FREDERICTON (GNB) – The New Brunswick Human Rights Commission has issued a Guideline on Housing Discrimination, a publication outlining the rights and responsibilities of tenants and landlords under the New Brunswick Human Rights Act.

The new housing guideline is a legal and educational resource, informed by research and analysis. It presents a detailed overview of human rights case law nationwide on housing discrimination, which governs the housing rights and obligations of tenants and landlords.

Commission chair Claire Roussel-Sullivan said that over the years, the commission has registered a steady escalation in housing discrimination complaints, including 60 allegations last year related to discrimination in the rental housing market.

“Conducts, practices, and policies that discriminate against those seeking housing in New Brunswick violate the act and have long lasting, detrimental effects on the well-being, social inclusion, and economic stability of individuals, families, and communities,” said Roussel-Sullivan. “The extended COVID-19 pandemic has further accentuated the hardships faced by tenants in the province, particularly those belonging to low-income or middle-income groups, so it is especially vital for all concerned to educate themselves about the housing rights, protections, and obligations specified in the act.”

“I urge New Brunswickers to uphold the dignity, equality, respect, and inclusion of all people during housing-related transactions,” she said.

Housing discrimination manifests in subtle ways, said Roussel-Sullivan, and may arise at the initial stages of the rental process through discriminatory advertisements that imply the exclusion of protected groups from rental opportunities; though discriminatory treatment during early interactions like house viewing; through discrimination in rental terms and conditions like disproportionate rental rates or illegal deposit requirements; and through discrimination during tenancy, which covers a wide arc of practices, policies, and behaviours.

People who have experienced discrimination in housing because they identify with one or more of the 16 grounds protected under the act are advised to consult the housing guideline or contact the commission.

“The commission is here to protect all residents,” said Roussel-Sullivan. “Know your housing rights and responsibilities and if you have questions, reach out to the commission. The commission accepts all inquiries and complaints and assesses them on merit, adhering strictly to complaint resolution procedures prescribed in the act.”

In the coming weeks, the commission will partner with Service New Brunswick to conduct educational webinars on housing rights, which will summarize the human rights principles articulated in the housing guideline and respond to participant questions. To find out about the dates of the webinars and to register, contact the commission or check its website.

The commission’s mandate is to uphold the equality, dignity, and human rights of New Brunswickers and to educate residents on their rights and obligations under the act. The commission’s guidelines are designed to raise awareness about human rights, and to educate stakeholders, with the aim of eliminating discriminatory practices in the five areas protected under the act, including housing.

More information about the act and the commission’s publications is available online or by calling 506-453-2301 or 1-888-471-2233 (toll-free in New Brunswick). The commission can be contacted by email at hrc.cdp@gnb.ca.