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What language you speak or your age could affect your search for a place to rent in Metro Vancouver

METRO VANCOUVER (NEWS1130) – Imagine living in a shoddy, mouldy building or facing discrimination from potential landlords when you’re trying to rent a place. It’s a reality tens of thousands of people are dealing with in Metro Vancouver.

A new UBC study looking at housing around the region suggests one in six people experience discrimination from potential landlords.

Specifically, if English isn’t your first language, you happen to be gay or your credit history stinks, there’s a good chance you could face challenges finding a place to rent.

Dr. Penny Gurstein with UBC says this comes down to a shortage of rental housing in the region.

“We need to be encouraging a greater range of different kinds of housing,” she says. “Right now, we have very few options.”

Apart from the discrimination issues, the survey found one in five renters deal with mould or other dangerous materials in their home.

“Mould, other kinds of health issues were significant,” Gurstein tells us. “It makes it difficult for people to actually be living in certain kinds of accommodations.”

She says bed bugs are an example of such conditions.

Vancouver Councillor Geoff Meggs is also vice chair of the Metro Vancouver Housing Committee. He says while he’s not surprised by the numbers on renter discrimination, they’re concerning.

He’s calling on the province to bring on more protection for renters.┬áHe’s calling on the province to enforce existing rules to protect renters. “The province should take this findings and see if it’s really enforcing the human rights act and the rental tenancy laws appropriately and providing enough support to tenants. It doesn’t sound like it from this result.”

“At the moment, it’s quite a difficult job for a tenant to take up any questions against a landlord. It’s a complaint-based written system with very little oversight,” he tells us.

Meggs says the existing system has lax enforcement. He adds people looking for a place to live can use the renters database on the City of Vancouver website to see if a given property has a history of violations.