The Racial Matter May Have to Be Factored in When Engaging in a Landlord-Tenant Commercial Agreement

racial matters related to engaging in landlord tenant commercial agreement

On September 11, 2020, in Elias Restaurant v. Keele Sheppard Plaza Inc., the Ontario Superior Court concluded that the bid to evict the tenants of a black-owned Caribbean restaurant in the shopping plaza of Keele Sheppard Plaza Inc., is a racially stereotyped and discriminatively motivated case. Whether the landlord is found to be consciously motivated or not, the court states that racial discrimination is “nevertheless real” and relates the racial bias to the case of R v Parks (1993), as he grants relief from forfeiture application to the owners of the restaurant, operating their black-owned business known as Elias Restaurant.

Bruce Bassin, who represented the property management company, as well as the landlord, made a case that in fact, the bid to eviction had rooted from other concerns, rather than being racially motivated. In the case, the landlord states that the eviction was based purely on the flow of the entire Plaza, as certain characteristics of the restaurant stood out in an unwanted way. The landlord’s concerns include the non-family friendly manner that Elias Restaurant was operating, such as serving liquor and allowing smokers to stay on the premises of the rented unit. In the case, however, the court reveals that the conservative and hateful mindset of criticizing these normalized behaviors and aspects, which are directly related to the mannerisms of a minority group, appear to be linked to the concerns for racial stereotyping.

Similar to the case of R.v. Parks (1993), the court adds that “The testimony of the Landlord and his contractor as to the ‘unattractive’ nature of the Tenant’s clientele to other users of the Plaza bears close resemblance to these longtime, well-known biases.” In all, with many factors that lead the court to side with Elias Restaurant, inspired by issue raised to the surface by “The Black Lives Matter” movement, the court has found that the commercial company engaged in discrimination in the bid to evict the tenants at the Landlord’s shopping plaza.

This case shows that in commercial tenancy, even if a Landlord acts in good faith and lawfully in bringing the agreement to the end, he or she should consider many factors that may color his or her decision unlawful. A timely professional legal advice can help to eliminate the risk of being sued. Our office can help you with realizing your contractual right in a proper way. To book a consultation, you can email us at or call 905-370-0484.



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