Landlord race discrimination row - What does the law say?

Letting agents across London are discriminating on the basis of race.

This is according to an investigation by BBC London, in which ten separate agencies told an undercover reporter that they would refuse black tenants upon request.

The investigation caused outrage on its publication last week, but it is thought that the practice of discrimination could be widespread, particularly in areas of West London.

But what does the law say on race discrimination for landlords?

What is considered race discrimination?

A person is said to have been discriminated against on grounds of race if they are treated unfairly because of their own race or the race of someone to whom they are connected.

Race discrimination is illegal in housing, as well as in employment and training, education, the provision of goods and services, and any public authority activity.

Race discrimination covers discrimination on the grounds of an individual’s race, nationality, colour, citizenship, or ethnic or national origins.

Direct race discrimination

There are two key forms of race discrimination. The first is direct race discrimination. In these circumstances a person is given less favourable treatment because of their race, in comparison with someone else who would have been treated differently. An example of direct race discrimination would be a situation in which a person was denied the opportunity to rent a property on the basis of their race, as was highlighted in the BBC programme.

Indirect race discrimination

Indirect race discrimination is said to have occurred when a rule or practice is imposed that those of a specific race or ethnic or national group are less likely to be able to meet or adhere to. For example, indirect race discrimination might involve a letting agent or landlord refusing to let to an individual who did not speak English as their first language.

Indirect race discrimination is not considered to have occurred if the party in question can prove that the rule or practice is in place for reasons other than race, ethnicity, or nationality.

What is the takeaway point?

It is illegal to discriminate in housing provision on the basis of race, nationality, colour, citizenship, or ethnic or national origins.

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