How the Sask. Human Rights Code applies through the whole rental process

A Saskatoon lawyer explains how the Saskatchewan Human Rights Code offers many protections for renters throughout their time as a tenant.

Legislation can protect you during application process, after move-in, and if circumstances change

If you're renting in Saskatchewan, you may have more rights than you're aware of under the provincial Human Rights Code. (Paul Sakuma/Associated Press)

If you're renting in Saskatchewan, you may have more rights than you're aware of under the provincial Human Rights Code.

"The Human Rights Code applies throughout the whole rental process, so as soon as someone is advertising for a unit they would be required to comply," explained Ben Ralston during an interview with CBC Radio's Saskatoon Morning.

Ralston practises law in the city and is an assistant professor at the University of Saskatchewan College of Law. 

On Monday, he's giving a presentation on how the Human Rights Code applies to tenants at a Renters of Saskatoon and Area meeting.

Saskatoon attorney Ben Ralston gave a presentation on how the Human Rights Code applies to tenants. (Rosalie Woloski/CBC)

According to Ralston, those protections extend beyond discrimination on the basis of race or nationality.

"For example, if someone were to advertise a unit and say explicitly 'no children' or explicitly 'Christians only' or something to that effect, that would be an example of direct discrimination that would be illegal," said Ralston.

Changing circumstances

Ralston added that the province's human rights legislation applies if circumstances change for tenants, too. Take, for example, accommodating the unexpected development of a disability.

Ralston also pointed to the development of an addiction or a medically diagnosed chemical sensitivity as areas where a landlord may be legally required to provide reasonable accommodation for a tenant.

"[Another example] might be where someone is renting out to a single adult who then becomes pregnant or has a child," said Ralston. 

He said a new addition to the family can't be considered grounds to evict a tenant; instead, a landlord would need to demonstrate that the change creates "undue hardship."

User friendly 

While the idea of trying to get help using the Human Rights Code may seem overwhelming, Ralston said there are online resources available to help.

"The Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission is, generally speaking, a process intended to help, primarily, laypersons who are self-represented through the process," said Ralston.

"[It's] really intended to be a process that's accessible to average people without legal representation."

With files from CBC Radio's Saskatoon Morning