I recently asked the Minister for Justice about the ongoing discrimination against social welfare recipients in regard to the rental housing market, see his reply below.
To ask the Minister for Justice and Equality the steps he will take to address the gaps in Irish equality laws with regard to equal access to goods and services for those receiving social welfare payments, in particular access to rented accommodation for persons currently in receipt of rent allowance.
594. To ask the Minister for Justice and Equality if he will take action to address the ongoing discrimination against social welfare recipients with regard to rented accommodation being advertised with a no rent allowance accepted stipulation.
Discrimination on the basis of an individual’s personal characteristics is prohibited in respect to nine specified grounds in the access to and supply of goods and services, including housing, by the Equal Status Acts 2000 to 2012. These grounds are gender, civil status, family status, sexual orientation, religion, age, disability, race, and membership of the Traveller community. The prohibition applies to direct discrimination, whereby a person is treated less favourably than another person is, has been or would be treated in a comparable situation on any of the grounds specified.
However, also prohibited is indirect discrimination, where an apparently neutral provision puts a person of a specified gender, civil status, family status, sexual orientation, religion, age, disability, race, or membership of the Traveller community at a particular disadvantage compared with other persons, unless the provision is objectively justified by a legitimate aim and the means of achieving that aim are appropriate and necessary.
It is therefore open to a person who has been refused a private tenancy on the basis of being in receipt of social welfare payments and who feels that this refusal is indirectly linked to his or her gender, civil status, family status, sexual orientation, religion, age, disability, race, or membership of the Traveller community to refer a discrimination complaint to the Equality Tribunal under the Equal Status Acts. Information and advice in this regard is available from the Equality Authority.
While I have no plans to add further discriminatory grounds to this legislation at present, my Department keeps equal status and employment equality legislation under ongoing review.