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Tenancy discrimination - what you need to know

17 Jul 13

Whether you are a renter looking for a new place to live, or a property owner seeking tenants to occupy your investment property, it's important to read up on the rules and regulations surrounding discrimination in South Australia.

This is because both tenants and landlords have certain responsibilities and legal obligations to uphold in order to ensure everyone gets a fair opportunity.

Under the Equal Opportunity Act 1984 (SA), it is illegal for landlords to discriminate based on age, gender, disability, marital status, pregnancy, race, religion (including religious dress), sex or sexuality.

Landlords are also not allowed to discriminate based on a person's association with a child, their caring responsibilities, or based on their spouse or partner's identity.

For property owners, this means that you are not allowed to turn down a person's rental application based solely on any of the aforementioned factors, or you may be held legally liable for discrimination.

This does not mean that you have to take the first person who applies for your property. You still have a legal right to choose the best applicant from all potential tenants.

You are allowed to turn someone down based on their past rental history - such as whether or not they have been evicted - as well as if they are a smoker or a pet owner.

It is actually good practice to inform your unsuccessful applicants as to the reasons they have not been chosen for a property, so as to avoid the potential of a discrimination claim.

However renters should be aware that they have legal recourse if a landlord tells them they have been rejected for a property for discriminatory reasons. 

For example, if you apply to rent a house and are told that your application was unsuccessful due to the colour of your skin or your marital status, then you have grounds to claim discrimination. 

Want to learn more?

If you are a property hunter looking for more real estate tips and advice, consider contacting a REISA member who can provide you with expert knowledge on your legal rights.

Property managers wanting more information about real estate legislation as well as ethical and conduct standards might consider taking a specialised property management course in order to expand their skills and knowledge base. Click here to see what Property Management courses REISA offer.

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