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What to do about discrimination from landlords or agents

It is against the law for landlords or letting agents to refuse to rent to you or treat you unfairly based on:

  • sex

  • race

  • disability

  • religion or beliefs

  • sexual orientation

  • gender reassignment

  • pregnancy or maternity

These are the legal terms in the Equality Act 2010. They are called 'protected characteristics'.

Race includes skin colour, ethnic group or background, citizenship or nationality.

Trans people are protected at any stage of transition. You do not need to have started hormones, had surgery, or have a gender recognition certificate.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission has more on the legal terms and their meaning.

The law is hard to enforce and discrimination is sometimes hard to prove.

Landlords and agents do not have to give a reason for not renting to you. An agent might refuse a viewing because they are racist or homophobic. But it could be hard to prove this is why. They might just say the property has gone.

Keep emails or messages that show what has been said. Make notes of conversations.

Check social media and online forums

Social media and forums can be a good place to:

  • get offers of viewings or rooms

  • find friendly flatmates or landlords

  • get tips and advice from other renters facing discrimination

Adverts might say things like 'POC house share', 'LGBTQ+ friendly', 'trans friendly house', 'queer household' or 'allies only'.

You could try these Facebook groups:

  • POC Housing for London

  • Homes for Queers

Find out more about LGBTQ+ friendly house shares.

Report rogue landlords and agents in London

The London Assembly website lets you:

The checker does not tell you if the landlord or agent has broken equality laws. But it does show you who to stay away from.

Get help from a renters union

It can be easier to stand up to discrimination with support from other people.

Renters unions can help challenge things like discrimination and landlord harassment.

Find a renters union in your area.

Complain to a letting agent redress scheme

All agents and property management companies must belong to one of these schemes:

  • the Property Ombudsman (TPO)

  • the Property Redress Scheme (PRS)

The agent must display which scheme they belong to in their offices and on their website.

The schemes are independent. They can look at complaints about the agent.

You have to write to the agent to complain first, and wait for a reply.

Complain to a redress scheme if the agent does not reply, or you're not happy with what they say. It takes the scheme a few months to look into the complaint.

Race discrimination and right to rent checks

Right to rent checks can lead to race discrimination.

Landlords have to check immigration status but they must not break equality laws.

For example, by treating you differently or unfairly based on:

  • race, skin colour or ethnic group

  • how long you have lived in the UK

  • your accent or English language skills

  • your nationality or where you were born

Find out more about discrimination and right to rent checks.

DSS or benefits discrimination

People on benefits are often turned down for properties they can afford.

This is sometimes called 'DSS discrimination' or benefits discrimination.

Use our guide and letter templates to challenge DSS discrimination from letting agents.

Discrimination when renting with children

'No kids' rental policies are unlawful because they indirectly discriminate against women.

Use our guide and letter templates to challenge discrimination when renting with children.

Last updated: 13 May 2024

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