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Understanding and Complying with the Equality Act 2010 as a Landlord

A pair of pale-skinned hands cupping a pair of brown hands

The Equality Act 2010 is a crucial piece of legislation that aims to protect individuals from discrimination in various areas of life, including the private rental sector. For landlords, understanding and adhering to this act is not just about legal compliance but also about creating an inclusive and fair environment for your tenants.

 

Recently, the Ethnic Youth Support Team Wales ran cultural awareness workshops for landlords, with property sector body Propertymark encouraging landlords to attend. Tim Thomas, Policy and Campaigns Officer at Propertymark, said “I feel like these sessions would be a fantastic opportunity for Propertymark members to understand their legal duties in greater detail so that they can, most importantly, deliver for their tenants.”

 

This article provides a detailed look at what the Equality Act entails for landlords and how you can ensure you comply with its provisions.


Responsibilities Under the Equality Act 2010


The Equality Act consolidates previous anti-discrimination laws into one comprehensive framework. It defines a set of protected characteristics for which it is illegal to discriminate against – age, disability, gender reassignment, being married or in a civil partnership, being pregnant or on maternity leave, race, religion or belief, sex and sexual orientation.

 

The protections extend to work, education, being a consumer, using public services, within private clubs and associations as well as in the property sector.

 

Under the act, landlords are prohibited from discriminating against tenants or potential tenants based on the protected characteristics. This includes all aspects of the rental process, from property listings to evictions.


Key Areas of Compliance


●       Advertising: Ensure that property adverts do not discriminate. For instance, saying "no children" could be seen as indirect discrimination unless there are valid reasons that you can objectively justify.


●       Tenant Selection: Selection criteria should be fair and applied equally to all applicants. You should not allow personal characteristics to influence your decisions, but rather rate them solely on the applicant's suitability as a tenant.


●       Property Accessibility: Make reasonable adjustments for disabled tenants. This could mean modifying the physical features of a property or providing additional services such as allowing for a sign language interpreter when discussing the tenancy agreement.


●       Handling Complaints: Establish a clear, accessible procedure for handling complaints related to discrimination, ensuring tenants know how they can report issues.

 

Ensuring Compliance: Practical Steps for Landlords


Education and Training

One of the first steps in compliance is understanding the obligations under the act. Undertake training or guidance on the Equality Act to ensure you are familiar with its requirements and implications.


Review Practices and Policies

Regularly review your rental practices and policies to ensure they are in line with the Equality Act. This includes reassessing how you advertise properties, manage tenant applications and interact with tenants.


Use Standardised Processes

To avoid discrimination, use a standardised process for tenant applications, including a set list of criteria that focuses on an applicant's ability to maintain a tenancy agreement. Consider elements such as references and financial stability, rather than any protected characteristics.


Adjustments for Disabled Tenants

Be proactive in making reasonable adjustments for disabled tenants. This doesn't just mean physical adjustments to the property but also considering other adjustments like communication methods or procedures that ensure equal access to the services provided by the tenancy.


Seek Professional Advice

If you are unsure about any practices or potential changes, seek advice from legal professionals or organisations that specialise in discrimination law. They can provide tailored advice and help you avoid unintentional breaches of the act.


Document Your Actions and Decisions

Keep thorough documentation of all decisions related to tenancies, including reasons for rejecting applications or any adjustments made for accessibility. This documentation can be crucial in the event of a discrimination claim.

 

Get Help With Tenancies

 

Compliance with the Equality Act 2010 is not just about avoiding legal repercussions; it's about actively contributing to a fair, equal, and diverse society. By taking the steps outlined above, you can not only meet the legal requirements but also offer a welcoming and inclusive environment for all potential and current tenants. But it is another set of tasks to add to your inbox. Take the pressure off my outsourcing your property management to Executive Property Management Solutions. Call 0208 5757630 to find out more.

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