It’s now against the law to discriminate against tenants and prospective tenants on rent supplement, housing assistance payments, or other social welfare payments.
As of the 1st January 2016, the Equality (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2015 has introduced “housing assistance” as a new discriminatory ground. This means that people in receipt of rent supplement, housing assistance payments or other social welfare payments can no longer be discriminated against in relation to the provision of accommodation or related services or amenities. Landlords, letting agents, and property advertisers are also prohibited from publishing or displaying advertisements which indicate an intention to discriminate on the housing assistance ground.
The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission has confirmed that existing equality legislation already protects against discrimination in accommodation on the grounds of gender, civil status, family status, age, race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, and membership of the Traveller community. They say that discrimination on the housing assistance ground will include –
- Using phrases such as ‘rent supplement not accepted’, ‘professionals only’ in property advertisements;
- Refusing to allow a person to view a property;
- Refusing to let a property;
- Including a discriminatory term or condition in a lease, tenancy agreement or licence agreement, whether oral or verbal;
- Refusing to renew a lease, tenancy agreement, or licence agreement;
- Terminating a lease, tenancy agreement, or licence agreement;
- Withdrawing or restricting access to services related to accommodation;
on the basis that the person concerned is in receipt of rent supplement, housing assistance payments, or other social welfare payments.
It is not however discriminatory for a landlord to refuse to let a property solely on the grounds that the tenant cannot afford the appropriate market rent. Disputes in relation to the setting and reviewing of rent levels may be referred to the Private Residential Tenancies Board: www.prtb.ie. Those who feel that they have been discriminated against on the housing assistance ground, or any other protected ground, in relation to the provision of accommodation can make a complaint under the Equal Status Act to the Workplace Relations Commission.