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Tenant discrimination: Understanding your landlord obligations

11 Mar 14

If you're interested in a real estate career, one thing you need to know about is the law surrounding tenancy agreements. More specifically, the importance of selecting tenants based on their qualities and not discriminating against anyone. 

Reading up on the rules and regulations of owning investment property and operating as a landlord could help to save you from complicated legal problems. Ensuring you understand your obligations and responsibilities as a property owner is an essential part of successfully running a real estate investment.

Finding the right tenants

For example, under the Equal Opportunity Act 1984 (SA), landlords cannot discriminate against tenants based in attributes such as age, gender, disability, marital status, pregnancy, race, religion or sexuality. Furthermore, their association with children or spouses isn't allowed to be factored into the equation either. 

As a landlord, this means you're unable to turn people away based on their personality or characteristics. However, it is okay to turn people away based on their previous experiences and rental history. 

People who have been evicted from properties earlier in their lives can be turned down without worry, as well as if people are smokers or pet owners if this goes against the rules you've personally set for the property. 

By this token, telling people the specific reason why you turned them away is important. This will help to cover you from potential legal problems beginning from presumed discrimination, allowing you to avoid lawsuits and legal complications. 

Furthermore, this advice works on the other side of the fence. If you feel like you've been denied a rental property based on discrimination, then you could have grounds to claim discrimination in the eyes of the law. 

If you're after more real estate tips - regardless of whether you're a landlord or tenant - now could be the time to get in contact with an REISA member to discuss your current situation and find the right solution for you.