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Human rights complaint filed over 'single family' condo restrictions amid concerns of LGBTQ discrimination


More people are coming forward with concerns about Ontario condominium rules that require units be for “single families” — but appear to keep out LGBTQ couples, single parents, and a host of other family types.

The rules — one of which was quoted by a Toronto condo who asked a gay couple to provide a marriage certificate or leave — appear in many condo documents, according to a review of some published filings by CTV News Toronto.

Roncesvalles condominium owner Paula Boutis was surprised to find a rule restricting occupants of her condo to a “private single family” — and she says she was told she had to turn some rental applicants away.

“For me personally it’s very offensive,” Boutis said in an interview. “I raised with the condo my concerns that the rule is discriminatory. For example, what if two single moms came? The place is big enough, three bedrooms, they each have a kid. They can’t live there.”

She filed a human rights complaint over the rule last October, alleging that it was “morally offensive.”

That was the route recommended by the deputy minister of government and consumer services when one case was discussed during a hearing on Wednesday at Queen’s Park — but for Boutis it has been slow going.

She says it’s been a year since the complaint was filed and she doesn’t even know yet whether the tribunal will accept it.

“There’s a backlog, a significant backlog at the Human Rights Tribunal,” said her lawyer, Wade Poziomka, pointing to delays from COVID-19, as well as issues filling posts at the tribunal. “So what used to be a year, year and a half, is now two to three years.”

It appears the rules were designed to keep out potentially disruptive tenants and short-term rentals, observers said. But the rules exclude people based on their relationships.

A shorter route than a human rights tribunal might be empowering the Condo Appeals Tribunal to hear complaints about discrimination in condo rules, said NDP MPP Jessica Bell during Question Period Thursday.

“Can you commit to expanding the jurisdiction of the tribunal so condo residents have the rights and protections they deserve?” she asked.

PC MPP Bob Bailey, responding for the minister of government and consumer services, said the government is expanding the jurisdiction of the tribunal to include nuisance, but made no mention of discrimination.

“The Condominium Act is undergoing a great review right at this time,” he said.

Earlier in October, condo resident Michael Cowan says he was told if he wanted his boyfriend to move in with him, he would need to provide a marriage certificate. When he couldn’t do that, he says management deactivated his partner’s key fob.

In that case, the condo’s definition of “single family” was “a social unit consisting of parent(s) and their children, whether natural or adopted, and includes other relatives if living with the primary group.”

That exact language was common in some rules reviewed by CTV News Toronto, suggesting that it has been adopted en masse, even though it excludes single people and childless couples. Some condos did not have a specific definition, which Boutis said in her case led to excluding even people who might have fit the definition.

But among the condo rules reviewed by CTV News Toronto, there was a definition that appeared much more inclusive, listing the common language above but also including an adult person living alone, two or more siblings, a single father or mother with sons and/or daughters, two people living in a conjugal relationship, and two or more unrelated persons who are living together in order to pool their resources.

Boutis said she didn’t believe the rule should exist at all, saying if the true purpose is to reduce disruptions, then the condo rules should say that.

“We’re in a housing crisis in Toronto and we need to find ways to get people housed,” she said.

She said she wants the government of Ontario to set province-wide standards so no one is excluded from living in a condo because of who their family is.

When asked whether any legislation could be passed, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services referred to its statement Wednesday, which said there is no place for intolerance and discrimination in the province, and that Ontario’s Human Rights Code must be followed. Top Stories

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