The provision of private rented accommodation is considered a service under the Equal Status Acts 2000-2015.
This Act prohibits discrimination, directly or indirectly. It applies to lettings and accommodation. Landlords or those acting on their behalf such as Agents cannot discriminate against potential tenants.
Please Click HERE for the Equal Status Acts 2000-2015.
Grounds for Discrimination
There are 9 protected grounds outlined below in which you cannot discriminate:
- Civil Status
- Family status (for example being pregnant, parent of child under 18, parent or carer of person over 18 that has a disability)
- Sexual orientation
- Membership of the Traveller community
You also cannot discriminate against a tenant or potential tenant because they are getting a Housing Assistance Payment (HAP), Rent Supplement or any other social welfare payment.
It is important that you understand that it is against the law to publish an advertisement that indicates an intention to discriminate on any of the discriminatory grounds.
For example, any of the following inclusions may indicate an intention to discriminate:
- ‘rent allowance/housing assistance payments not accepted’
- ‘professionals only’
- ’would suit professionals’
- ‘work/professional references required’
- ‘Singles only’
- ‘Over 25s’
- ‘Men only’
- ‘traditional couple only’
Other forms of Discrimination:
- Refusing to let an applicant look at the property based on one of the grounds.
- Refusing to rent the property to an applicant based on one of the grounds.
- Refusing to accept rent supplement or housing assistance payments.
- Refusing to complete the necessary forms to enable a tenant receive rent supplement or housing assistance payments.
- Including discriminatory terms or conditions in leases or other tenancy agreements, whether written down or spoken.
- Ending a lease or other tenancy agreement based on one of the grounds.
*It is not discriminatory for a landlord to refuse to let an applicant rent a property if an applicant cannot afford the rent.
There are exemptions. Some apply to all the main grounds covered by Act, others are more specific.
- A person’s home: If the accommodation is in a private home, the lodger is not covered by the Act.
- Accommodation for a specific kind of person: For example, the law allows some accommodation to be reserved for particular people, such as older people or homeless people.
- Wills and gifts: The person making the will or gift can choose who benefits.
- Gender in relation to shared accommodation: This applies where privacy is an issue. For example, it is not against the law to have a dormitory just for women in a youth hostel.
- Housing authorities can treat people differently in relation to:
- family size, family status, civil status, disability, age, membership of the Traveller community.
Cases to the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC)
In recent times, there has been a rise in tenants taking cases against landlords to the WRC. There are significant fines involved, some examples include:
In 2017 a letting agent was ordered to pay a single mother €3,000 having been found to have discriminated against her lone parent status in the renting of an apartment.
In August 2018, a woman who claimed that she was discriminated against because she was receiving HAP was awarded €4,200. She had claimed that when she told her landlord she was in receipt of HAP, he said he didn’t want to deal with it after having problems with such payments in the past, and she was then told to move out.
In November 2018, another woman who took her landlord to the WRC over his refusal to accept HAP was awarded €7,000.
In 2018 a landlord was ordered to pay €5000 in compensation to an applicant tenant who was discriminated against because he was a HAP applicant. You can read the Adjudication Decision by clicking HERE.
In 2019, a landlord was ordered to pay compensation of €3000 for refusing to sign a HAP form. You can read the Adjudication Decision by clicking HERE.
In 2020, A landlord was ordered to pay compensation of €4000 on the grounds his tenant was discriminated against by the landlord refusing to sign a HAP application form. You can read the Adjudication Decision by clicking HERE.
Please be aware of the links between the Equal Status Legislation & the Letting of your Property.