SUDBURY -- A former Sudbury woman who drove to Orillia to sign a lease for a new apartment has won a human rights complaint after the landlord suddenly refused to rent to her when he learned the size of her family.

At the time of the incident, spring 2018, the woman was a single mother with two children under age 10 and a dog. She spoke with the landlord over the phone, and believed the apartment was hers. She thought that all she needed to do was drive to Orillia and sign the lease, which she did on May 12, 2018.

"When the applicant met with the respondent, however, he seemed uncomfortable," said the transcript from the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario. "The respondent informed the applicant that he needed to think about whether to rent the apartment to the applicant and would inform her of his decision the next day."

The next day, he sent her this text: " Unfortunately I won’t be renting the basement. There is a lot happening in my life right now and I too may be moving."

A few weeks later, however, the woman saw the same apartment advertised on Kijiji, stating the unit was "suitable for seniors."

'It's too small'

She texted the landlord about how disappointed she was to see the apartment now listed.

"Decided to rent but only looking for one," he responded.

When she said that's discrimination, he responded, "No, it’s too small for three and a dog."

"The applicant states that apartment was larger than most two-bedroom apartments," the transcript said. "The applicant submitted that she believes the respondent decided not to rent to her when he learned that she is a single mother with two children."

The woman was very upset, having already given her notice to her Sudbury landlord, plus she had an excellent credit rating and was willing to pay first and last month's rents.

Under Ontario's Human Rights Code, it is illegal to refuse to rent to someone because of their family status. The woman had to show there was discrimination in this case on "the balance of probabilities."

In coming to its decision, the tribunal said it had determined that the landlord had refused to rent to the woman, but was willing to rent to someone else.

"The (landlord) advertised the apartment for rent shortly after turning the applicant down, which indicates that he was untruthful when he said he decided not to rent the apartment at all," the transcript said.

Since she was refused the apartment only when the landlord discovered the size of her family, the tribunal ruled the woman had made her case.

She sought $150 for gas and expenses driving to and from Orillia, plus $2,000 "for injury to dignity, feelings and self-respect."

The $2,000 seemed appropriate, the tribunal ruled, but declined to award her the $150 because she didn't provide gasoline or other receipts.

Read the full transcript here.