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Discrimination in Renting

By Emma Smith

Article from Consumer Affairs Website

When renting out a property, a landlord or owner has the right to choose the most suitable applicant. These decisions may be based on factors such as an applicant’s rental history.

However, it is against the law for a landlord or owner to stop somebody from renting a property, based on certain personal characteristics. In Victoria, it is against the law to discriminate because of actual or assumed:

• age
• carer status, family responsibilities, parental status
• disability (including physical, sensory and intellectual disability, work related injury, medical conditions, mental, psychological and learning disabilities)
• employment activity
• gender identity, lawful sexual activity, sexual orientation
• industrial activity
• marital status
• physical features
• political belief or activity
• pregnancy, breastfeeding
• race (including colour, nationality, ethnicity and ethnic origin)
• religious belief or activity
• sex
• personal association with someone who has, or is assumed to have, one of these personal characteristics.

Sexual harassment is also against the law.

If you believe a landlord or owner is discriminating against you for any of these reasons, contact the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission.

Children and renting
A landlord or agent cannot refuse to rent out premises to a person with children (that is, under the age of 16), except in certain cases. These include if the:

• property is the landlord’s main residence
• property’s location and design make it unsuitable for occupation by a child.

If a person believes a property is suitable for children after being told it is unsuitable, they may apply to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT), which will decide the matter.

No rental history
If you are looking for a home to rent but have never rented before, we recommend you provide the landlord or agent with information that can help you secure the property. For more information, view our Preparing your rental application page.
Assistance animals
Tenants who use assistance animals, such as guide dogs, cannot be discriminated against when applying for a rental property, or if they obtain an assistance animal during a lease.

An assistance animal is defined under the Equal Opportunity Act 2010 as an animal trained to perform tasks or functions that assist a person with a disability to alleviate the effects of their disability.

You can make a complaint to the Victorian Equal Opportunity & Human Rights Commission if you believe you have been:

• refused a rental property or room because of your assistance animal
• asked to remove your assistance animal from your rental property or room
• asked to vacate your rental property or room because of your assistance animal
• asked to pay an extra charge because of the assistance animal.

Pets
For information about keeping pets in a rental property, view our Pets and renting page.

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