Ninety-three per cent of black real estate agents believe discrimination plays a role in the rental process in Ontario, according to a new report from the Ontario Real Estate Association.
The association’s Presidential Advisory Group (PAG) on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion released its first-ever ‘Fighting for Fair Housing’ report on Tuesday, which outlines 19 recommendations on how to eliminate racism. systemic and improve inclusion in Ontario’s housing market.
The report also says four in 10 real estate agents in the province say they’ve had a rental contract fail because of discrimination.
“Unfortunately, this is a real thing that happens and it’s very difficult. If you can’t find a place to rent, let alone buy. I mean, renting is really the first step on that property ladder And if you can’t even get a foothold on the first step, that’s a huge problem,” PAG chair Davelle Morrison told CP24.
More than a third of estate agents have experienced discrimination or racism and one in four BIPOC estate agents say a client has refused to work with them because of their identity, according to the report.
Meanwhile, two in 10 consumers say they have been treated unfairly, while BIPOC and LGBTQ2S+ people are more likely to say it has happened to them.
Additionally, 16% of consumers surveyed said they encountered barriers during the mortgage process due to their race, ethnicity, gender identity or sexual orientation.
“I have anecdotal studies. I have Caucasian agents who come to me all the time saying ‘what’s wrong? I can’t believe this is happening to my client. They have an incredible credit score. They make a ton of money, they have a great job but the owner won’t accept them,” Morrison said.
The PAG noted that there is no “safe” reporting mechanism for consumers to turn to when they want to report discriminatory or racist incidents.
Eighty percent of consumers surveyed said they did not know where to go to report instances of discrimination.
Despite the report’s findings, the report indicates that a number of real estate agents do not recognize that there is a problem.
“In fact, when OREA actually started the investigation, they actually got quite a few angry emails from some estate agents who were angry because they were even doing this job to begin with. Because that they just didn’t see there was a problem, which of course made us realize the true extent of the problem,” Morrison said.
To end racism and inequality in the province’s rental and housing market, the PAG made 19 recommendations, including:
- Advocating for a review of Ontario’s Residential Tenancies Act (2006), with the goal of improving access to affordable housing for disadvantaged communities
- Reduce government-imposed costs on new rental projects, including duplexes, triplexes and walk-ups
- Build 99,000 community housing units over the next decade, to eliminate the current backlog and accommodate future growth
- Encourage the expansion of affordable homeownership programs for disadvantaged communities, including rent-to-own programs
OREA said it would take steps to review internal governance structures, board selection processes and policies to increase BIPOC in leadership positions within real estate associations.
PAG worked with research firm Ipsos to collect the survey results. Nearly 1,500 consumers, including a “large sample of BIPOC and LGBTQ2S+ consumers,” and nearly 2,000 real estate agents were surveyed, according to the report.
The consumer survey is considered accurate to within +3.1 points, 19 times out of 20. As for the real estate agents questioned, OREA has invited all its members to take part in the survey, which constitutes a census. Therefore, there is no associated precision calculation because the results contain no sampling error.