lucas oleniuk/torstar news service
Geordie Dent, director of the Federation of Metro Tenants’ Associations
The story of a deaf woman who didn’t get a single reply when she inquired into dozens of Toronto apartments was no surprise for human rights and housing
Quinn Cruise, a 25-year-old student who is deaf, sent 30 emails inquiring about rooms advertised for rent last September. She didn’t get a single response
until she removed the word “deaf” from her message.
“These are barriers that are constantly being faced by people that are deaf or hard of hearing,” said Gordana Mosher of the Canadian Hearing Society.
Geordie Dent, director of the Federation of Metro Tenants’ Associations, said the organization’s hotline receives a handful of calls every year from deaf
people who feel they’ve been discriminated against.
“People who have disabilities, often landlords don’t want to deal with (them), especially in the private market,” he said.
But it is against the law for landlords to discriminate against anyone with a physical or mental disability. They must also provide “reasonable” accommodations — such as a visual fire alarm in the case of a deaf tenant.
But Ontario landlords say it’s not always that simple. A new visual fire alarm can cost between $500 and $1,500, according to Mosher. Small-scale landlords may not have the money to invest in such a system.
“A lot of landlords have nothing against someone who has a disability, but maybe they’re a little bit concerned that they’d have to invest more to accommodate the person,” said Stuart Henderson, a spokesman for the Ontario Landlords Association.
Inexperienced landlords may also be worried about how to take care of a tenant with a disability, he added. “They don’t know what to do if there’s a problem.”