Housing and the Equality Act 2010
The provision of housing is now covered by the Equality Act 2010.
Stonewall fought hard for legal protection, first introduced in 2007, which protect lesbian, gay and bisexual people from discrimination when accessing goods and services. This could affect housing provision in two ways.
Local Authority Housing
It is unlawful for public authorities to discriminate when providing public services. This covers the work of local authorities, including their provision of housing services.
This could include:
- Equal access to housing services for lesbian, gay and bisexual people
- Not taking action to help a lesbian or gay tenant who is experiencing homophobic abuse or harassment from other tenants.
- Staff should treat lesbian, gay or bisexual users as courteously and professionally as they do other users, whatever their own personal views.
- Planners of services will need to take steps to ensure that lesbian, gay or bisexual people have fair access to the services which they need.
Renting and selling property
The law prohibits discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation when "disposing of premises", for example when selling or renting property. This could cover:
- Refusing to sell or rent the premises to someone because they are gay
- Offering a different price or terms to someone because of their sexual orientation
- Discriminating against people on a list of those requiring housing: for example by giving priority to people of a certain sexual orientation, or deliberately overlooking those of a certain sexual orientation.
It is also unlawful for the manager of a property, such as a landlord, to discriminate against a tenant or someone associated with them on the grounds of their sexual orientation. This could cover all aspects of a landlord's responsibilities, such as upkeep of the facilities or eviction.
What to do if you have experienced discrimination:
If you think that you have been discriminated against by a housing provider and that it is due to your sexual orientation, then this could possibly be unlawful under the Equality Act 2010, depending on the individual circumstances.
- Try to resolve the matter with the organisation or your local authority directly. Contact them in person or write a formal letter of complaint.
- Talk to your local Citizen's Advice Bureau about your individual housing situation and find out what you can do.
- Get some legal advice- see our What's in my Area database for gay-run and gay-friendly solicitors firms.
- Contact Stonewalls Info Service on 08000 50 20 20 for further details.