Partners and Suppliers Mark McAuley 19/02/2024

Landlords, Discrimination and the Law: A Guide to Ensuring Fair Tenancies

Landlords are well aware they have to maintain properties that comply with UK regulations and the law. But your legal responsibilities also extend to the people you choose to rent to. Being up to date on the rules around discrimination can help ensure you avoid unwanted legal consequences.

In the United Kingdom, there are strict rules and regulations in place to protect individuals with ‘protected characteristics’ from discrimination. In this guide, we'll explore the key aspects of the UK laws surrounding discrimination in tenancies and provide landlords with practical tips on ensuring fair treatment for all.

First of all, what are protected characteristics?

The Equality Act 2010 outlines ‘Protected characteristics’ as criteria by which individuals cannot be discriminated against. These characteristics include:

  • Disability
  • Gender reassignment
  • Marriage and civil partnership
  • Pregnancy and maternity
  • Race
  • Religion or belief
  • Sex
  • Sexual orientation

Be aware that unfairly choosing not to rent to someone with protected characteristics, could leave you open to a legal challenge.

Tips for Landlords to Ensure Fair Tenancies:

Advertise Inclusively:
Whether you are responsible for directly advertising your property or whether it’s an agency, ensure that your language is inclusive. Use neutral and welcoming language that encourages a diverse range of tenants. Adverts that state ‘ideal for a young single man’ might seem innocuous, but would clearly discriminate against women and older men. Focus on describing the property, not the tenant. 

Equal Treatment During the Application Process:
Treat all prospective tenants equally during the application process. Avoid asking intrusive questions about personal characteristics that are not relevant to their ability to meet the requirements of the tenancy. Consider drafting clear, fair and relevant questions in advance and asking the same questions to each applicant.

Make Reasonable Adjustments for Disabled Tenants:
The Equality Act 2010 places a legal obligation on landlords to make reasonable adjustments to ensure that disabled tenants feel safe and comfortable in their rented property. Be prepared to make reasonable adjustments to accommodate tenants with disabilities. This could include providing wheelchair access, allowing assistance animals, or making modifications to the property within reason. 

Fair Renting Practices:
This one should be obvious but sadly, selective pricing is often used to alienate people with protected characteristics. To comply with the law, ensure that your rent-setting practices are fair and consistent for all tenants. Avoid discriminatory practices such as charging higher rent based on protected characteristics.

Equally Maintain a Safe and Secure Environment:
Whether you have one tenant or fifty tenants, it’s important to ensure they all receive the best upkeep and care. Ensure proper maintenance and repairs are delivered with the same efficiency regardless of the tenant’s situation.

Creating a fair and inclusive renting environment is not just a legal obligation; it's a vital aspect of being a responsible landlord. By understanding the protected characteristics outlined in the Equality Act 2010 and implementing fair practices throughout the tenancy process, landlords can contribute to a positive and respectful housing experience for all tenants. Fostering a diverse and inclusive community benefits everyone involved and helps build a more harmonious living environment.

Fostering a fair and inclusive renting environment goes hand in hand with providing a safe and comfortable home. That’s where Your Repair can help. While you focus on being a fair landlord, we can focus on emergency repairs and essential maintenance.

We have specialist landlord plans to suit every need and budget. Please click the link below and browse our fantastic care packages. Act now, we are currently 2 months free for NRLA members until the end of March.


Mark McAuley

Mark McAuley Head of Commercial Operations & Partnerships

Mark has 10+ years of experience working in the boiler & home cover industry with previous roles in British Gas and Hive helping customers to use energy efficiently. Now at YourRepair Mark is continuing to focus on supporting UK homeowners to decarbonise their homes through new propositions and accessible routes to sustainable heating technology.

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