Landlord law confusion after lesbian couple refused as tenants

Published: 17/05/2013

A landlord in the Isle of Man has refused to let to two tenants, Kira Izzard and Laura Cull, on the ground of their sexual orientation, according to Gay Star News.

As a result the case has started to cause confusion amongst landlords in terms of their rights when selecting tenants to rent to as well as tenants rights against discrimination.

GW LET solicitor, Rob Denman, sheds some much needed light on the subject:

“Many landlords probably feel that as it’s their own property they should be free to rent it or not rent it to whoever they please. However, while UK anti-discrimination law is not applicable in the Isle of Man where this case occurred, there is legislation in place in the UK that prevents a landlord from discriminating on the grounds of race and ethnic background, religion, sex, sexual orientation, disability and age.

Landlords and letting agents should be aware of the key laws and regulations in this area and in particular the provisions of the Equality Act 2010 (in force 1st October 2010) which brought all the then existing anti-discrimination laws into one place.

“Discrimination is illegal in housing transactions like lettings and house sales but may occur (exceptions) where someone is taking in a lodger in ‘small premises’, i.e. where the living space is shared with the landlord or a member of his/her family. This relates to discrimination on the grounds of colour, nationality (but not race or ethnic origin), sex, sexual orientation and disability. Other exceptions include shared accommodation (e.g. hostel), non-profit making single-sex clubs, and charities benefitting only one sex which can all offer accommodation to people of that one sex.

“Clearly, both landlords and tenants should seek legal advice. This is a constantly evolving area of law. Landlords need to ensure they don’t flout the law and tenants need to know what to do if they become the victims of discrimination.”

Discrimination is when someone is treated less favourably than other people because of, for example, race, nationality, gender, disability, belief or social status.

Content correct at time of publication

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