WRC rules “accidental landlord” inadvertently discriminated against prospective tenant on HAP – Meczyki Times

The Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) has ruled that an “accidental” landlord inadvertently discriminated against a mother-of-one when he refused to consider her an apartment because she was in receipt of housing benefit payments. was doing

Ausra Ziurinskaite’s complaint under the Equal Status Act 2000 against Adrienne Keogh was upheld by the Workplace Relations Commission in a decision published on Thursday morning.

Ms Zurenskett told an equality hearing in February that she responded to an advert. Daft.ie House to rent at Holywell Villas in Swades, Co Dublin in October 2020.

In her email, she wrote that she was looking for an apartment for herself and her young son, and that she was in receipt of Housing Assistance Payment (HAP).

He offered references from his employer and then landlord and offered to pay the money in cash or bank transfer, the tribunal heard.

Ms Keogh’s reply came 45 minutes later: “Sorry, I’m not part of the Heap scheme. [sic]”

Ms Zurenskett said she believed she may have been discriminated against and served Ms Keogh with a statutory complaint form ES1 at the address of the property offered for rent in November 2020.

On a form submitted as evidence, she said she believed she had been treated less favorably “because HAP would pay my rent”.

The complainant said he received no response to the ES1 form and the letter was returned to him, opened the following January.

The landlady, Ms Keogh, told the equality hearing that she “didn’t know how the HAP process worked” and thought the HAP was a housing body with which she had to register.

That “didn’t mean she wouldn’t rent out her apartment to someone who was qualified”, she said in her written submission – just that she was “not registered”.

Ms Keogh said she was an “accidental landlord” and had “struggled to find somewhere to live in the past”.

She bought the apartment as a place to live rather than an investment and when the property market crashed it fell into negative equity – meaning she “couldn’t sell it”, she said.

The landlord was “trying to get him a quick rental” when he advertised so he could pay the mortgage, and he also had to support his elderly parents.

She added that her father had just been discharged from hospital after suffering a stroke and was “a total wreck with the apartment”.

He said they included a potential tenant who had not taken out a lease and a leaking roof.

“So many applicants mentioned HAP, I decided to look into it,” he said, but added that when he inquired with Fingal County Council he was told that his registration It will take six weeks to process.

Ms Keogh “couldn’t wait six weeks to get a new tenant”, she said.

He said when he wrote back to Ms Zurenskett, his belief was that HAP was “a path she could not go down”.

Ms Keogh said she could sympathize with the complainant because she was “also a mother” and had raised her children to respect people.

The landlord said that she did not want the complainant to think that she did not rent the apartment to him because she was receiving housing payments.

The landlord apologized to the complainant at the hearing and said she would let him know if the apartment became available.

Advocating officer Catherine Byrne wrote that it should have been “obvious” to Ms Keogh that the complainant had the money to cover the deposit.

“It is not difficult to check whether she is, in fact, eligible for HAP and, as a new landlord in HAP, when the first month’s rent is due,” Ms. Murphy added. added.

The adjudicating officer said he was satisfied that the respondent “did not intend to discriminate” but that because the property was let to a tenant who was not eligible to pay, there had been discrimination.

“It is clear to me that Ms. Keogh refused to rent the property to Ms. Zurenskett because she did not familiarize herself with the process of renting to a HAP applicant,” he wrote.

Ms. Murphy added that the purpose of the legislation was to protect HAP recipients and prevent such incidents.

Noting that the maximum possible award was €15,000, he ordered Ms Keogh to pay the complainant €3,600 compensation, the equivalent of three months’ HAP entitlement.