Edmonton

Child-free rental housing to be banned in Alberta under new bill

Alberta is the only province that allows landlords to refuse to rent to people with children. The amendment would end that by making age a prohibited ground of discrimination.

Condominiums have 15 years to lose adults-only distinction

Proposed amendments to the Human Rights Act would make it illegal for landlords to refuse to rent to families with children (Zoe Todd/CBC)

The Alberta government is introducing amendments to the Human Rights Act that propose to end adult-only rental apartments and houses as of Jan. 1, 2018.

Alberta is the only province that allows landlords to refuse to rent to people with children.

The amendment would end that by making age a prohibited ground of discrimination. It would mean age can't be a factor in providing goods, services and accommodation.

If the legislation is approved, new condominiums could no longer be considered adult-only.

Existing buildings would have 15 years to make the transition. The transition phase would apply to condo units that are rented out.

There would be some exemptions.

The government would allow seniors-only buildings for people 55 and older, though a future regulation would allow a younger caregiver to stay with a resident.

Programs to help disadvantaged people could still have age restrictions, such as employment programs to help Indigenous youth.

Discounts for children and seniors, like cheaper theatre tickets, or special prices in restaurants, would be allowed to continue.

Hugh Willis with the North Alberta Chapter of the Canadian Condominium Institue said condo owners they surveyed were not happy with the end of adult-only buildings. 

"That said, we recognize that the abolishment of age-restrictions in condominiums is a trend across Canada," he said. "And as a result we are of the opinion that the 15-year transition piece is a common-sense compromise." 

Justice MInister Kathleen Ganley acknowledged that most of the feedback during the consultation period came from condo owners.

"They feel they were in position where it is much more difficult to move so we would have heard some things from rental buildings but by and large...the majority of responses and the strongest response was around condos." 

In January of this year, a Court of Queen's Bench judge gave the Alberta government one year to add age as a prohibited ground of discrimination to the act after ruling on a court challenge from Edmonton seniors' advocate Ruth Adria.

The act already prohibits age discrimination for employment, for example, but not for accommodations, goods and services.