Landlords That Discriminate Against Tenants

Equal RightsI had it all planned out in my head that I was going to write a blog post about ‘Ending Tenancy Agreements’- it was supposed to be one of those useful but mundane topics. Fortunately, I got distracted by a thread on the landlord-forum.co.uk website (link has been removed) regarding discrimination. Transsexualism in specific.

Landlord-forum.co.uk in itself is an absolute junk yard; it’s buried with spam, and the owner(s) don’t seem to give a shit. Now and then an interesting topic will appear, and if you’re quick enough, you’ll catch it before hundreds of automated spammers push it onto the second page (where no one will see it) by posting threads stuffed with links to counterfeit designer clothing. I’m actually amazed that the 2-3 regular contributors to the forum are still “regulars” I digress.

Here is the core sections of the thread post which I found quite interesting:

I am a male to female transsexual. Currently I’m still living as male, but set a date for living full time as a woman, from 25th July [2011].

I live in a privately rented 1 bedroom flat above a shop. I realise I will need to notify my landlord of my transsexual status as I see them fairly regularly as they also run the shop.

I currently have a Periodic Assured Shorthold Tenancy as the fixed term of 6 months elapsed in December 2010.

I am a bit concerned about the possible discrimination I may face from my landlord and wondering about the best way to approach this subject.

Under the Equality Act it is against the law for them to discriminate against me because of gender identity, but just because it is against the law to do so, it would also be difficult to prove if they should give another reason for evicting me.

I wouldn’t be so concerned about this under most circumstances, but I have a quite good deal when it comes to rent, I live in an area I like and feel safe in, and also wouldn’t want to move to a different area and have to find a new GP who may not be so understanding of my situation.

I’m wondering if anyone on here has any experience of dealing with Transsexual tenant’s and if so, what would be the best way to approach this topic with my landlord? Should I try insist on a new tenancy for a fixed term before telling them to ensure I wont be evicted at least in the next few months? Also I’m wondering if anyone knows of any leaflets and things that would be useful to give to my landlord?

I’d really appreciate it if anyone could offer some advice!

Thanks,
Sarah

Unless the landlord has a mental capacity of a domestic turkey, I honestly can’t see a problem with the tenant’s lifestyle as long as she’s been a good tenant in the past, so she really shouldn’t be so negative off the mark. Have more faith.

In any case, I’m pretty sure most landlords would put money before their discriminatory opinions. For example, even if the landlord does ordinarily discriminate against a particular race down the pub with his mates, I’m confident he would still happily accept money from someone of that decent. It’s amazing how diverse and mixed-up morals can be, especially when money is involved.

I actually have strong feelings towards issues like this. I don’t give a shit about skin colour, gender or sexuality. People can live how they choose to live as long as they’re not harming others around them.

We’re all people of the world.

I can’t tolerate narrow-minded mentalities, nor can I tolerate those people that think they’re open to issues like homosexuality when they’re actually not. You know, they’re the dribbling fools that say, “They can do what they want behind closed doors, as long as they don’t try anything funny with me. Otherwise they’ll have a problem on their hands”

People like that are just half evolved homophobics. Homophobics nonetheless. I don’t expect anyone to hide their sexuality or gender behind closed doors. Moreover, I’m heterosexual, but if a homosexual tried chatting me up (it’s happened on occasions), I’d take it as a compliment, and I certainly wouldn’t flinch if they got close or touched my shoulders. I’ve seen so many guys get edgy around homosexuals because they automatically assume they want dick-to-arse action. It’s actually embarrassing more than anything else. Once again, I digress.

As long as my tenants treat my property with care, pay rent on time, and respect their neighbours, nothing else really matters to me. For all I care, my tenant can have anal sex with his boyfriend on every square inch of the property as long as he sterilizes every square inch after. Mind you, that goes for heterosexual couples, too. Just clean up after your shit, that’s all I ask.

The Equality Act 2010

Just to highlight the point of the Equality Act 2010, it states that the following characteristics are protected characteristics:

  • Age
  • Disability
  • Gender reassignment
  • Marriage and civil partnership
  • Pregnancy and maternity
  • Race
  • Religion or belief
  • Sex
  • Sexual orientation

It is illegal for landlord to discriminate against anyone based on those characteristics. That includes:

  • A landlord renting a property to a tenant with worse terms than other tenants
  • A landlord treating a particular tenant differently than others in regards to usage of facilities such as a laundry or a garden
  • A landlord evicting or harassing a tenant because of discrimination
  • A landlord refusing to make reasonable changes to a term in the tenancy agreement which would allow a disabled person to live there.

Do you discriminate against tenants?

I’m under no illusion. I’m very well aware that there are landlords out there that consciously discriminate against certain tenants based on the characteristics listed above.

Feel free to anonymously/openly confess if you’re one of those landlords that discriminate, or if you’d had any experience with landlords discriminating (I really hope this doesn’t turn into a topic revolving around DSS Tenants – that would bloody suck!).

If you’re a landlord that discriminates, I’d be interested to know what you discriminate against and why. I’d also be interested to know if any letting agents have had experiences with landlords that have made it clear that they didn’t want a particular type of tenant. I’m sure it happens.

