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Discrimination in housing - what's the unfair treatment when you're living in a property?

This advice applies to Wales

If you’ve been treated unfairly when you’re living in a property and it’s because of who you are, you may have been discriminated against.

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

Read this page to find out more about what unfair treatment is unlawful discrimination when you’re living in a property.

Top tips

If you want to know if unlawful discrimination has taken place you need to check:

  • why you are being treated unfairly
  • who is treating you unfairly
  • what's the unfair treatment
  • how is the treatment unfair or what type of discrimination it is.

What unfair treatment can be unlawful discrimination under the Equality Act?

Only certain types of behaviour by someone who manages premises can be unlawful discrimination under the Equality Act.

What’s meant by someone who manages premises?

A manager of premises is the person or organisation who owns or looks after your property. This can be a private or social landlord like a housing association. It can also be - for example, a property management agency or tenant management association.

What kind of behaviour can be unlawful discrimination?

The Equality Act says the following things can be unlawful discrimination by a manager of premises if it's because of who you are:

  • not allowing you to use certain facilities or benefits - for example, a communal garden, or imposing conditions or restrictions on your use of these things
  • evicting you or taking steps to evict you
  • causing you harm or disadvantage - the Equality Act calls this a detriment
  • behaving in a way which causes you distress or offends or intimidates you - the Equality Act calls this harassment
  • punishing you because you complain about discrimination, or help someone else complain - the Equality Act calls this victimisation.

Why are you treated unfairly?

Remember, it’s only unlawful discrimination if you’re treated unfairly because of:

  • disability
  • gender reassignment
  • marriage and civil partnership
  • pregnancy and maternity
  • race
  • religion or belief
  • sex
  • sexual orientation.

The Equality Act calls these things protected characteristics.

Examples of unlawful discrimination

Here are some examples of when a manager of premises mustn’t discriminate against you.

Not allowing you to use certain facilities or benefits or imposing conditions or restrictions on your use

A manager of premises can’t stop you from using certain facilities or benefits or impose conditions on your use of these things because of a protected characteristic.

Example

You’re having a sex change. Because of this, your landlord has said you can’t use the communal garden any more. This is unlawful discrimination because of gender reassignment.

Evicting you or taking steps to evict you

A manager of premises mustn’t evict you or take steps to evict you because of a protected characteristic.

Example

You’ve recently been diagnosed with HIV. Your landlord gives you notice to leave your house, even though you’ve not done anything wrong under your tenancy agreement. If the landlord’s given you notice because of your condition, it’s unlawful discrimination because of your disability.

Causing you harm or disadvantage

A manager of premises mustn’t do something which causes you harm or disadvantage. If it’s because of a protected characteristic, it’s unlawful discrimination.

Example

A property management agency is taking longer to deal with your maintenance requests than other tenants, because you’re Black. This is unlawful discrimination because of your race.

Harrassing you

A manager of premises mustn’t behave in a way which intimidates you or makes you feel distressed or offended. If it’s related to a protected characteristic, it’s unlawful discrimination.

Example

You have a new girlfriend who’s from Eastern Europe. She doesn’t live with you but spends time in your flat. Your landlord has started turning up at your flat unannounced. He’s very aggressive and verbally abusive towards you and your girlfriend. He makes racist comments and has told you he doesn’t want any foreigners in his flat.

This could be harassment related to race. Harassment is unlawful under the Equality Act and you can do something about it.

Victimising you

A manager of premises mustn't punish you if you complain about unlawful discrimination or because you help someone who has been discriminated against.

Example

You recently complained about discrimination to your housing association. They've now delayed making essential repairs to your flat. You think this is because of your complaint. If this is the case it could be victimisation and is unlawful under the Equality Act.

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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