Discrimination and renting – information for tenants

How can dis­crim­i­na­tion in accom­mo­da­tion happen?

Dis­crim­i­na­tion can hap­pen when accom­mo­da­tion providers, such as real estate agents, land­lords or ven­dors, treat you unfavourably because of a per­sonal characteristic pro­tected by the law by:

  • refus­ing to sell or rent a prop­erty to you. For exam­ple, because you have children.
  • pro­cess­ing your appli­ca­tion in a dif­fer­ent way to other appli­ca­tions for the same prop­erty. For exam­ple, because you have a disability.
  • offer­ing you a prop­erty on dif­fer­ent terms or chang­ing the orig­i­nal terms. For exam­ple, requir­ing a higher amount for the bond or requir­ing some­one to be your guar­an­tor because of your age.
  • stop­ping you from access­ing a ben­e­fit or facil­ity that is avail­able to other ten­ants. For exam­ple, because of your race or religion.
  • refus­ing to extend or renew the terms of access to the prop­erty. For exam­ple, because you are a gay couple.
  • evict­ing you. For exam­ple, because you become a sin­gle parent.

It is also against the law for accommodation providers to:

  • refuse accom­mo­da­tion because you have an assis­tance dog. The term assis­tance dog applies to a dog trained to assist you with any dis­abil­ity or impair­ment, to alle­vi­ate the effects of that impair­ment, such as a guide dog or hear­ing dog
  • require you to keep your assis­tance dog away from your accommodation
  • charge extra for an assis­tance dog.

Alter­ations to premises for peo­ple with a disability

If you have a dis­abil­ity you can make rea­son­able alter­ations to the accom­mo­da­tion to meet your spe­cial needs if:

  • you as the ten­ant pay for the alterations
  • you as the ten­ant agree to restore the accom­mo­da­tion to its pre­vi­ous state before you leave
  • the alter­ations will not alter the premises of another occu­pier. For exam­ple, a neighbour's property
  • things can be put back to the way that they were before the alterations.

In some cases, a prop­erty owner may be required to make alter­ations to premises to help accom­mo­date a per­son with dis­abil­ity, but only where this would not cause the owner 'unjus­ti­fi­able hardship'.

To deter­mine whether alter­ations would cause 'unjus­ti­fi­able hard­ship' to the prop­erty owner, all the cir­cum­stances must be con­sid­ered, includ­ing any ben­e­fit or detri­ment the adjust­ments may cause, the costs involved in mak­ing the alter­ations and the finan­cial cir­cum­stances of the owner.

Exam­ples of dis­crim­i­na­tion in accommodation

Tiffany meets with a real estate agent to look through a prop­erty she wants to rent. Tiffany has her two chil­dren with her and the agent advises that he can­not rent the prop­erty to her because her chil­dren are under five and likely to dam­age the property.

David speaks to a real estate agent on the phone about his appli­ca­tion form for a rental prop­erty. The agent has seen David's sur­name and asks about his eth­nic back­ground. David hears from the agent the next day that his appli­ca­tion was not suc­cess­ful. When David asks why, the agent says he's had prob­lems with 'peo­ple from your coun­try' in the past.

Make a complaint to the Commission

If you think you have been discriminated againstsexually harassedvictimised or vilified, contact us and talk about your concerns. Our dispute resolution service is free and confidential. We can send you information about the complaint process and if we can’t help you we will try to refer you to someone who can.

To make a complaint:

Find out more about making a complaint.

Resources

More advice and information for anyone renting a home in Victoria is available on the Consumer Affairs Victoria website.

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