Module 7: HIV, Stigma, and Housing — Disclosure and discrimination


Disclosure and discrimination

You are not required to tell a landlord that you have HIV.


It is illegal for landlords to deny rental housing to people because of their HIV status. However, discrimination persists, and it can be hard to prove and take action against. Many people living with HIV do not mention their HIV status when dealing with housing matters. This strategy can help to protect them from discrimination.


Some people living with HIV receive monthly income assistance, rental subsidies, or other forms of financial assistance. This can also lead to discrimination, even though landlords are not allowed to discriminate against prospective tenants based on source of income, as long as it’s legal. Often, landlords will screen out housing applicants who receive monthly income assistance They may even discourage individuals who receive monthly income assistance from applying for housing by stating in advertisements that they seek tenants who are “young professionals” or “working adults.”


Connecting with a housing worker can greatly help with navigating these challenges. Housing workers are knowledgeable about tenancy law, can help advocate for you, and may know landlords who are willing to rent housing to low-income people.


The landlord has the right to establish that you will be able to pay the rent. If they are not able to do so through your references, they are allowed to ask you for proof of income or current employment. Although they should not ask you why you receive monthly income assistance or a rental subsidy, they may anyway. In that case, you may want to try explaining that it is private information and that the important thing is you have a reliable source of income and will be able to pay your rent.


Landlords are not supposed to ask prospective tenants for more information than they need, but a recent investigation found that they often ask for too much personal information. If you’re wondering if a landlord is allowed to ask a particular question, you can check this resource or this report from BC’s Information and Privacy Commissioner. You always have the right to ask why a landlord wants a certain piece of information.


If you believe you have been discriminated against, talk to a support worker. You can contact the BC Human Rights Clinic if you are interested in filing a complaint.