A claim for discrimination under the Equality Act can be brought in the County Court against housing associations.
A housing association is classed as a service provider for the purposes of the Equality Act 2010, as they offer, goods, facilities and services to the public.
An individual is protected from unlawful discrimination under the terms of the Equality Act 2010 if it can be proven that they have been subjected to unequal treatment due to their age, race, gender, marital status, sexual orientation, disability, gender reassignment, religious beliefs, pregnancy or maternity
Claims of discrimination can therefore be brought against Housing associations by individual tenants and/or potential tenants.
What constitutes discrimination by a housing association?
Housing associations are generally strict in their implementation of banding criteria, which provides for the accommodation of tenants in order of their priority needs. However, the banding criteria should be applied flexibly in certain circumstances, for example where a person with a disability would be placed at a disadvantage by it’s strict implementation. If the housing association does not employ any flexibility, the individual could be put at a disadvantage where the incorrect allocation of banding based on the housing association’s opinion of the individual’s needs could prevent them from bidding on properties to suit their actual needs due to their disability.
Further, claims can be brought against housing associations if they fail to provide adequate support and assistance to tenants or potential tenants who may require it due a disability. Support and assistance required can be communication in an alternative method to written letter or emails due to sight or learning impairment or assistance with the bidding process due to a learning difficulty.
Local authorities in their capacity as landlords are under a duty to make reasonable adjustments to their properties for tenants who suffer from disabilities, to enable them to enjoy their home. Such adjustments must be considered reasonable. In determining what is reasonable, all circumstances of the case and the adjustments proposed by a tenant would be taken into account by a court.
What should you do?
If you feel that you have been discriminated against by a housing association you should immediately raise a complaint.
You may also be able to bring a claim in the County Court for unlawful discrimination under the provisions of the Equality Act 2010. Please be aware that strict time limits apply to claims of this nature, and you only have six months less one day from the discriminatory act to bring a claim in the County Court. It is therefore imperative that you seek legal advice without delay.
If you need further advice regarding discrimination law, please contact our team on 01616 966 229.