Couple in early 20s denied Toronto condo rental due to their age

news3_1 January 30, 2017

News

It's tough enough finding a decent place to rent in Toronto's red-hot housing market, but it's proving even harder for at least two millennials who say they've been denied a condo rental because of their age.

Ryan Young, 23, and Nina Tesan, 22, are trying to move out of their respective parents' homes and start out on their own. Now, they've filed a complaint with Ontario's Human Rights Tribunal.

It shows how bleak the housing market can be for millennials, as we do not have the level of income necessary to afford a house in the [Greater Toronto Area] and also seemingly cannot rent due to misguided perceptions that young people are irresponsible or destructive," Young told CBC Toronto.

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Last week, they provided a prospective landlord with credit reports that rated them as "excellent." They provided letters from their employers showing they have full-time jobs and a combined income of about $80,000 a year.

The two-bedroom, two-bathroom condo they hoped to rent goes for $1,900 a month. The couple planned for two of Tesan's sisters to move in to share costs and help them save money for the future.

None of that was good enough, apparently. Last week, in an email denying the couple's rental application, Edmund Fajardo of Royal LePage Terrequity Realty wrote: "After discussing it with my client, she's decided that she would not like to have four young adults living in her apartment.

The couple's own real estate agent, Tony Sbrocchi, questioned Fajardo about his comments and provided CBC Toronto with the email Fajardo sent in return.

"They're in their early 20s, and my client wasn't interested in the potential problems that may arise from it," Fajardo wrote.

"They have great credit for now, but they've never had to maintain a home themselves nor had the responsibility of having to pay the expenses of living on their own," he continued. "Their combined income of just over 78K gross, in our opinion, is too low."

Fajardo ended his email with: "You can go ahead and expend your energy in filing a complaint. Good luck."

Ontario's Human Rights Code and the Residential Tenancies Act forbid landlords from using age to discriminate against potential renters.

"My reply to the listing agent was, 'Wow.' I've never heard of this before. We figured the application was a slam dunk. We were not prepared for this at all," Sbrocchi told CBC Toronto.

According to land registry records, the fourth-floor corner unit at 3685 Lake Shore Blvd. W. is owned by Jennifer Gee. Through her agent, Gee asked for a $500 damage deposit from potential tenants — something that is also prohibited under the act.

CBC Toronto made several attempts to reach Gee, but was unable to contact her. Fajardo did not reply to requests for comment.

On a Royal LePage website, Fajardo describes himself as a career real estate professional who has "had the opportunity to help many people achieve their goals."

Young and Tesan said they are disappointed their goal of starting a new, financially independent chapter in their lives has been denied. In the meantime, they continue to look for another place to rent.

Sbrocchi has raised the issue with Fajardo's agency. He suggests the landlord's refusal may not only be legally problematic, but socially, too.

"We're in a society now and everyone thinks millennials are going to be their parents' basement dwellers till they're 35. That could be a reality if people don't rent to them," he said.

Sbrocchi noted the couple's planned $1,900 rent was less than 30 per cent of their monthly income — an indicator of housing-cost affordability. Sbrocchi said many homeowners have monthly mortgage and other debt loads well above that threshold.

"I am baffled by all this," he said.

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