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Landlord won't rent to Coquitlam family because she's from Europe, woman claims

'This is pure racial profiling,' says Coquitlam renter.
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Landlord seeking to rent Coquitlam home asks for country of origin, angering prospective renter.

Landlords have the upper hand when it comes to renting properties in Metro Vancouver.

But one Coquitlam woman says things have even gotten worse in recent months since she started looking for a new home for herself, her husband and two children.

"It's crazy out there," said Lisa, who asked that her last name not be used because she's still trying to find decent accommodation for herself and her family.

"Next they'll be wanting a blood test," she added, noting how difficult it is to find an affordable place in the current market and with landlords demanding to know all sorts of private information to judge whether she would be a suitable tenant.

In recent weeks, Lisa has has been asked to answer all sorts of questions that invade her privacy, from the make of her cars to what credit cards she has. One landlord wanted a screenshot of her latest bank statements.


But the most egregious personal question came on Monday when Lisa said she was asked by a prospective landlord what country she's originally from.

Lisa, who is originally from Albania, told the landlord via Facebook Marketplace chat that she was from Europe. Lisa provided a screenshot of the message that is attached to this story.

After answering this question, the landlord suddenly blocked her from the conversation.

When she tried to ask why he wanted the information, the chat message was denied and couldn't be sent.

Lisa, who has been told in the past a landlord wouldn't rent to her because she wasn't among his preferred groups, says she feels hurt.

It was a home for rent for $5,300 a month and Lisa said she and her husband, who are both professionals, could afford the rent so why were they denied a view of the place.

"This is pure racial profiling," said Lisa, who said this shouldn't be happening in Canada where people are supposed to be tolerant of people from different backgrounds.


Tenants do have recourse, however, and can hold landlords accountable, according to the Tenant Resource and Advisory Centre.

While the Residential Tenancy Act is the main piece of legislation that governs tenants’ and landlords’ rights and responsibilities, section 10 of the BC Human Rights Code provides tenants with additional protections concerning discrimination in tenancies.

A landlord may not refuse to rent to you because of your:

  • race
  • colour
  • ancestry
  • place of origin
  • religion
  • marital status
  • family status
  • physical or mental disability
  • sex
  • sexual orientation
  • age (if 19 or older)
  • lawful source of income

According to TRAC, if you think you may have been discriminated against, you can contact the BC Human Rights Clinic at 1-855-685-6222.

As as an immigrant, she said the experience was a "wake-up call" as to how Canadians judge each other when it comes to renting a property.

"They [landlords] are doing this to people because they can. It's really discouraging to say but it’s the truth," Lisa said.


She doesn't believe it's fair for landlords to only rent to people from certain backgrounds that they are more comfortable with. In fact, Lisa is a landlord herself, and owns three small condos, which she rents out. 

She said she would never discriminate against a renter based on the country they are originally from and told the Tri-City News that treating people with respect is often returned. She's had no problems with her renters.

Lisa said her family has to move because the owner of the rental home just sold the building, and she was given two months to find a new place.

She can't move into her condos because they are too small and she doesn't want to displace anyone. But she said she needs to find a place to rent until a townhouse she bought is completed, which won't be until the middle of next year.

In the meantime, she and her husband are worried they won't find a place to rent in time in the Burke Mountain area, which is close to schools and daycare.

"I just want other people to know if they experienced this to come out and say they have experienced it. It’s so hard, I don’t know what’s going on with this housing market."