Do you feel discriminated against?

If you feel you’re being discriminated against in any shape or form, I would advice connecting with the Equality and Human Rights Commission– they can advise you about whether you have been discriminated against, and what you can do about it.

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12 Comments- Join The Conversation...

Guest Avatar
YesAdam 26th April, 2011 @ 22:57

Any good advice given to the tenant?
The only way to go about it is to ask the landlord to renew tenancy, or carry on in periodic tenancy.
If the tenant predicts discrimination I guess they could use covert recording as evidence gathering.

In the event of Landlord discriminating against them, theirs always evidence gathering after the fact such as a friend seeing if property is still available for monies/terms that the current tenant offered.

As you say as long as its a good tenant, could not care about race, gender or sexual orientation, just pay on time please.

1
The Landlord Avatar
The Landlord 27th April, 2011 @ 07:12

Hey YesAdam,

Nah, no real advise given to the tenant. The actual forum is dead (minus the spammers).

Yeah, I agree, all she can do is ask to do is renew the tenancy. And in the event of suspected discrimination, find out whether the property goes back on the market under the same conditions.

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Guest Avatar
Dan Harrison 27th April, 2011 @ 08:00

The tenant seems to be assuming that the Landlord is likely to be discriminatory. With that mindset, there's more likelihood the Landlord will pick up on that vibe.

Alternatively, going with the mindset that's it's no problem at all, and that the Landlord will be understanding, will likely help.

A friend recently told me that they were going to change gender, and I particularly appreciated that they explained this before their actual transition. I was able to ask questions (as I had never knowingly encountered someone who was transgender before), which helped me to understand them much better.

I think that just jumping from one gender to the other would have been a massive shock, and more likely to provoke a negative reaction.

So my suggestion? Be open and honest, and take things from the perspective that everything is ok. IF (and only if) it goes wrong, then deal with it. But delay any negative frame of mind unless it's needed.

Dan

3
The Landlord Avatar
The Landlord 27th April, 2011 @ 08:07

Well said, Dan. 100% agree with you.

A lot of the times the problem is only in the individual's head. Worrying unnecessarily can often cause most of the problems.

4
Guest Avatar
Ryan 27th April, 2011 @ 08:27

I can't see how it would be a problem for a landlord.
I would like to see how the law would view it, she would need a new tenancy agreement under her new name (going from something like John to Sarah) but would it be seen as a different person because it's not just a name change?

5
The Landlord Avatar
The Landlord 27th April, 2011 @ 08:34

Hey Ryan,

It's not clear if she's legally changed her name to "Sarah" - she never mentioned that. Sarah could just be her stage name. In that case she would still legally be John, for example.

I'm assuming that if she legally changes her name, the contracts would need to be renewed/updated.

6
Guest Avatar
Tanya-Jayne Park 27th April, 2011 @ 09:14

As someone who is transgendered myself (Male to Female) your article is very interesting.

I've found that the fear of peoples reactions to my gender change is a lot worse than what actually transpired.

I've had a tremendous amount of understanding from all that know me and I do feel that this is very much due to my approach of being open and honest with people about my gender change.

Tanya

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Guest Avatar
immy 28th April, 2011 @ 15:36

Can't completely agree with you today. The landlord owns the property and therefore should be able to discriminate in any way he likes. If he wants to forego his money to indulge his prejudices then that's his lookout. I operate a letting agency in a 'diverse' area and I have Sikh landlords that will not allow Muslim tenants and vice-versa, African landlords that won't let to other Africans or even blacks at all, Jamaicans that won't let to Africans, African tenants that don't want African landlords, you name it. I'm happy for all of em, as long as I get paid. :-)

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The Landlord Avatar
The Landlord 29th April, 2011 @ 11:21

Hey Immy,

I get what you're saying, and I agree, a landlord should be able to rent their property out to whomever they please.

However, I don't agree with discriminating against religion, gender or skin colour on any level.

It's interesting that you get so many requests from Landlords like that. Thanks for sharing.

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Guest Avatar
immy 29th April, 2011 @ 12:01

Hi Landlord,

There are not that many at any one time - this is over a number of years in the business. The one thing I have never had is any 'anti gay' discrimination. It's all been racial or religious, especially religious amongst older Sikhs and Muslims.

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Guest Avatar
Fredo 2nd May, 2011 @ 08:23

If she officially changes her name, I don't see that there is any need to change the contract. My logic goes, if getting out of a contract was as easy as changing your name, contracts would be useless so surely the contract must continue whatever you're called.

That said the landlord should be notified in writing if bank & contact details need to be updated.

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Guest Avatar
Katy Smith 11th May, 2011 @ 14:50

Hi, I wonder if anyone has advice for me.

I live with my partner and our close friend. My partner & I share a bedroom, our friend has her own. We have to move as our Landlord is looking to move back into his flat, and we found a new property we really really liked.

We applied to visit, and the lettings agents firstly told us that we couldn't look round because the landlord wouldn't allow an unmarried couple to stay in one room together.

I was gobsmacked to be told that in this day and age. Is this legal??

Thanks, Katy

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