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Individual rights & freedoms

Jobs, shops, flats and other areas of life where discrimination is illegal

Renting a flat

Human Rights Act 1993, s 53

It’s illegal for a landlord to discriminate against you on any of the illegal grounds by:

  • refusing to rent you a flat or house, or
  • charging you higher rent and otherwise offering you worse conditions than other people, or treating you differently in some other way, or
  • ending your tenancy agreement (for example, if they’ve learned that you and your flatmate are a same-sex couple), or
  • limiting, or trying to limit, the people who can visit you at the property.

Exceptions that allow discrimination by landlords

Human Rights Act 1993, ss 54–56

These exceptions allow discrimination by landlords, hostels and other providers of housing and accommodation:

  • Sharing with your landlord – A person who owns or rents a house can discriminate when looking for someone to share with.
  • Hostels and clubs – It’s legal for hostels and other places (like hospitals, clubs, schools, universities and retirement villages) to provide accommodation for people of the same sex, marital status, or religious or ethical belief, or for people with a particular disability, or for people in a particular age group – for example, a single-sex hostel at a high school.
  • Disability – A person with a disability can be excluded if their disability is a risk to themselves or to others (including the risk of infection), unless the risk can be reduced to a normal level without unreasonable disruption. Further, there’s no requirement to provide special services or facilities to make accommodation suitable for a person with a disability if those services or facilities can’t reasonably be provided in the circumstances. For more information, see the chapter “Disability rights”, under “Renting a flat: Access to housing and accommodation”.
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