Rental discrimination: What landlords need to know

One of the hardest parts of being a landlord is finding the right tenants to inhabit your rental properties. However, it is important to get this process right in order to ensure a long and fruitful relationship between you and your occupants.

When screening potential tenants, you want to take into account factors such as past rental and employment history. This will give you a better idea as to whether or not the tenant will be able to pay rent on time and in full.

Perhaps the biggest hurdle to be wary of when receiving tenancy applications is rental discrimination.

What is rental discrimination?

Rental discrimination laws in New South Wales fall under the NSW Anti-Discrimination Act 1977, although similar regulations apply throughout all Australian states.

According to the Tenants’ Union of NSW, discrimination involves treating someone unfairly solely because they belong to a particular group of people. This ‘group’ can be defined by race, sex, marital status, age, disability, sexuality or sexual preference.

You cannot turn down a tenant’s application based on any of the above criteria, lest you be accused of rental discrimination. This is to ensure everyone gets a fair and even chance at renting a property.

That’s not to say you don’t have a say in the matter when choosing from prospective tenants. You are still allowed to choose the best possible option from all those who have submitted an application.

How can I avoid being accused of rental discrimination?

A good way to avoid being accused of rental discrimination is to send out customised emails to unsuccessful applicants, informing them as to why they have not been chosen for the property.

By giving people insight into the legitimate reasoning behind your thought process, you will avoid anyone getting the wrong idea and believing that they are the victims of discrimination.

It can also be prudent to hire a professional property manager to oversee the tenancy application process.

Because they have experience and foreknowledge with discrimination laws, your property manager will be able to ensure that the process is handled in a legal and ethical manner.

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