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Gay-only room adverts ‘may be illegal’

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  1. gay only, yes should be allowed. straight only..no.

    This is because the vast majority of rooms are by default friendly towards straight people because heterosexuality is viewed as the norm, the default.

    The whole point of gay only spaces/rooms/whatever is similar to that of womens only space.

    To create places where we can just “be” and don’t have to worry about the systemic discrimination that goes on in the wider world.

    1. If someone says “straight only” I wouldn’t even want to live there, at least they are honest that they are uncomfortable around people like me, the same way as someone advertising for “gay only” is uncomfortable sharing their home with a straight person. The same way someone might advertise for “women only” or “muslim only” or whatever its not offensive just people are particular about who they live with.

      At the end of the day this is a person’s private home, not their place of business they deserve that little bit of discretion.

      1. Totally true for people who want lodgers. I agree with you there.

        Though I think things should be a bit different to what you said for non live in landlords

        1. Its perfectly possible to achieve having a lodger you are comfortable with and who is comfortable with you by having fairly worded advertising and a conversation/interview prior to decisions being made.

          1. gattagiudecca 7 Jul 2012, 2:02am

            Stu I’ve advertised a few times over the years for flatmates. The first few times I did not specify “gay only” but I have always made it clear that the current people in the house were gay and that any prospective flatmate has to be comfortable with that. However, because it’s London, people come anyway. I had one girl come to view a room who asked me if she could have her own bathroom as she didn’t want to share a toilet with gay guys due to the possibility of catching a disease. I had one straight guy who told me multiple times that he was not gay, despite me not asking about his sexuality. There have been other examples. Since then, I’ve specified gay only in my adverts. It saves me a lot of time carrying out pointless interviews/viewings with people who are so desperate for a room that they will take anything.

    2. de Villiers 4 Jul 2012, 9:29am

      Some people on this board have viewed this wrongly. It is not about saying negatively “no blacks, no Irish, no straights”. It is more expressing a positive preference as to those with whom one wants to be friends or share personal space.

      There is a reason why gay people tend to be friends together – the same with any minorities whether it be Jews, the French in London, or Asians. It is both the shared feeling of being in a group, of implicitly understood thoughts and actions without explanation, and unconditional acceptance of particular attributes.

      TinyTee has identified this perfectly – it is not to discriminate unfairly but to create places where gay people can just “be”, away from the domination of straight culture.

      Discrimination of itself is not wrong – it is unjustified discrimination with no proper purpose which is wrong. Wanting to live with a person who shares one’s behaviour or gender or religion is not inherently wrong and is freedom of association.

      1. Freedom of association is entirely reasonable.

        Business relationships are subject to the Equalities act.

        Having a lodger is a business relationship.

        We should expect to be subject to equality if we engage in business activities.

      2. Wanting to live with a person who shares one’s behaviour … is not wrong

        But surely that can justify ‘no blacks’ or ‘no Jews’?

        1. Only they haven’t said ‘No this’ or ‘No that’ they have just stated that they want a certain person.

  2. If your renting out a spare room and this person is living in your home, surely you have every right to make sure it is someone that you will get along with?

    1. Spanner1960 3 Jul 2012, 6:54pm

      So “No Gypsies, No Blacks, No Dogs.”
      Like that you mean?

      1. clearly not, im just saying that if it is my home i should have every right to have reservations on certain types of people that I know Im uncomfortable with, such as No DSS, No Pets, No Smokers – the usual. If someone advertises for straight only then its clearly not somewhere a gay person would want to live anyway.

        1. Spanner1960 3 Jul 2012, 11:45pm

          So by the same token, why can’t I say “whites only”? if I am “uncomfortable” with ethnic people?
          Your choice is prejudiced.
          It’s either everyone, or no-one.

          1. You could say that and everyone would know about your prejuidices. ‘Ethnic’ people as you describe them would know from your advert that you are racist and wouldn’t want to live with you – solves your problem there. It all depends on how badly you want to rent that room out tbh.

