Metro Vancouver's liberal population and strong anti-discrimination laws make it an important "hard test case" for rental discrimination in major North American urban centres, says Lauster, who co-authored the study with graduate student Adam Easterbrook.
Lauster says more work is needed to ensure landlords and renters are aware that discrimination by sexual preference or family relationship is illegal in Canada. With many U.S. states considering new applications of anti-discrimination legislation, the findings reiterate the importance of such protections in the housing market, he adds.
The study was based on responses to e-mail inquiries about one- and two-bedroom apartments sent out to landlords advertising vacancies through popular online housing websites like Craigslist. Inquiries were identical except for minor variations by five family types: heterosexual couples, same-sex male couples, same-sex female couples, single mother with child and single father with child.
For example, e-mail inquiries were identical except for opposite- or same-sex partner mentions and signatures such as "Matt and Kate," "Matt and Kevin" or "Melissa and Kate." Single-parent scenarios referred to a son or daughter instead of partners and the gender of the parent.
The study found no significant differences in landlord responses to female same-sex couples relative to heterosexual couples. No landlord or property manager received more than one e-mail inquiry during the study.
According to 2006 census data, there were 71,250 single-mother families and 16,870 single-father families living in the Vancouver metropolitan area, representing more than 15 per cent of families. Recent census figures also suggest Vancouver has more than 4,700 same-sex couples, approximately 10 per cent of same-sex couples in Canada.
|Contact: Basil Waugh|
University of British Columbia