A two-year lottery funded project called Open Doors has produced two free guides for tenants aimed at reducing discrimination and mistreatment in the private rented sector.
The Open Doors guides are called ‘Common issues and how to overcome them’ and ‘Challenging Discrimination’. Whilst the guides are targeted towards tenants, they will also provide landlords with an overview of what is and is not acceptable in the private rental sector.
Below is a summary of the guide ‘Common issues and how to overcome them.’
- Common issues for LGBT+ people
Hate crime and incidents are a common issue for the LGBT community. Those experiencing hate crime because of a person’s transgender identity should be reported to the police. Tenants should also consider discussing the matter with their landlord or local authority who may also be in a position to assist.
- Common issues for disabled people
To ensure disabled people do not face barriers when living in a private rental property, landlords and agents are under a positive obligation to make reasonable adjustments under the Equality Act.
- Common issues for people with mental health problems
Poor property maintenance may have an impact on a tenant’s mental health. However, disrepair matters should be addressed by the landlord or agent and help can be provided for tenants who are struggling with this. Furthermore, in some instances it can be beneficial to advise landlords or agents about a mental health problem especially where hospitalisation is likely. It is unlawful for landlords or agents to treat tenants unfairly because of their mental health problems.
- Common issues for people claiming benefits
The majority of single parents on benefits are women. This means that a ban on tenants claiming benefits will have a worse effect on women than men which may be indirect sex discrimination.
- Common issues for Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic groups (BAME)
Landlords or agents creating a hostile environment because of your race are harassing you which is unlawful. There is then advice on what tenants should do if they move into an overcrowded or disrepair property.
The guide offers tenants with practical advice based on some specific situations and at the end of each section there is a list of useful organisations which may offer advice and assistance.
The guide ‘Challenging Discrimination’ is again targeted at private rental tenants in wales. However, this is largely a summary of the laws that protect tenants such as the Equality Act and Renting Homes (Wales) Act 2016. There is also again practical advice including updates on upcoming legislation and where to go if help is needed.
The guides are a useful summary for both landlords and agents on what they should and should not do when renting out a property. Discrimination amongst certain tenant groups has been highlighted previously and no doubt these guides have been produced as a reaction to the negative experiences of some tenants. Landlords and agents are therefore advised to consider these guides and if necessary, change their practises to ensure they are complying with the law.