          2. James

            So you saying that a clearly racist advert which seeks to prohibit non-whites from accessing services is acceptable?

            I totally disagree.

          3. Spanner1960 4 Jul 2012, 9:04am

            “if it is my home i should have every right to have reservations on certain types of people.”

            That has always been the problem.
            In some circles that is the perfect description of “discrimination.”

          4. Spanner1960 4 Jul 2012, 9:13am

            @Vince: I am playing Devil’s advocate here and trying to determine exactly where James wishes to draw the line in the sand. He is saying banning pets, DSS or smokers is OK, but ethnic people is not.

            As a matter of fact, as a smoker, I would find his choice discriminatory, but that’s an entirely different matter.

          5. Given that smoking is widely accepted as a health issue and is not permitted in public places etc – its entirely reasonable (in my opinion) for a landlord (particularly one who lives in his own home and shares communal areas) not to want smokers in his address, including any private room they are renting out.

          6. Everyone is an ‘ethnic’ person: you mean of an ‘ethnic minority‘ or perhaps, more realistically, ‘non-white’.

          7. It won’t let me reply to the comments in a thread, but

            @Vince: If someone is asking to live with another Indian, African, Polish person then it might be because they want ti mix with more people like themselves, it could be a language barrier – you don’t know their actual reasoning for stating those preferences. I never said it was socially acceptable but if someone posts that advert then people of non-white origin would know that they are racist and wouldn’t want to live there anyway.

            @Spanner – I would consider a smoker but as it is my home there are ground rules – no smoking inside any part of the property due to the damage and discoloration it would cause my walls, skirting boards, doors, window frames and definitely not in the communal areas of the block as per the lease agreement. People may say no smokers because they have children, pets or health issues such as asthma.

          8. James

            I would agree with your comments about smoking.

            If a person is seeking a Polish speaker to share with then an advert along the lines of “Polish speaking landlord seeks lodger” would perhaps encourage the sort of response that was being sought without the issue of breaching the law?

          9. @Stu – as the Housing solicitor said there is quite possibly no breach of the law because housing law doesn’t cover live in landlords – It will be for a judge to interpret it as whether they are covered or not – the chances are they will not be.

      2. Spanner1960 4 Jul 2012, 9:18am

        Incidentally, for those marking me down here for say this, it used to be very much the norm; things have fortunately changed somewhat now.
        (although they still don’t like dogs.)
        http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_wNJtF1XNe8Y/SngiXoxhOJI/AAAAAAAABZM/xpGfWG5vLOw/s400/no+irish+no+blacks+no+dogs.jpg

        1. Sadly it was the norm.

          Equality should go both ways.

          Not sure smoking is a protected status, nor should it be, though.

    2. Bengt Held 3 Jul 2012, 9:16pm

      “If your renting out a spare room and this person is living in your home, surely you have every right to make sure it is someone that you will get along with?”

      So the sexual orientation is an important factor of which folks “you get along with”. As a gay man I can tell you that some of the people I most dislike are other gaymen. And i know other LGBT-people who share the same feelings. Your seriosly think that gender, race or sexual orientation is factors of who you “get along with”. Is this 2012?

      1. Im not saying it is an important factor for me, but it could be for some people – those which have been subjected to homophobic abuse for example may want the additional emotional security of house-sharing with another LGBT person. Im not saying that gender is important but a woman may not feel secure sharing with a man if there is only one bathroom for example meaning that the other sharer has a high chance of seeing her in a towel after a shower, same as some people from asian backgrounds want to be around people who understand their culture or religious practises – its more then “getting along” kind of like a mutual understanding.

  3. If private B&Bs can’t turn away customers from renting a room then the same should apply in this case. But surely just changing “gays only” to “applicants should be gay friendly” and so on would be an easy away round this no?

    1. Spanner1960 3 Jul 2012, 6:58pm

      There is a difference between a private advertisement and running a business, either looking for specific customers or staff.

