

Service animals

In New Brunswick, it is a landlord’s discretion whether to allow tenants to have pets, to limit the number of pets, or to not allow pets at all. However, some occupancy rules may have discriminatory effects on certain tenant groups.

A landlord may have a “no pets policy” (which is not discriminatory in itself), but as part of the duty to accommodate reasonable accessibility and disability-related requests, the landlord should allow an exception to the rule if a disabled tenant needs to bring a service animal into their unit.

What is a service animal?

A service animal is an animal that has been trained to perform specific tasks in order to help a person with a disability for that disability. While service animals are often associated with people who have visual impairments, they are used to help with a number of physical and mental disabilities. Such disabilities include (but are not limited to):

  • Agoraphobia
  • Anxiety
  • Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
  • Autism
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Claustrophobia
  • Depression
  • Epilepsy
  • Being deaf or hard of hearing
  • Mobility issues
  • Obsessive compulsive disorder
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

For more information about service animals, please see the Guideline on Accommodating People With Service Animals or contact the New Brunswick Human Rights Commission.


What to do if you experience discrimination

If you think you are being discriminated against or harassed based on the prohibited grounds of discrimination listed above, you can file a complaint with the Human Rights Commission. You do not need to be a citizen or landed immigrant. It does not cost anything, and it is illegal for someone to penalize you because you file a complaint.