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Discrimination – Housing Assistance Payment or HAP

Landlords and Tenants should be aware that it is discrimination on the grounds of housing assistance when a landlord refuses to accept a Housing Assistance Payment or HAP. This is a breach of Sections 3 and 6 of the Equal Status Act 2000. Failure on the part of the landlord to sign the HAP forms means that the complainant has been treated less favourably than another person would be in comparable grounds

In the case of Laura Keane v John Corley ADJ-00040910 The complainant (Ms. Keane) landlord refused to comply with the tenant’s request to complete Section B of the HAP application and explicitly stated that he did not want HAP on his property. Ms. Keane also alleged that she was victimised by her landlord when he sought to punish her and her family with an eviction as he handed her a Notice if Termination.

The respondent (landlord) did not attend the hearing and the complainant tenant was free to give uncontested (or unchallenged) evidence.

Workplace Relations Commission

The Workplace Relations Commission found that the ongoing refusal to complete the HAP Form and/or to accept HAP towards payment of rent amounts to less favourable treatment. The Adjudicator ordered:

  1. Payment of €13,000 in compensation to the complainant for the effects of the discriminatory conduct. He noted that this award “….reflected the seriousness of the discrimination and the effects of same, both financial and otherwise, on the complainant”.
  2. The landllord must take such steps as are required to enable the complainant tenant to participate in the HAP scheme and complete the relevant forms and comply with any other steps to allow the complainant apply for and receive the HAP payment.

Case Learning Tip

Landlords should be aware that they cannot refuse to accept a Housing Assistance Payment as it may constitute discrimination under the Equal Status Act 2000 (as amended) and lead to an award of compensation for the tenant.

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