    2. Its a tad different when they are going to be permently living in your HOME sharing your bathroom, lounge, dining room, kitchen etc as compared to someone temporarily staying as a guest in your business where you don’t actually live.

      1. But, correct me if I’m wrong, the case of the Christian B&B owners ran the hotel from their own home. So if we’re discussing a case of people renting out rooms in their own home then why would it be acceptable in one case but not the other?

        I don’t support it in either case but as I said above there are fairly easy ways around it to make it clear who you’re looking for without saying it outright you don’t want x type of person

        1. In that case they were a business doing it for nothing but profit, a hotel has a short term stay for a specified number of days.

          In the case of house shares it is for the longer term and people do it to have someone to split the bills with out of neccessity. The long term nature of house shares and the relatively difficult eviction process makes it acceptable for a person to pick and choose who lives in their home.

          The issue in the Bull case wasn’t that they were gay it was that they were “unmarried” by the laws of the church, despite the law of the land stating they were good as. It was their refusal to acknowledge that which was the reason for the lawsuite.

          1. “In the case of house shares it is for the longer term and people do it to have someone to split the bills with out of neccessity.”

            But that isn’t always the case though. Some do it because they have the space and fancy making some extra money, or because an old flatmate has moved out and they like company. There can be a variety of reasons for renting out rooms that aren’t necessary.

            And it shouldn’t matter if it’s for 1 night or 6 months. Ultimately there should be no direct discrimination towards anyone, but I see no issue with being creative with outlining any requirements in the original ad

          2. Paul.Essex/London 3 Jul 2012, 8:55pm

            Yes but there is discrimination, see my comment below. Have ever flat shared or tried looking for a flatshare? When you get up in the morning, go to the bathroom and the other guy is coming out of the shower, then realises that he’s found himself with nothing but a towel on standing infront of a gay man and reacts like a bunny in the headlights? Or you could cut the atmosphere with a knife when your flatmate walks in and finds you and your boyfriend kissing or just in each other’s arms on the sofa? Or your straight female flatmate has the downright nerve to voice concerns that she don’t like you bringing men you don’t know back to the flat because you’re putting everyone in danger, when you know full well if you were another girl she would never dream of poking her nose into your sex life? Have you tried looking for a room in London? Finding a place is stressful and time consuming enough without wasting my time on people whom neither of us want to live with.

        2. Paul.Essex/London 3 Jul 2012, 7:38pm

          Yes you’re wrong. The B&B owners opened their home up as a business, renting out a room to a permanent resident in your home is different. They tried to use the fact that it was their home and lost because they weren’t renting out their spare room they were running a hospitality business – that’s the difference between a B&B owner and an occupier land lord. There are lots of people who say they are OK with gay people but when they are faced with sharing their home with them, realising that they will be bringing another person of the same gender back to have sex with them, then suddenly they’re not so comfortable with the idea. I’d rather they say it outright (and have to advertise it in their ad) rather than speaking in some code so everyone else is oblivious to the fact that there is an added issue for me when I’m looking for flat shares.

          1. Im glad someone else is on the same wave length as me!

          2. gattagiudecca 7 Jul 2012, 2:11am

            Paul I totally agree with you. I have tried so many times to be creative and spell it out to people in my room adverts, but, to no avail. People don’t read the adverts – they are just so desperate to get a room that they come to view it anyway. I imagine a lot of the people commenting on this thread are commenting from the smug position of being able to not share their home. Unfortunately, the only way I can afford te rents in London is by sharing. As flatmates invariably move on, and I want to stay in the property i think of as my home, i have to advertise for new people. I now specify gay only. It just saves everyone, including me, a lot of wasted time. I’ve had the same problems you have with straight flatmates.

  4. Spanner1960 3 Jul 2012, 6:57pm

    A bit tricky.
    One can ask for a male or a female, but you can’t ask for a sexuality or a race.

    I think it is only fair that it should both ways, but I would say “Looking for someone for flatshare with 2 gay men” – That way people should know what to expect. I would have no problems sharing with a straight guy, as long as he had no problem with me.

