A N.B. single mother says she can’t find housing because she has a child

Click to play video: 'N.B. mom says she can’t find a home because she has a child'
N.B. mom says she can’t find a home because she has a child
A single mother has applied to more than 100 rental properties in Moncton without success. She says landlords stop replying as soon as she discloses that she has a six-year-old. Suzanne Lapointe has more – Mar 15, 2024

A single mother living in New Brunswick says property owners in the area have denied her rental applications because she has a child.

Melanie Centis, who lives in Moncton, said she began searching for available apartments after deciding to sell her five-bedroom home once her three adult children moved out. She said she no longer needed the space and was ready for a change.

“I just decided that selling would be an option for me now and that I’d love to rent. I figured renting would be a great option,” she said, adding that a growing amount of maintenance required on her home was beginning to stretch her budget and was another motivating factor in the move.

“It was a lot of work for me to do on my own.”

Centis said most companies requested information about her living situation before allowing her to come and view a unit. She said whenever she’d mention that she had a six-year-old child, the conversation would abruptly end.

Story continues below advertisement

“As soon as I did mention that I have a young child, I did have to explain that she is quiet,” she continued.

“I never got a response back after that.”

Centis said many rental companies have told her that tenants with children are only allowed access to units on the first floor. She said she’s applied to more than 100 rentals in the past few months and did about 10 viewings last week but still hasn’t had any luck.

Human rights issue

According to the New Brunswick Human Rights Act, family status is considered protected grounds.

“The ground of family status prevents discrimination against persons who have children,” said Alexandra Fournier with the New Brunswick Human Rights Commission (NBHRC).

“Refusing to rent property to someone because they have children could be an example of family status discrimination.”

Fournier said if a complaint is filed to the NBHRC, the provincial commission would contact the housing provider to obtain further evidence.

“If an arguable case of discrimination has been established, the Commission will refer the matter to the Labour and Employment Board to sit as a Board of Inquiry,” Fournier explained.

Story continues below advertisement

If the board determines that the building owner discriminated against the applicant, it could award financial compensation or order the owner to provide housing to the complainant.

Centis said she’s considering contacting the province regarding her ongoing struggles.

“I’ve heard that they can’t discriminate (against people) with children, but they do,” she said.

“I just feel like I’m getting nowhere. When I do mention I have a child, I don’t hear back from anybody. It’s happening with every single message.”

No rental options

Centis said she didn’t expect the rental market to be as challenging as it’s proven to be — and when her home sold in January, things became a bit more urgent.

“As I was getting close to my house sale, I wasn’t seeing much at all. So, I was getting a little bit nervous,” she said, adding that she’s been keeping an eye on the market for about a year now.

Despite being on a maximum housing budget of $1,800 a month, she said there are still “absolutely no” rental options in the area.

“I don’t make a lot of money. I work almost a minimum-wage job out here. I’m not flexible with jobs as I do raise my daughter on my own … so right now, my only option is a work-from-home job,” she said.

Story continues below advertisement

Centis said she and her young daughter are currently staying at a friend’s Airbnb location “at a reasonable rate” until she’s able to find somewhere else to live long-term.

In addition to the challenges related to renting with a young child, Centis said she’s been forced to give up her dog of 10 years because most places won’t rent to dog owners.

“She (the dog) left a week before I moved,” she said. “My six-year-old’s having a really hard time right now.”

Centis said that any locations that were deemed pet-friendly only allowed cats and were “not livable.”

“I just don’t understand why this has been so difficult for me to find a rental,” she said, adding that she has no issues with her credit after being a homeowner for the last 10 years.

Centis said she’s even considered leaving Canada if she’s unable to find a clean and affordable place to live.

“I was thinking the States. I was thinking Ireland, I have a sister out there,” she said.

“I am just getting extremely frustrated.”

Sponsored content