Anti-Discrimination Board of NSW

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​Rental struggles out west - Broken Hill

​Published: 26 Feb 2016

Rents in Sydney may be difficult for people on average incomes, but for some groups even renting a property in the first place can be a challenge.

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Picture: Staff from the Anti-Discrimination Board and the Office of Fair Trading with community members from Broken Hill.

Background​

After reports that Aboriginal people were having problems renting properties in Broken Hill, staff from the Anti-Discrimination Board and the Office of Fair Trading travelled there to liaise with real estate agents.

‘We visited the various agents and told them about our enquiry service, which can give free, confidential advice on discrimination questions,’ said the Board’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Team Leader, Felicity Huntington. ‘We also met with community members to hear their concerns.’​

Current rental situation

Felicity says that some Aboriginal community members felt they only being allowed to rent properties of poorer quality. There have been suggestions in other parts of NSW that some agents might even be asking for photo ID so the landlord could see that they were Aboriginal without this having to be put in writing.

Even if the agent is operating on the instructions of the landlord, they can still be vicariously liable for discrimination. ‘We encouraged the agents to avoid discrimination by considering each prospective tenant according to the same criteria: their rental history, their references and their ability to pay the rent,’ Felicity said. ‘And if they want more information, ask everyone for it, not just the Aboriginal people.’​

Outcomes

‘We also advise agents to give reasons why applicants are not successful, where possible. Otherwise it leaves it open for them to interpret the decision as being based on race, or any other stereotype.’

People from other racial backgrounds and other groups such as young people can also be the victim of assumptions about their quality as a tenant. ‘If people make decisions based on these stereotypes, they can be missing out on very good tenants,’ Felicity said.

Back to February 2016 - Equal Time Newsletter​

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