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'No Indian': Racist Vancouver rental ad not surprising to property manager

A Vancouver-based lawyer says the rental posting is blatantly discriminatory and contrary to the B.C. Human Rights Code.

A Vancouver online rental listing is raising concerns for being racist and violating the human rights code. 

The advertisement posted on Craigslist for a one-bedroom rental reads ‘No Indian!’ The posting was shared on social media and then deleted, only to post it later with the exclusion of the ’no Indian' phrasing.

Vancouver-based lawyer Kyla Lee says the posting is discriminatory. 

“I was shocked to see the post. It is blatantly discriminatory and blatantly contrary to the provisions of the B.C. Human Rights Code,” she says. “As a lawyer, I can't imagine that anybody who posted an ad like that was familiar with the laws in B.C. surrounding discrimination and tenancy.”

A person responding to a cellphone number on the posting says they don't regret the original phrasing in the online ad.

"I can’t live with a Indian," they texted a Glacier Media reporter. "Why don’t you share your place with Indian?"

Glacier Media shared the post with the Ministry of Housing who provided an email statement in response. 

“Racist discrimination is unacceptable and has no place in B.C.,” says Niki Sharma, the province's attorney general. "Our government is continually updating B.C.’s laws to ensure they meet our commitment to anti-racism and protect people.”

Under the Human Rights Code, a person cannot refuse to rent to someone else on the basis of a protected category such as age, gender, sexual orientation, Indigenous identity, race or religion.

The Ministry of Housing adds that the code also sets out some situations in which a person can refuse to rent to someone else based on a protected category, including where the owner of the accommodation will share a bathroom or kitchen with the tenant.

“The section can play an important role in protecting people, such as someone belonging to a religion with specific dietary restrictions, we are examining the implications of the section in relation to our commitment to anti-racism,” states a spokesperson for the Ministry of Housing. 

Lee says landlords are not allowed to discriminate against an individual based on their race.

"There are repercussions in the sense that if you filed a complaint to the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal against the person who had posted the ad,” she says.

The person could be sanctioned by the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal, and could have to pay monetary compensation for discrimination. 

Lee says this can be difficult as Craigslist is a system that uses anonymous posters. 

“Identifying the person who's engaging in the discrimination becomes very difficult, and somebody would have to determine the identity of the discriminator in order to properly serve them with documents related to the Human Rights Tribunal process,” she says. 

She cautions landlords to think twice about being discriminatory, especially when it comes to only renting to certain ethnic backgrounds of specific genders. 

Keaton Bessey works as a managing broker at a tenant and property management company in the greater Vancouver area and was not surprised to see the listing and suspects the individual is not an experienced landlord. 

“There's an increase in the lack of education around what landlords can and cannot do,” he says. "And also, what they should and should not do."

Bessey hopes this person is a good person who made a mistake and will learn that this is not allowed in Canada. 

“That person probably would have just got flooded with horrible messages, which whether or not they deserve it or not, [hopefully] they've learned a lesson pretty quickly,” he says.

Glacier Media asked the person if they are aware that refusing to rent to someone based on race is against the human rights code, but they did not respond.