Discrimination in housing - taking your complaint further
If you’ve experienced unlawful discrimination when renting, buying or living in a property, there are different things you can do. For example, you can complain to the person or organisation who discriminated against you. If your problem hasn’t been resolved, you can contact other organisations who may be able to look at your complaint.
Read this page to find out who you can contact if your problem hasn’t been resolved after complaining about discrimination to your landlord or estate agent.
Complaining about a local authority or housing association
The Housing Ombudsman can deal with complaints about discrimination by social housing landlords like a local authority or housing association. You may be able to complain about some private landlords too if they’ve joined the scheme voluntarily.
You must first go through the local authority or housing association’s complaints procedure. If you're still unhappy when you’ve exhausted that procedure, you can refer your complaint to a designated person. A designated person can be an MP, local councillor or tenant panel.
If the designated person can’t help resolve the complaint, they can refer it to the Housing Ombudsman. In some situations you may also be able to contact the ombudsman directly.
The Housing Ombudsman will not normally deal with complaints which have gone to court or which they think are better dealt with by a court.
Complaining about an estate agent to an ombudsman
If you’ve experienced unlawful discrimination by an estate agent you may be able to take your complaint to an ombudsman. You must first go through your estate agent’s own complaints procedure. If you're still unhappy when you’ve exhausted that procedure, you can contact an ombudsman.
There are two ombudsmen which can deal with complaints about estate agents. These are:
- The Property Ombudsman
- Ombudsman Services: Property.
If you want to make a complaint, you need to find out which ombudsman your estate agent is a registered with. You can do this by asking your estate agent or search for your estate agent on the ombudsmen websites.
Complaining about a private landlord or letting agent to a member organisation
Some private landlords or estate agents may belong to a member organisation who can look at your discrimination complaint. You must first complain to the landlord or estate agent before contacting the relevant organisation.
National Landlords Association
The National Landlords Association (NLA) has a code of practice that all member landlords should follow. The code says they should respect the law, this includes the Equality Act 2010. It also says they should treat their tenants with courtesy and respect.
If you want to complain about a landlord who is a member of the NLA, the code of practice explains the complaints procedure to follow. A landlord in breach of the code could be excluded from the organisation.
National Association of Estate Agents
Estate agents who are members of the National Association of Estate Agents must comply with the Association's Rules of Conduct and a Code of Practice for Residential Estate Agency. The rules say that agents must behave in a professional way and follow the law, this includes the Equality Act.
If you have a complaint about a member of the association, you must follow their complaints procedure. You can only complain once you’ve made a complaint to the estate agent and the ombudsman they’re registered with.
An estate agent in breach of the code could be cautioned or receive a formal warning. In serious cases, the member could be fined, suspended or expelled from membership.
Association of Residential Letting Agents
Members of the Association of Residential Letting Agents must follow a code of practice which says they mustn’t discriminate against you.
If a member is in breach of the code, the client can complain to the Association in writing. The Association has its own complaints and disciplinary procedures. You can only complain once you’ve made a complaint to the estate agent and the ombudsman they’re registered with.
- How to use an ombudsman in England
- Complaining about discrimination in housing
- Taking legal action about discrimination in housing
- Before you take action about discrimination
Other useful information
- Housing Ombudsman at www.housing-ombudsman.org.uk
- The Property Ombudsman at www.tpos.co.uk
- Ombudsman Services: Property at www.ombudsman-services.org
- National Landlords Association at www.landlords.org.uk
- National Association of Estate Agents at www.naea.co.uk
- Association of Residential Letting Agents at www.arla.co.uk
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.