Taking action about discrimination in housing
If you’ve experienced discrimination when buying or renting a property - for example, by a landlord or estate agent, there are different things you can do. You could try talking to the person who discriminated against you or you can make a discrimination claim in court.
Read this page to find out more about what you can do if you’ve experienced discrimination when renting or buying a property.
Before you take action about unlawful discrimination
When deciding what action to take about discrimination, you'll need to think about what you're trying to achieve. You will also need to think about how quickly you need to get a result.
You may want:
- the discrimination against you to stop
- an apology
- the landlord or estate agent to look again at a decision they've already taken
- a change in their policy
- staff training in discrimination issues
- money for financial losses or compensation - for example, for stress or injury to feelings.
It’s often best to try to resolve your problem informally first. It may stop the problem getting worse and avoid the expense of taking legal action. You should, however, be aware that there are strict time limits for taking legal action. It’s therefore best to act as early as possible.
Check whether discrimination has happened
The law which says you mustn’t be discriminated against is called the Equality Act 2010. If you want to take action about discrimination, you need to be reasonably sure that discrimination has taken place according to the Act.
If the treatment doesn’t count as discrimination under the law, you may still have been treated badly or unfairly and you may be able to do something about that. For example, you may still be able to make a complaint about the way you were treated.
What’s your housing status?
If you’re a tenant, you need to be aware there’s a risk you might lose your home if you take action against your landlord as they might try to evict you. It’s therefore important to check your housing status as some tenancies offer more protection than others against eviction. If you’re renting from a local authority or housing association you generally have more protection from eviction than if you’re renting from a private landlord.
If you’re unsure about your housing status and want to take action, you should get advice from an experienced adviser, for example at a Citizens Advice Bureau.
- More about housing status if you're a private rented tenant
- More about housing status if you're a social housing tenant
What can you do if you’ve been discriminated against?
Make a complaint
You can make an informal complaint first to the person or organisation who's discriminated against you.
If the problem isn’t resolved informally, you can make a formal complaint. If the person or organisation has their own complaints procedure you should follow this. After this you can contact other organisations who can look at your complaint.
Alternative Dispute Resolution
Alternative dispute resolution (ADR) includes things like mediation, conciliation or arbitration. This is where people on different sides of a dispute use an independent professional, called a mediator, conciliator or arbitrator, to help them find a solution to a problem.
You can contact the Equality Advisory Support Service (EASS) who can help you find a mediator.
Take legal action
You can take court action directly or after trying to resolve your problem in other ways first. But remember, there are strict time limits for making a court claim.
If you want to take court action, you can make a discrimination claim in the civil courts against the person or organisation who discriminated against you.
If you’ve been discriminated against by a local authority or housing association, you may also have other legal claims.
- public sector equality duty claim
- human rights claim
- public law claim.
If you’re thinking about taking court action, you should get advice from an experienced adviser - for example, at a Citizens Advice Bureau.
Reporting the landlord or estate agent to the Equality and Human Rights Commission
In some situations, the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) may be able to help with your discrimination complaint. They don’t normally take on individual cases. However, they can do so if it would be of wider public interest and it's referred to them by an advice agency. They could also launch an official inquiry and formal investigation if the problem seems to be widespread.
How can you find information to support your claim or complaint?
You can ask for information about your treatment from the person you think has discriminated against you. It can help you understand why you were treated in a certain way. If you decide to make a complaint or go to court, you can use this information to support your discrimination claim or complaint.
Freedom of information request
You can make a Freedom of Information request to the organisation who discriminated against you if they’re a public authority like a local authority. You can ask the organisation for any information you think they may hold. But some information may not be given to you because the law says it shouldn’t be given to the public.
- Complaining about discrimination in housing
- Taking legal action about discrimination in housing
- Taking action against a public authority about discrimination in housing
- Before you take action about discrimination
Other useful information
- You can search for a mediator at www.scottishmediation.org.uk
Freedom of Information request
- For information about how to make a Freedom of Information request www.itspublicknowledge.info
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.