Parenting

No smokers, no pets, no kids

Kristy and her fiancé are combining households. But finding a landlord who would rent to them wasn't easy. Why? They have kids.

Image by blackjake/iStock

“The following individuals will be living at said premises. No other person(s) are allowed without the prior written permission of the landlord:”

Crap.

When I saw this on the application form to rent an apartment, my heart sank. We’d just found the place…the Perfect Home…for my fiancé, his son, my daughter and me to start our new family unit. The location and the space were right, but when I saw that I had to list all the occupants, I knew we wouldn’t get it. Trying to rent with kids is almost worse than being an unemployed, smoking, dog owner.

When I tell people that, they look at me incredulously and ask: “Doesn’t it make sense to rent to someone with kids? Doesn’t it show you’re stable?” No. Children make noise and they could potentially tick off other childless tenants. And that causes problems for the landlord. Landlords are averse to problems.

I’ve been in this position before. After my ex-husband left, I sold my house north of Toronto and moved back to the city. Trying to find an apartment as a single mother was even more challenging. (The term “single mom” tends to stir up visions of welfare.)

Yes, it’s illegal to discriminate against renting to people with kids. There have been lawsuits. But landlords have ways of working around that.

When I’d call to inquire about seeing a place, I would be up front and say that it was for my daughter and me. I was told several times that the place isn’t “suitable for children” or that the stairs are too steep or that they suddenly remembered it might be rented and they’d get back to me. They never did. “Whatever” I’d tell myself. “I don’t want to live some place Rory and I aren’t welcome anyway.”

When I rented the current house that I’m living in, the landlords at first agreed to rent to me. Then they called the next day and said that they had reconsidered. They had never rented to someone with a child before and they thought I might sue them if my daughter hurts herself on the property.

I panicked. I needed a place in my child’s school zone (a very small geographic area when trying to rent decent, affordable housing) and I needed to move. I calmly asked them to change their minds again. They did, but I had to agree to two conditions: sign a waiver saying I wouldn’t sue them and sign a lease that said I would pay for some major repairs to the house. Time was ticking. So I signed.

This time around, I had a fiancé (removing the single mom label), but we have two kids (double whammy). We are not the YPC (young professional couple) that every landlord salivates over.

So when I stared at the line on the form asking who will reside at the “Perfect Place,” I actually considered leaving it blank or claiming we adopted our kids a day or two before we moved in. I knew it was down to us and a YPC. But it’s a legal document, so I filled it out properly.

The YPC got it.

Thankfully, we found another place a couple of weeks later. When our new landlord called to let us know the place was ours, he said: “I’d like to welcome you and your family.” That’s when I knew we’d found The Perfect Place after all.

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