Should landlords have the right to choose who lives in their apartment or house?
Apparently they don’t as a case in the news today has highlighted.
Three tenants have been awarded compensation after the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) found they had been discriminated against by their landlord who refused to facilitate their access to the Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) scheme.
The scope of the Equal Status Acts, which prohibit discrimination in the provision of goods and services, was expanded from January 2016 to prohibit discrimination in the provision of accommodation based on a person’s eligibility for housing assistance.
This includes rent allowance or the Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) or any payment under the social welfare acts.
To date there had been no determination by the WRC as to whether the new ground extended protection to existing tenants who become entitled to social housing support during the course of their tenancy.
Three almost identical cases were brought against the same landlord to the WRC and heard together. They were awarded compensation ranging from €13,300 to €15,000.
The decision of the WRC clarifies that the protection from discrimination extends to not only prospective tenants but also existing tenants
Essentially what happened here is that the tenants were already living in the accommodation and for whatever reason became dependant on social welfare.
The landlord clearly didn’t want somebody on welfare and decided that he/she wasn’t accepting the HAP scheme.
The HAP scheme is paid directly to the landlord from the state so I can’t understand why the landlord would have an issue but clearly he/she did.
I don’t want to talk about this particular case – but I do want to talk about the rights of a landlord.
Should a landlord have the right to refuse someone in receipt of rent allowance or HAP if they want? Or is it discrimination plain and simple?
I remember when the news of the legislation came out Vincent McNamara of the Residential Landlords Association denied claims that property owners discriminate against those on state benefits. However he did go on to say that:
“Landlords don’t refuse people because they’re on rent supplement but they want people who have a track record of paying on time and being compliant.
“While most tenants on rent supplement do observe the rules, the majority of non-compliant tenants happen to be on rent supplement. That’s where the problem arises.”
So there obviously is a stigma there. It might not be right tar everyone receiving rent allowance with the same brush, but, surely as a homeowner you would want to choose the tenant with the least risk of causing problems.
Is that such a bad thing?
What do you think? Here’s the question- should landlords be allowed to refuse rent allowance and HAP scheme tenants?