New reports confirm that evictions in Canada contravene human rights law

January 11, 2024 – Ottawa, Ontario – Office of the Federal Housing Advocate

Today, the Office of the Federal Housing Advocate released a series of reports that confirm that evictions in Canada contravene human rights law.

Everyone has a right to feel stable in their home, to know they can stay there long-term without being displaced. This is known as security of tenure, and it is an essential part of the human right to adequate housing.

Yet in Canada, tenants face housing insecurity and evictions, which have catastrophic effects on their well-being, employment, and child development. To make matters worse, Canada is missing 4.4M homes affordable to low- and moderate-income households – meaning that when renters lose their homes, there may be no other options available.

The reports released today – authored by legal experts – conclude that when it comes to eviction, Canada is not applying fundamental human rights principles. For example, international law forbids eviction into homelessness, and says that tribunals must consider all possible alternatives before putting a household out of their home. In contrast, in Canada it is not uncommon for a family to be evicted for rent payment arrears equivalent to one month’s rent or less, rather than be offered a repayment plan. Meanwhile, only a tiny minority of tenants facing eviction have access to legal representation, despite the seriousness of losing their homes.

The reports also confirm that people who are members of disadvantaged groups such as Indigenous people, Black and racialized people, people with disabilities, low-income households, and others, are disproportionately impacted by evictions. This suggests systemic discrimination, in contravention of national and provincial human rights legislation.

Evictions became an issue of national concern during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Many renters lost their income and fell behind on rent, quickly becoming at risk of eviction. While some programs were introduced at the federal and provincial levels to support tenants, the majority are now closed or unable to meet demand.

The reports conclude that steps must be taken at all levels of government to uphold the right to security of tenure for everyone. A key focus of the solutions proposed by the research is to ensure national standards when it comes to eviction – both for access to justice for tenants, and for human rights principles to be equally applied in all provinces and territories.

Upholding the right to housing for tenants across Canada must include improved and equal protections from eviction, no matter where they live.

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  • The Office of the Federal Housing Advocate commissioned a series of research reports from seven legal experts to provide their expertise on various dimensions of security of tenure and eviction, and to make recommendations on how the mechanisms under the National Housing Strategy Act can be employed to improve security of tenure.
  • The research and findings will form the basis for the Advocate’s ongoing work on this issue and her recommendations to governments.
  • The reports focus on key theme such as:
  • Submissions received by the Advocate confirm the prevalence of this issue, as 30% of people who submitted said they had been evicted or forced to move – in more than half of cases (54%) these were “no-fault” evictions initiated by the landlord for their own use, renovation, or sale of the property.
  • We have heard about this issue in submissions from organizations including the National Indigenous Housing Network and Women’s National Housing and Homelessness Network, as well as commissioned research reports on barriers facing Two Spirit, Trans, and Non-Binary people. They confirm the strong gendered dimensions of this issue. In particular, the prevalence of informal evictions for women and gender-diverse persons, such as housing loss resulting from the end of a relationship or termination of a roommate arrangement.
  • The Advocate has begun to implement the guidance from these reports. Issues of eviction and security of tenure have been highlighted throughout the Advocate’s reports and recommendations, including:

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Media Relations

Sarah Buler
Associate Professor, College of Law
University of Saskatchewan

Alan Hanna Assistant Professor, Faculty of Law
University of Victoria

Shelley Buckingham
Director of Communications
Canadian Centre for Housing Rights

Priya S. Gupta
Associate Professor, McGill University Faculty of Law

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