This case concerned the housing rights of spouses after separation.
LEAF, in partnership with the Centre for Equality Rights in Accommodation (CERA), intervened before the Ontario Superior Court of Justice.
Alba Torres lived with her husband and children in an apartment they rented from Minto Management. Ms. Torres and her husband later separated. Her husband moved out of the unit, but informed Minto that Ms. Torres and their children would continue living there. Minto told Ms. Torres that, to continue living there, she would need to sign a new lease with a rent increase of 41%. Ms. Torres applied to the Rental Housing Tribunal, which held that she was not a tenant. Ms. Torres appealed to the Ontario Superior Court of Justice.
LEAF and CERA argued that the definition of “tenant” needed to include the spouse of the person who paid the rent. Otherwise, the definition violated s. 15 of the Charter because of its disproportionate impact on women, who:
- Were more vulnerable than men to housing crises
- Were less likely to have incomes and therefore less likely to be paying rent directly to the landlord
- Were more likely to contribute to the household in the form of unpaid labour
The Court held that, when Ms. Torres’ husband informed Minto that Ms. Torres and the children would continue living in the unit, he was in effect asking Minto to assign the rental unit to them. When Minto required Ms. Torres to pay rent, Minto consented to the assignment of the tenancy. As a result, Ms. Torres was able to stay in the unit and the rent could not be increased by more than the legislated maximum amount.
LEAF is grateful to Mary Truemner, counsel in this case.
Download the factum here.
Our records are imperfect, but we are doing our best to update them – if you were involved with LEAF on this case but your name is not reflected here, please email us at [email protected].