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Discrimination in housing because of something connected to your disability

This advice applies to England

If you’ve been treated unfairly by someone like a landlord or estate agent when renting or buying a property and it's because of something connected to your disability, you may have been discriminated against.

The Equality Act 2010 calls this discrimination arising from disability. If you’ve been discriminated against, you may be able to do something about it.

Read this page to find out more about discrimination arising from disability in housing.

What’s meant by discrimination arising from disability?

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.

Discrimination arising from disability is when you’re treated unfairly because of something connected to your disability rather than the disability itself. You don’t have to show you’ve been treated differently than someone else. All you need to show is that you've been treated unfavourably. This means that you've suffered a disadvantage.

Examples of things connected to your disability

Here are examples of things connected to your disability:

  • need for an assistance dog
  • behavioural issues
  • speech or movement difficulties
  • difficulty using a computer
  • the need to use a wheelchair or other special equipment.

Example

You’re homeless and you’ve applied for emergency housing from your local authority. You have Tourette’s syndrome which means you swear a lot. A note of this is on your file. However, when you come in for your interview the local authority officer refuses to interview you because of your swearing.

The refusal to interview you could be discrimination because of something connected to your disability.

When might it not be unlawful discrimination?

Justifying discrimination

If you make a complaint about discrimination because of something connected to your disability, the person discriminating against you - for example, a landlord or estate agent, might be able to justify it. They would have to show they have a good enough reason for discriminating against you.

Health and safety could be a good enough reason for discriminating against you. But only if there’s a real health and safety concern and it’s necessary to discriminate against you to ensure your or someone else’s health and safety.

What if the landlord or estate agent doesn't know you’re disabled?

For discrimination because of something connected to your disability to be unlawful, the person discriminating against you - for example, a landlord or estate agent, must know you have a disability.

In some circumstances, it will be obvious you have a disability. For example, if you use a wheelchair.

In other situations, it may not be so obvious that you’re disabled, so the landlord or estate agent can’t be accused of discriminating against you because of something connected to your disability. But if you point it out to them and they still don’t stop discriminating against you, this would be unlawful.

Selling or letting a property privately

There are some situations where it’s not unlawful discrimination to refuse to let or sell you a property because of something connected to your disability.

This is where someone sells or lets a property privately without using an estate agent or advertising it. There is also an exception when someone lets out part of a property where they live.

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)

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