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Discrimination in housing - Gypsies and Travellers

This advice applies to England

The Equality Act 2010 says private and social housing landlords, including local authorities and housing associations, mustn’t discriminate against you when you’re renting or living in a property. This includes if you’re living in a caravan or mobile home.  

Read this page to find out more about unlawful discrimination in housing if you’re a Gypsy or a Traveller.

Have you suffered unlawful discrimination?

The law which says you mustn’t be discriminated against is called the Equality Act 2010. Discrimination which is against the Equality Act is unlawful. This means you can take action in the civil courts.

If you think you’ve been discriminated against by a landlord and you want to take action about it, you should check whether the discrimination is unlawful.

Are you protected against discrimination?

Romany Gypsies and Irish Travellers are specifically protected against race discrimination under the Equality Act.

Finding local authority accommodation

Homelessness

If you’re homeless you can ask your local authority for help with housing. If you live in a caravan or mobile home, you're considered homeless if there is nowhere you are allowed to park and live in it.

Whether you meet the legal definition of being homeless is only one of five legal tests that the local authority will look at to decide if you are legally homeless.

If you’re legally homeless, the local authority must offer you suitable accommodation. If you’ve been offered conventional housing rather than a pitch or a pitch when you wanted conventional housing, you can challenge this under homelessness law. You may also be able to challenge this under the Equality Act.

For example, if you think the council hasn’t properly investigated if there’s suitable accommodation for you and it’s because you’re a Gypsy or Traveller, this could be direct race discrimination. Direct discrimination is where you’re treated differently and worse than someone else because of your race.

If you think your accommodation is unsuitable and you want to take action about it, you should get help from an experienced adviser - for example at a Citizens Advice Bureau.

Showing a local connection

When you make a homelessness application, one of the legal tests that the local authority will look at is whether you have a local connection with the area. Whether you have a local connection depends on things like how long you’ve lived there and if you have any family or work in the area. If you’ve moved around a lot, it may be difficult for you to show you have a local connection somewhere.

If a local authority refuses your housing application because you can’t show a local connection, it may be unlawful under homelessness law . It may also be indirect race discrimination. This is because it’s likely to be more difficult for Gypsies and Travellers to show a local connection than other people.

Private accommodation

Mobile home sites

If you’ve been refused a pitch on a mobile home site because you’re a Gypsy or Traveller, this is direct race discrimination. This is unlawful and you can take action under the Equality Act.  

If the manager of a mobile home site treats you worse than other people on the site because you’re a Gypsy or a Traveller - for example, if they don’t allow you to use the same facilities or charge you more rent, this is also direct race discrimination.

Settled accommodation

If you’re a Gypsy or Traveller you’re still protected against race discrimination even if you live in settled accommodation. This means a private landlord or estate agent mustn’t refuse to let you a property or treat you badly when you’re living in a property because you’re a Gypsy or Traveller. If they do this it’s likely to be unlawful discrimination.  

Adapting your home

If you’re renting a property, including a caravan, your landlord has a duty to make reasonable adjustments under the Equality Act if you’re disabled. If you need adaptations to your home, you may be able to ask your landlord to make these under their duty to make reasonable adjustments.

Harassment and eviction

If your landlord has behaved in an offensive, degrading or rude way towards you, this could be harassment related to race.

Example

The owner of the site where you’re living deliberately cuts off the water supply to the site. The reason the owner has done this is to encourage you and other Travellers who live on the site to leave. The action of the site owner could be unlawful racial harassment as it would be degrading treatment to leave people without a water supply.

If your landlord uses physical force or harasses you to make you leave this could also be illegal eviction which is a criminal offence.

Eviction because you’re a Gypsy or Traveller

If you’ve been evicted and it’s because you’re a Gypsy or Traveller this could be direct race discrimination.

Taking action

If your landlord has discriminated against you, you may be able to take action under the Equality Act.

For example, you may be able to resolve the problem by talking informally to your landlord or you can make a formal complaint. You can also take court action.

You should always check your housing status before taking action as there’s a risk your landlord might try and evict you.

Next steps

Other useful information

Equality Advisory Support Service (EASS)

If you have experienced discrimination, you can get help from the EASS discrimination helpline.

Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC)

  • You can find useful information about discrimination on the EHRC website at www.equalityhumanrights.com.

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