I have an issue about accommodation - IHREC - Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission

I have an issue about accommodation

The Equal Status Acts 2000-2018 (ESA) make it unlawful to discriminate in the disposal of premises and the provision of accommodation on any of the nine grounds.

In addition, providers of accommodation services are prohibited for discriminating against someone on the ‘housing assistance ground’, i.e. on the grounds that they are in receipt of –

  • rent supplement
  • housing assistance payments
  • other social welfare payments.

The housing assistance ground protects anyone who has applied for and is eligible to receive such payments, and applies both to existing tenants and to those who are looking for accommodation.

Discrimination on the housing assistance ground, or on any of the nine grounds, may also take the form of landlords or letting agents –

  • refusing to let you look at the property
  • refusing to rent the property to you
  • refusing to accept rent supplement or housing assistance payments
  • refusing to complete the necessary forms to enable you to receive rent supplement or housing assistance payments
  • including discriminatory terms or conditions in leases or other tenancy agreements, whether written down or spoken
  • refusing to renew your lease or other tenancy agreement
  • end your lease or other tenancy agreement
  • withdrawing services related to property, or making it very hard for you to get these services.

It is unlawful to publish or display an advertisement that indicates an intention to discriminate on any of the discriminatory grounds, including the housing assistance ground. For example, advertisements that contain any of the  following phrases may indicate an intention to discriminate on the housing assistance ground –

  • ‘rent allowance/housing assistance payments not accepted’;
  • ‘professionals only’;
  • ’would suit professionals’;
  • ‘work/professional references required’.

If you see a discriminatory advertisement you can let us know by filling out this form.

However, there are some situations in which the ESA allow people to be treated differently in accommodation services.

These are called exemptions.  Some of these exemptions apply to all the main grounds covered by the ESA, while others are more specific.

All grounds:

Anyone can be treated differently in relation to:

  • A person’s home: If the accommodation is in a private home, the lodger is not covered by the ESA. For example, if the home-owner found that having a lodger was disrupting their family life, they could ask the lodger to leave.
  • Accommodation for a particular 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.

Other exemptions:

  • 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 authoritiescan treat people differently in relation to:
    • family size
    • family status
    • civil status
    • disability
    • age
    • membership of the Traveller community.

In addition, while providers of accommodation services are prohibited from discriminating on the grounds that a person is in receipt of rent supplement, housing assistance, or social welfare payments (‘the housing assistance ground’), the person providing accommodation can require that the rent supplement is paid directly to them.

It is not discriminatory for a landlord or other person to refuse to let you rent a property if you cannot afford the market rent.  If you think the landlord is being unfair in setting or reviewing rent, or you have a dispute with your landlord, you can contact the Residential Tenancies Board.

Do you think that you have been discriminated against, or are being discriminated against in relation to accommodation?