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93 per cent of Black real estate agents believe there is discrimination in Ontario's rental process: OREA poll

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Ninety-three per cent of Black real estate agents believe that discrimination plays a role in the rental process in Ontario, according to a new report by the Ontario Real Estate Association.

The association’s Presidential Advisory Group (PAG) on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion released its first-ever ‘Fighting for Fair Housing’ report on Tuesday which outlines 19 recommendations on how to eliminate systemic racism and improve inclusion in Ontario’s housing market.

The report also says that four in 10 real estate agents across the province say they’ve seen a rental deal fall through due to discrimination.

“Unfortunately, it's a real thing that's happening and it's very difficult. If you can't get a place to rent, let alone buy. I mean, renting is really the first step on that property ladder. And if you can't even get a foothold on the first step, that's a huge problem,” PAG Chair Davelle Morrison told CP24.

Over one third of real estate agents have experienced discrimination or racism and one in four BIPOC realtors say that a client has refused to work with them because of their identity, according to the report.

Meanwhile, two in 10 consumers say they’ve been treated unfairly, while BIPOC and LGBTQ2S+ individuals are more likely to say this has happened to them.

In addition, 16 per cent of consumers surveyed said they have faced roadblocks during the mortgage process due to their race, ethnicity, gender identity, or sexual orientation.

“I have anecdotal studies. I have Caucasian agents coming up to me all the time going, ‘what's wrong? I can't believe this is happening to my client. They have an incredible credit score. They make a ton of money, they've got a great job yet the landlord will not accept them,’” Morrison said.

The PAG noted that there are no “safe” reporting mechanisms for consumers to turn to when they want to report discriminative or racist incidents.

Eighty per cent of consumers surveyed said they don’t know where to go to report instances of discrimination.

Despite the report’s results, the report said a number of real estate agents don’t recognize there is a problem.

“In fact, when OREA actually went out with the survey, they actually got quite a few angry emails from some realtors that were angry that they were even doing this work to begin with. Because they simply did not see that there was a problem, which of course made us realize how big the problem truly was,” Morrison said.

To end racism and inequity in the province’s rental and housing market, the PAG outlined 19 recommendations which include:

  • Advocating for a review of the Ontario Residential Tenancies Act (2006), with the goal of improving access to affordable homes for disadvantaged communities
  • Reducing government-imposed costs on new rental projects, including duplexes, triplexes, and walk-ups
  • Building 99,000 community housing units over the next decade, to clear the current backlog and accommodate future growth
  • Encouraging expansion of affordable homeownership programs for disadvantaged communities, including rent-to-own programs

OREA said it will be taking steps to review internal governance structures, board selection processes and policies to increase BIPOC in leadership positions within real estate associations.

The PAG collaborated with research firm Ipsos to gather survey results. Nearly 1,500 consumers, including a” large sample of BIPOC and LGBTQ2S+ consumers,” and nearly 2,000 realtors were surveyed, according to the report.

The polling among consumers is considered accurate to within +3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20. As for the real estate agents polled, OREA invited all its members to participate in the survey, which constitutes it as a census. Therefore, there is no associated calculation of accuracy as the results contain no sampling error.

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