Positive duty requires you to take reasonable and proportionate measures to eliminate discrimination, sexual harassment and victimisation as far as possible.
Under the Equal Opportunity Act 2010, accommodation providers in Victoria have a positive duty to eliminate discrimination, sexual harassment and victimisation.
Complying with the positive duty will help you avoid potential discrimination complaints and take us a step closer to creating equal opportunity for everyone in Victoria.
Positive duty applies to everyone who already has responsibilities under the Equal Opportunity Act including landlords, tenancy database operators, and real estate agents.
- If you are a landlord, the positive duty applies because you are an accommodation provider.
- If you are a real estate agent or tenancy database provider, it applies to you both as a service provider and as an employer if you employ staff in your business.
The Commission has created a suit of free online tools to help employers understand and comply with the Equal Opportunity Act. Access the toolkits online at humanrightscommission.vic.gov.au/employerstoolkits.
The law requires you to be proactive about discrimination and prevent discriminatory practices, rather than just responding to complaints of discrimination that may occur.
The law states that the reasonable and proportionate measures needed to satisfy the positive duty will depend on the size and resources of each organisation.
Factors that must be considered include:
- the size of the business or operations the resources of the business
- the nature of the business the business and operational prioritiesthe practicability and cost of the measures in question.
For landlords who manage their properties themselves:
- Only seek relevant information from applicants.
- Don't make decisions based on protected characteristics such as race, age, sex or disability.
- Make sure your agent knows you expect them to comply with the law.
For real estate agents:
- Provide training and have written policies for your staff about the Equal Opportunity Act and unlawful discrimination.
- Review your application forms to ensure they are provided in accessible formats and do not seek irrelevant information from prospective tenants.
- Look for ways that people applying for properties may be unfairly disadvantaged in the application process and interviews and adopt practices to minimise the risk of discrimination.
- Do not accede to landlord requests to discriminate.
Rental agents and landlords have a legitimate interest in finding tenants who will not damage the property and can pay the rent. However, they can do so without engaging in unlawful discrimination or allowing irrelevant personal characteristics to influence their decisions.
Under the Equal Opportunity Act, it is unlawful to collect information that could be used to discriminate against a person, whether orally or in writing. In planning to meet the positive duty, providers of private rental accommodation should carefully consider what information they need from applicants and why. For example, you do not need to know about someone's sexual orientation or marital status to determine whether they will be able to pay the rent and maintain the property.