Accommodating disabilities

An elderly man in a wheelchair with a woman crouching down beside him in the common park area of a condo.The Accessibility for Ontarians With Disabilities Act (AODA) aims to remove barriers for people with disabilities. It applies to all entities in the province with one or more employees.

The AODA requires these organizations, including landlords, to establish a minimum level of accessibility that people with disabilities can expect. These efforts include creating accessibility plans and policies; allowing access to service animals; allowing access to support persons (for any areas open to the public); and providing accessible communications.

Other legislation comes into play when accommodating people with disabilities. You can find overall accessibility requirements for buildings, including residential complexes, in Ontario’s Building Code. Newer accessibility requirements (e.g. barrier-free washrooms, automatic power door operators, visual fire alarms, etc.) apply to most new construction and extensive renovations only.

Under Ontario’s Human Rights Code, residents may make accommodation requests. If they require physical alterations to the building, landlords are required to accommodate up to the point of undue hardship (e.g. costs are prohibitive).

The Government of Ontario and the Centre for Equality Rights in Accommodation have produced a helpful guide on landlords’ obligations under the AODA.