A landlord was ordered to pay $5,000 to a former tenant after the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal in Victoria found the landlord outed the man at work.
“Mr. Li wears casual male clothing and occasionally enjoys wearing female clothing. Mr. Li discussed his sexuality with the [landlords]. He wanted to feel comfortable where he lives, and did not want to hide or be someone else. Mr. Li said that, at the time, the [landlords] knew that he was not openly gay at work,” the tribunal’s Oct. 16 decision said.
Shangzhou Li, a young gay man, lived in a suite rented by Mr. B and Mr. B’s spouse in their home. Li only lived in the suite for six months, but personal conflict between the tenant and former landlord continued with three litigations and two years.
Li sent Mr. B a photo of himself dressed in a dress and heels while the landlords were at a romantic dinner. Mr. B’s spouse was upset by the photo. Li wasn’t clear why he sent the photograph to only one of them, and why he sent it while the couple was on a date, but Li said he wasn’t interested in Mr. B sexually.
The landlords and tenant also argued over parking. the landlords alleged that Li’s parking created conflict with neighbours and at one point an unlocked gate led to a theft from their home business. In a text about the parking, Li signed off “Love you.”
When the landlords decided to put their house up for sale, they said Li became increasingly difficult about viewing his unit to prospective buyers, asking for written notice instead of by text message. Li decided to move out, he said, because the parking was becoming too much of a hassle.
On Feb. 20, 2017, Mr. B came to Li’s work and showed Li’s manager the photo. The next day, Li reported the incident to police to apply for a restraining order and peace bond. On Oct. 16, the tribunal chair Diana Juricevic’s decision found Mr. B had attempted to interfere with Li’s employment.
“Given that the photograph was of Mr. Li in a dress, that interference reasonably amounts to an adverse impact on Mr. Li on the basis of his gender identity and expression. That Mr. Li may have been a bad tenant, or had romantic feelings for his landlord, cannot form a justification for what Mr. B did,” Juricevic’s decision said.
The damage deposit for the rental was only returned after a provincial court hearing.
*Editor’s note: This article was updated to reflect an amendment to the original decision in accordance with the anonymization order issued on Nov. 30, 2018, by the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal.