Home » Setting up a Tenancy » Unlawful Discrimination

Unlawful Discrimination

3.10 Unlawful Discrimination

There are legal obligations on landlords both in the public and private
sector as service providers and employers, to take reasonable steps to
ensure that people are not discriminated against directly or indirectly
due to their race, colour, gender or disability. The specific legislation is as

• Sex Discrimination Act 1975;
• Race Relations Act 1976;
• Disability Discrimination Act 1995;
• Equalities Act 2006.

Direct discrimination is defined as treating a person less favourably than
another on the grounds of their race, gender or disability. In some cases,
discrimination may occur where there has been a failure to comply with a
statutory duty. In relation to disability, it should be noted that the statutory
definition has been widened to include those with certain long-term
medical conditions.

Indirect discrimination consists of applying a requirement or condition
that, although applied equally to persons whether male or female, black or
white, is such that a considerably smaller proportion of a particular racial or
gender group can comply with it than others, and it cannot be shown to be

With regard to issues pertaining to disability, a similar requirement
exists that landlords do not impose criteria that could be identified as

The Equality and Human Rights Commission published a code of practice
on racial equality in housing. The code is important because it is a statutory
code, which has been approved by Parliament. This means that the courts
will take into account the code’s recommendations in legal cases. The code
is in two main parts; the first explains what landlords need to know about
discrimination; the second makes recommendations about how landlords
can avoid being discriminatory.

To find out more about discrimination and guidance on avoiding
discrimination go to: www.equalityhumanrights.com

The landlord should note that tenants should not be chosen on the basis
of race, religion, marital status, disability or sexuality. If the landlord
discriminates against any tenant on these grounds, the landlord could be
prosecuted. If the landlord is letting rooms in the landlord’s home, the
landlord may specify the sex of prospective tenants. Age discrimination
is prohibited in employment but is allowed in housing. In some cases,
housing might have to be let to those over 55 in order to comply with
planning requirements.