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Pregnancy and maternity discrimination in housing

This advice applies to Scotland

If someone like a landlord or estate agent treats you unfairly when renting or buying a property and it's because you’re pregnant or you’ve recently given birth, you may have been unlawfully discriminated against. The Equality Act 2010 calls this pregnancy and maternity discrimination.

If you’ve experienced unlawful discrimination, you may be able to do something about it.

Read this page to find out more about pregnancy and maternity discrimination in housing.

When is it pregnancy and maternity 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.

Pregnancy and maternity discrimination is when you’re treated unfairly because you’re pregnant, breastfeeding or because you’ve recently given birth. 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.

Discrimination because you’re pregnant

It’s unlawful discrimination if someone like a landlord or estate agent treats you unfairly because you’re pregnant or you have been pregnant, when you're renting ot buying a property.

Example

Your landlord gives you notice to leave your flat when you tell him you’re pregnant. You’ve not done anything wrong under your tenancy agreement and you’ve always paid your rent on time. In fact, he just told you a few days ago that if all tenants were as good as you he would be a happy landlord.

If the reason he’s given you notice is because you’re pregnant, it’s unlawful discrimination because of your pregnancy. You’ve suffered a disadvantage because you’re being forced to leave your flat. You can take action under the Equality Act.

Discrimination because you’ve given birth

It’s also unlawful discrimination if someone like a landlord or estate agent treats you unfairly because you’ve given birth or you’re breastfeeding. You’re only protected against discrimination for 26 weeks following the day you gave birth. If you’re treated unfairly after this, you could still be protected against discrimination because of your sex.

If your baby is stillborn, you’re still protected against discrimination as long as you were pregnant for at least 24 weeks

When might it not be unlawful discrimination?

There are some situations where it’s not unlawful discrimination to refuse to let or sell you a property because you're pregnant or have recently given birth.

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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