Lola is the mother of a newborn. She lives with her husband and her infant daughter in Calgary, Alberta.
My husband and I rented an adult-only condo in August 2017. The condo was in a relatively newer subdivision called Cranston, in the far south end of Calgary. It was about a 30-minute drive from Downtown Calgary.
Coming from Ontario, we did not know that such a thing as ‘adult-only’ existed in Alberta and we were not informed when we moved in.
Prior to moving in, we signed a lease. One of the conditions of the lease, relating to ‘OTHER OCCUPANTS’ noted:
The Landlord/Landlord’s Agent and the Tenant agree that the premises may be occupied by the Tenant, the Tenant’s spouse and their children, unless the Landlord/Landlord’s Agent consents in writing to the occupation of the premises by some other or an additional person or persons. [emphasis added]
To that end, this section of the lease would appear to cover any children, either those alive at the time the lease was signed, or those who come into being after the lease was signed.
However, after having signed the lease and after having moved in, maybe a week or two after gaining occupancy of the condo, we received a copy of the Policies & Procedures Manual. Within the text of the Policies & Procedures Manual, it is noted that the condo is described as ‘an ADULT ONLY community.’
As the Policies & Procedures Manual described it:
All residential suites must be occupied by a person who has already obtained their eighteenth (18th) birthday. For visitors under the age of eighteen (18), please refer to the Bylaws which reference the Restrictive Covenant registered on your Title, Section 75 (a) and (b).
In July 2018, we renewed our lease with the rental agency, with the renewal period set for August 1, 2018 to July 31, 2019. At the time, I was already 33 weeks pregnant; the rental agency representative saw me and did not specify this was an 18+ building and that we should not renew lease. He gladly took our 12 months of post-dated cheques and said nothing.
Note that our lease stated that the tenants and their children can occupy the unit. So we thought it was okay to stay in our unit with a child.
Only two weeks after I gave birth, we were informed, by the rental agency and the condo board, that we needed to move and that our lease had been terminated, as they had been informed that we have a baby. At the time, I was still recovering from the delivery so that was the last thing that I wanted to deal with at the time. They did not say how long we had to move out.
My husband and I were wondering if we would have had grounds to fight this, especially given the contradictory wording in our lease. We would have preferred to have been given at least six months to find a place and thereby avoid having to move in winter with a newborn. Nevertheless, the condo board and rental agency were insistent, so we had to move out more abruptly, which we did.
We did some searching for a lawyer, but we were unable to find any lawyer who would assist us for a reasonable price. Nevertheless, given that we did not settle, it means that we are still able to tell our story, as we are doing here.
My husband and I are originally from Africa. For us, adult-only housing is a foreign concept. It does not exist in our home country. Adult-only policies go against our culture. Similarly, it is not something that a landlord would ever be allowed to introduce in Ontario, or as we had assumed, in other parts of a developed country such as Canada. Sadly, we were mistaken in this.
My husband and I believe that discrimination against minors under 18 is a human rights violation. These children are our future and if we keep discriminating against them by limiting where they can live, this may have an impact on their development. I remember our newborn crying profusely in her car seat while we drove several times to our new place to move smaller boxes before the big move day. This broke my heart as she shouldn’t have had to go through this.
Ed. note: Lola’s story is disturbing. There is a lack of clarity and transparency on multiple fronts. As the Government of Alberta has acted to continue to allow ‘adults-only’ condos, this means that upon successfully giving birth, someone living in an ‘adults-only’ condo will be forced to move. Why doesn’t the government assign a standardized disclosure form? Such a form should point out to all prospective residents that during their tenancy, they must be willing to sacrifice their reproductive freedoms under penalty of being removed. Such a waiver should be signed for any adult-only building as part of the lease prior to moving in. Similarly, for those purchasing an ‘adults-only’ condo, such a waiver should be signed prior to a deposit being taken, let alone such a condo being purchased.
Sadly, ‘adults-only’ buildings may serve to coerce young women into having unwanted abortions. Yet, when the government had the chance to end ‘adults-only’ housing at the time that it passed Bill 23, all political parties in Alberta supported the continuation of ‘adults-only’ condominiums, cooperatives and mobile home site tenancies, with no clause allowing for the grandfathering of childless couples who go on to have children. As such, the restrictions on reproductive freedoms, the potential coercion of young women into having abortions, and the actual ‘birthovictions’ of mothers, newborns and families, are all facets of policy that have the implicit blessing of all Alberta political parties. A standardized Government of Alberta disclosure form would not stop this, but it would add much-needed clarity for Albertans experiencing what should be the celebrated joy of new life. Furthermore, the introduction of such would at least better illuminate this issue.
Of course, the greater problem is the continued existence of ‘adults-only’ housing policies, which need to be brought to an end — in all forms. ‘Adults-only’ policies were phased out decades ago in the United States. They do not exist in Mexico or in much of the rest of Canada. As a province of Canada — a country with a Charter of Rights and Freedoms — we, as Albertans, need to start respecting Equality Rights for age and for family status, just as we abide by and uphold other Equality Rights.