Periodically, I type my site URL into a browser to see where in the deep seas of the internet my site has been referenced. Often times, I see my site come up on blogs, and forums for random things. One blog was referencing my site because I had a photo of a Soshi Screen on one of my listings. And of course, my site comes up on the most random, irrelevant sites pretty frequently. I just ignore those, since they are usually scrapers stealing content from my site and pasting it on theirs. These are the internet bottomfeeders. But there was a reference that I came across that I couldn’t really ignore. It was on a popular dating site’s forums page here http://forums.plentyoffish.com/4710263datingPostpage3.aspx – and the topic was “Calgary Landlords refuse to rent to Single Parents!” This is a pretty bold statement, of course, and since a lot of people were talking about it, I thought I should look a little further.
“Dawni” wrote “Greetings Fellow POFers,
Are there any homeowners in Calgary that will rent to a Professionally Employed Single Parent???” She goes on to explain that she has applied to 25 landlords and only two have called her references. She goes on and writes “just because it’s a landlords market, they feel they can discriminate against me because they can? I make more money than some couples, but they are not taking that into consideration. I have excellent references, will smoke outside and have no dogs/cats! What more can they ask for? That I go marry someone tomorrow so I can rent a house? I’m sorry, but I’m just so flippin angry at the discrimination happening in this city right now.” Dawni goes further by saying “but I could quit smoking to rent a house…I can’t just toss my kids away.”
I kept reading the many threads on this forum. A few people offered different suggestions as to why “Dawni” might be having a hard time finding a place. One suggested that she is a smoker. Another suggested that since she is only looking for a 2.5 month lease, no landlord in their right mind would agree to that. However, many other single mothers posted that they had a similar experience with trying to find rental accommodations in Calgary.
Reading further, I was thrilled to see that a landlord, or “landlady” posted her perspective: “HI… from a landlords perspective,
I would like to start off by saying to you that in Calgary for the past 4 months we have been sitting at a “0″ percent vacancy. I have been a landlady for over a year and i know that right now , the market is a tough sell. I can get upwards to 100 phone calls a day for people apartment hunting. I always am willing to give single parents a chance for sure… as long as you meet the requirements that every other person applying to the place has to too.
Another landlord offered a different perspective that struck a nerve with some of the single moms in the forum. This person said “If landlords all across Canada are saying “No Kids”, there is a reason for it. A risk/reward cost factor associated with that preference. People don’t set requirements in business for no reason at all, they make choices that reduce their risk. You don’t want to live in a building with rusty nails sticking out everywhere do you? Because you may find the risk of living there not worth the price you pay. In the same way, a landlord has to mitigate their risk when dealing with prospective renters.”
I did find a link that talks specifically of the laws of Alberta, and about discrimination here: http://text.alis.gov.ab.ca/welcometoalberta/accommodation.asp
This site says very plainly:
Discrimination – In Alberta, landlords are not allowed to refuse to rent places to people because of their race, religion, colour, gender, age, ancestry, place of origin, marital status, family status, source of income, physical disability, mental disability or sexual orientation. If a landlord refuses to rent a place to you for any of these reasons, you can complain to the Alberta Human Rights and Citizenship Commission.
Dawni was the most active participant in this discussion, and I have to give her credit in that instead of simply complaining, she made a sort of “call to arms” in one of her posts and offered a solution/suggestion to her fellow single mothers. She writes “I don’t want to share these links because that gives me more competition lol, I feel I need to share my listing links with you…lets network together and help each other find affordable housing..”
She then went on to list about 15 websites that are her favorite resources for housing on the internet. I was thrilled to see that my site was listed in there. A few others that were listed: homebase.ca, rentfaster.ca, rentalberta.ca and calgaryhomerentals.com.
Of course, as is mentioned on my site, I am very against any type of discrimination when it comes to housing. I try to monitor each ad that is posted, and if there is a problem, I will either edit the ad, or take the ad off completely.
I don’t personally know if Dawni’s argument is true or not in Calgary, or anywhere else in Canada. I think that the 0% vacancy rate in Calgary can account for some of the hard feelings, but I also believe that some landlords will discriminate.
I will offer my help in this way – If there is a landlord or property manager that will claim that they do not discriminate whatsoever against single moms in Calgary – I will post a free one-page ad for them linked to from the Calgary rentals page on my site. How’s that? All they need to do is shoot me an email and introduce themselves! In the meantime, I hope that landlords everywhere will treat each applicant equally and fairly.