The Canadian Civil Liberties Association says Yellowknife's largest landlord should be accommodating people on income assistance.

Late last week, the company announced it was tightening up its rules on renting to people who rely on income assistance, saying it lost $200,000 last year because people on income support stopped paying rent.

Noa Mendelsohn Aviv

Noa Mendelsohn Aviv is director of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association's equality program. (Canadian Civil Liberties Association)

The company requires potential renters to provide landlord references, a credit rating and proof they make two and a half times what rent costs every month. Last week, a spokesperson said they would no longer make exceptions for people on income support who don’t meet the criteria.

Noa Mendelsohn Aviv is the director of the civil liberties group’s equalities program.

She says it may be difficult for people on income assistance to meet that criteria.

She also says it targets them unfairly and could be considered discrimination.

“When it comes to discrimination, it doesn't just mean they apply the same criteria to everybody, it also means that if criteria unjustifiably impact a particular group, then you need to examine whether these criteria make sense,” she explains.

The Northwest Territories Human Rights Act prohibits discrimination based on social conditions, which includes the source of a person's income.

A New Brunswick human rights commission found landlords and employers must avoid practices that exclude people based on their social condition.

That means they can't refuse to rent to someone just because they are on social assistance.