Toronto landlord owes man with disabilities, daughter $60K after 'campaign' of harassment

January 23, 2019

A Toronto man was denied an apartment because of his disabilities, and then he and his pregnant daughter endured "a campaign" of abuse and harassment from the landlord after a relative helped them secure a unit and move into the building, according to a decision by the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario (HRTO).

Six months later, the father and daughter are still waiting for the $60,000 their former landlord — Carolyn Goodman and her company Havcare Investments Inc. — was ordered to pay them in damages.

All Craig Smith wanted to do was rent a place for himself and his daughter on his own.

For most people, that might not be complicated, but the former elevator mechanic hadn't been able to do much independently since he was hit by a car 10 years ago and suffered a traumatic brain injury.

"I had trouble doing the daily tasks, getting dressed, going out in public, socializing with people," said Smith, who speaks with a noticeable stutter.

Smith's daughter, Tiara Ramnarine-Smith, was 12 when he was injured and started taking care of him. In the years since, Smith's condition has improved, but he's still unable to work and lives on Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) benefits.

So in July 2015, when he saw there were apartments for rent at 500 Dawes Rd., a highrise in Toronto's east end, he called the building, and then kept calling.

No 'units available for people like you'

"I was trying to be independent," Smith told CBC Toronto. "The superintendent, because I stutter a little bit, definitely knew who I was … I had 10, 15 phone conversations with them about getting an apartment and they always kept putting me off."

In one of those conversations, Smith was also told the building "only rented to working people" and "they did not have units available for people like you at this time," according to the HRTO decision.

That's when Ramnarine-Smith got her mother to apply for a unit in the building on their behalf, and she was able to secure an apartment right away, according to the HRTO decision.

The HRTO adjudicator found Smith "was discriminated against in housing when the respondents denied him housing accommodation in whole or in part because he is a person with a disability and because he is in receipt of social assistance."

But getting an apartment was only the first of a series of obstacles the father and daughter faced at 500 Dawes Rd. before the complaint was brought to the HRTO.

Read more: Toronto landlord owes man with disabilities, daughter $60K after 'campaign' of harassment