$14,000 penalty for the owner who rejected service dog


A service dog is the source of a $14,000 conviction for discrimination: a landlord has been ordered by a Quebec court to pay this amount to a family to whom he refused to rent an apartment because he did not want the animal.

The 50-pound Labernois is the precious companion of a young adult with an intellectual disability and autism spectrum disorder. This is a dog donated by the Mira Foundation, which trained it. His masters were also trained. This breed of dog was chosen for its calmness and low level of activity, an expert from Mira told the court.

His parents wanted to rent a home in April 2016. The ad indicated that the animals were accepted.

It was the Human Rights Commission that brought this case to the Human Rights Tribunal.

In it, she argued that the couple, as well as their son, were discriminated against on the basis of a means used to compensate for disability in the context of signing a lease.

The owner of the Montreal-based unit admitted that he had refused the rental of the apartment to the family, but argued that it was because the parents had not been honest with him, having concealed their child and the dog during the visit to the accommodation. The bond of trust was broken, he argued. He also alleged the mother’s lack, which he said had taken him away from home when he did not want to proceed with the tenancy. He also mentioned the damage the animal would cause to the floors. He also points out that he offered to rent the apartment if the family accepted any responsibility for the floors, a proposal that the parents deny having received.

They also deny concealing information and plead discrimination.

Judge Mario Gervais agreed with the family.

He recalled in his decision that the Quebec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms includes the right to equality and prohibits discrimination in the conclusion of legal action for a good or service or service or service normally offered to the public, which includes a housing lease.

According to him, the presence of a service dog to compensate for the young man’s disability was the main factor, if not the only reason for the refusal to rent.

The right of a person with a pervasive developmental disorder to use a service dog to compensate for this disability is well established, the judge said.

“It is not necessary that the refusal to enter into a tenancy lease should be based solely on a ground of discrimination. It is sufficient that the discriminatory ground was a factor in the decision. »

He, therefore, ordered the owner of the dwelling to pay some $14,000 in property damages, moral damages, and punitive damages.

The Commission on Human Rights and Youth Rights welcomed the ruling, which reminds homeowners of their human rights obligations.

Discriminatory selection between applicants for renting a home is strictly prohibited on the basis of charter grounds, including disability, social condition, skin color, and sexual orientation, Commission President Philippe-André Tessier said in a statement.

In this case, “the sense of injustice and frustration arising from physical characteristics such as disability has contributed to the dignity of the victims,” he says.

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