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Duty to Accommodate

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Under the Code, housing providers have a duty to accommodate the Code-related needs of tenants, to ensure that the housing they supply is designed to be inclusive of persons identified by Code grounds, and to take steps to remove any barriers that may exist, unless to do so would cause undue hardship. Costs will amount to undue hardship if they are quantifiable, shown to be related to the accommodation, and so substantial that they would alter the essential nature of the enterprise or so significant that they would substantially affect its viability.

If a person identified by Code grounds has a need which prevents or impedes access to housing, he or she should identify this need or barrier to his or her landlord or housing provider. A landlord or housing provider must then make efforts to accommodate these needs up to the point of undue hardship.

The duty to accommodate is comprised of three principles:

  1. respect for dignity,
  2. individualization, and
  3. integration and full participation.

Respect for Dignity

Dignity will include consideration of how accommodation is provided and the individual’s own participation in the process. Housing providers should consider different ways of accommodating persons identified by Code grounds along a continuum, ranging from those ways that are most respectful of privacy, autonomy, integration and other human rights values, to those which are least respectful of those values.

Individualization

There is no set formula for accommodating individuals protected by the Code. Each person’s needs are unique and must be considered afresh when an accommodation request is made. While some accommodations may meet one person’s needs and not another’s, housing providers will likely find that many of the accommodations that they implement will benefit large numbers of people.

Integration and Full Participation

Accommodations should be developed and implemented with a view to maximizing a person’s integration and full participation. Achieving integration and full participation requires barrier-free and inclusive design and removal of existing barriers. Where barriers continue to exist because it is impossible to remove these barriers at a given point in time, then accommodations should be provided to the extent possible, short of undue hardship.

Housing providers should incorporate the principles of universal design when they are developing and constructing housing, and when they are designing housing policies, programs, and procedures. New barriers should never be created in the construction of new facilities or in the renovation of old ones. Rather, design plans should incorporate current accessibility standards such as the Canadian Standards Association’s Barrier-Free Design[85] and the Principles of Universal Design.[86] Not only will this type of pre-planning make premises attractive to a larger pool of prospective tenants, it will decrease the need to remove barriers and provide accommodations at a later date.

There are various ways in which a housing provider may be called upon to accommodate the Code-related needs of an individual. Persons with disabilities, older persons, families and others may have specific requirements that necessitate accommodation in the housing context. Concrete examples will be discussed in the following sections dealing with these specific grounds.

Housing providers may also contravene the Code if they do not provide accommodations in a timely manner. For example, in Di Marco v. Fabcic[87], the respondent landlord agreed to build a ramp and railing for the complainant (a woman with a disability) before she moved in. However, the respondent did not complete the ramp and railing in time for the closing date so the rental agreement fell through. The Tribunal found that although the respondent did not intend to discriminate against the complainant, the effect of his action did so.


[85] Document available at <http://www.csa-intl.org/onlinestore/GetCatalogItemDetails.asp?mat=200495....
[86] See <http://www.design.ncsu.edu:8120/cud/univ_design/princ_overview.htm>.
[87]Di Marco v. Fabcic (2003), CHRR Doc. 03-050, 2003 HRTO 4.

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