Quebec landlord ordered to pay $14,000 after refusing family with service dog

MONTREAL — A Quebec human rights tribunal has ordered a landlord to pay about $14,000 to a family who was refused an apartment rental due to their service dog.

The couple and their son, who has an intellectual disability and is on the autism spectrum, were refused the Montreal rental in April 2016.

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In his decision dated Sept. 4, Quebec Court Judge Mario Gervais ruled that the landlord's refusal was due to the presence of Novak, a 50-pound Labernese who helps the son manage his disabilities.

Gervais said Quebec's human rights charter forbids discrimination against people seeking a good or service that is normally available to the public, such as a lease.

A person's right to have a service dog to manage a disability is well-established, the judge added.

The landlord acknowledged refusing the rental, but claimed he did so because the family was not honest and had concealed the existence of their son and the dog during a visit to the apartment.

The landlord also claimed he made an offer to rent the apartment if the family took responsibility for all damage to the floors, but the family denies having received that offer.

Gervais sided with the family, ruling they were victims of discrimination.

"The refusal to enter into a rental housing lease need not be based solely on a ground of discrimination," he wrote. "It is sufficient that the discriminatory ground was a factor in the decision."

He ordered the landlord to pay the three family members a total of roughly $14,000 in material, moral and punitive damages.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 17, 2020.

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