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'Fraught landscape': Vaughan house listing demands tenants be vaccinated
Aug. 11, 2021

Two lawyers are questioning the legality and morality of a recent Vaughan rental advertisement that required prospective tenants be fully vaccinated.

The advertisement, seen by on the website, which is only accessible to real estate agents, made the demand under the “brokers remarks” section in which other requirements were listed, including a minimum one-year rental application, job letter, current pay stubs and references, among others.

The potentially offending sentence states “tenant fully vaccinated required”.

When contacted, the real estate agent, Glen Chen, said it was the landlord -- who will not be living at the property and is renting out the Camino Drive home in its entirety -- who required the vaccine.

“Every landlord has (their own requirements),” he said. “You can ask (for) no smoking, no pets. I don’t think that’s different.”

He added that the property has been leased and it’s no longer on the market.

During a second conversation, Chen said in the end they didn’t end up requesting documents from tenants.

Caryma Sa’d, a housing lawyer, said the real estate agent is correct in saying that landlords can request any number of prerequisites, unless of course they contravene the Human Rights Code or are illegal, which this request very well may be.

“That’s where we run into problems, some people can’t be vaccinated (due to pre-existing medical conditions) and that’s a potential form of discrimination,” she said. “I think this is a relatively small group of people, but there are cases where someone can’t and will have to rely on herd immunity, someone like that would be discriminated against.”

She said the request for prospective tenants to be vaccinated is part of an ongoing trend by landlords and real estate agents to request more and more private information from people in exchange for rental agreements.

“I know there’s a lot of competition and people give lots of information to prospective landlords, that trend doesn’t sit well with me … it’s a fraught landscape,” she added. “(This incident) is not clearly illegal, but it could be.”

Cara Zwibel, a lawyer with the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, who focuses on constitutional freedoms, said the issue is not about whether the landlord required proof, but more about human rights.

“(These actions) could run afoul of the Human Rights Code,” she said. “At a basic human rights level and a societal level the question is whether people should be denied housing because they are not vaccinated? I think the answer should be an emphatic no.”

She said it’s difficult form her standpoint to understand what relevance the prospective tenant's vaccine status would be, especially considering the landlord doesn't plan on living in the same home.

“If the landlord had an immune deficiency I would understand it, I don’t even know if that’s legal, but I could see the justification,” she added.

Last week The Toronto Star wrote about a woman who said she lost her basement apartment after the landlord allegedly took umbrage to her hosting vaccinated guest at the home.

The landlord, who does live in the home, had it a requirement not to have vaccinated visitors.