Landlords can no longer refuse people in receipt of rent allowance

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The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission has told landlords and accommodation advertisers of their legal responsibility to ensure that the practice is immediately stopped.

The Commission welcomes the new “housing assistance” ground in the Equal Status Acts 2000-2015 as an important legislative development.

It safeguards the rights of tenants, and of those seeking rented accommodation who are in receipt of rent supplement, housing assistance payments, or other social welfare payments.

Emily Logan, the Chief Commissioner, said the legislation is also a significant step in recognising socio economic status as a protected ground under equality law.

The Commission today published information for landlords, tenants and accommodation advertisers.

As of January 1, the Equality (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2015 introduced “housing assistance” as a new ground to protect against discrimination in accommodation.

This means that people in receipt of housing assistance, rent supplement or other social welfare payments can no longer be discriminated against in relation to the provision of accommodation.

Landlords, letting agencies, and property advertisers can no longer discriminate in advertising on this ground.

Emily Logan said:

“The Commission believes the Equality (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2015 which is not only an important legislative development to safeguard the rights of tenants, or prospective tenants, but also marks an important move towards the recognition of a socio-economic ground in equality legislation. The Commission would hope that this protection can be expanded further into other areas such as employment and the provision of goods and services, where both poverty and discrimination contribute to social exclusion in our society.”

We are concerned that landlords and accommodation advertisers may be unaware of this important change, and may be in breach of the new equality law by continuing to specify that rent supplement is not accepted for accommodation purposes.

The Commission is aware from accommodation websites and from members of the public that this practice continues and has impacted negatively on individuals and their families who require state support by excluding them from the rental market.”

The Commission will meet shortly with housing NGOs and specialist agencies on the details of the legislation and the coordination of information provision to the public.

In addition to the information published today, the Commission will be writing to landlord associations and accommodation advertisers to inform them in detail of this legal protection for those in receipt of state supports.

To download a copy of the Commission’s information note for landlords and tenants go to: http://www.ihrec.ie/download/pdf/important_changes_to_equality_law_for_rental_market.pdf

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