    1. Very sensible approach!

    2. Agreed – best way all round IMO.

    3. gattagiudecca 7 Jul 2012, 2:19am

      Spanner – good luck with that! I don’t know where you live, but I’ve done loads of adverts over the years in London saying similar things and people pay no notice to it. They just turn up to view the room anyway then at the interview they say things like “i’m ok with gay guys as long as you keep it in the bedroom”. Or, the female who asked about catching diseases from the toilet. Or the female who asked me how many men I bring home. Or the male who asked me if i kissed/cuddled my bf in the communal areas of the house. In my humble opinion, that is not someone who is comfortable with gay guys. He/She has therefore wasted his/her own time and mine by coming to view the room. When you have done 30 or 40 room viewings, you will do anything to narrow down the field from the outset. So, by stating “gay only” it saves a lot of time. Ok – so just because a person is gay does not mean they are gonna be suitable. But it does mean that they will at least be comfortable living in a gay house.

  5. Terry Stewart 3 Jul 2012, 7:09pm

    No Blacks, No Irish, No Dogs, No Bangladeshi, No Pakistani, No Queers, No Trans, No Bisexuals, No Straights.

    Why do you want to go down that backward route. Many communities have fought to get rid of this backward rubbish. Now you want to go back there

    There is nothing worse than when the Oppressed become the Oppressor.

    No thank you I am happy to share with decent human being regardless.

    1. different when it is your home as opposed to your business your not oppressing your just avoiding potential conflict. You could extrapolate this to the outlawing of gay bars, gay hostels, gay clubs – gay anything. Its a tricky one to call you could render an entire group invisible even if you mean to act well and remove the little support some people have.

  6. Jock S. Trap 3 Jul 2012, 7:18pm

    This could be a difficult area but yes in principal these specifically requested room should be illegal. Information should be available for the individual to make up their own mind.

    However their sadly is still the feeling safe issue which must be also taken into account. People do have the right to feel safe and respected in their home esp when sharing. The landlord has the right to make sure their tenants are comfortable if they expect rent to be paid.

    I do see both sides, some women may prefer other women or indeed gay men etc same with gay household. There is a balance to be met.

    So yes it should be illegal but consideration must be taken into account of the enviroment in which other are expected to live, happily and safely.

    1. pointless legislation at the end of the day it will change nothing the person who owns the house will not rent it out to someone they don’t like, trust or feel safe around. How many gay people would like to be forced into considering a fundalmentalist christian or muslim who believes gays should be killed as living in their home?

      1. Spanner1960 3 Jul 2012, 11:51pm

        I hate to say it, but you’re right.
        If I’m racist, and I only want to employ white people, then who is actually going to prevent it? All the laws and legislation in the world is not going to stop you choosing who you want, for the right or wrong reasons.

        1. exactly but if you have fallen into the trap of making your prejuidice the obvious reason for it then more fool you.

  7. My understanding (and I am by no means an expert in equality or civil law) is that there has to be a good reason to specify that people with protected characteristics eg orientation, gender, race etc would be not considered when goods/services/employment etc are being advertised.

    A good example could be workers for a womens (or mens) refuge being of the same gender.

    Each case would have to be judged on its merits and I suspect consideration would be given to the justification that the advertiser etc had for the narrowing of potential customers/clients/applicants.

    Is it possible that a gay man who has been a victim of homophobic abuse/assault and who wishes to rent out a room in their property (which they live in) for financial reasons might be justified in seeking gay clients due to their fears as a result of their experience. Difficult call, maybe?

    1. It is a difficult call but instead of saying “Gay’s only” surely just get the thesaurus out and insert “Applicants should be LGBT friendly” or something along those lines to make clear the sort of people you’re after without directly excluding someone for any reason

      1. so essentially saying the same thing? People are just going to find these loopholes and use them so legislating on it will achieve nothing. Why should you have to give out clues to your sexuality, religion, ethnicity and your phone number on a public advert so people can contact with you abuse? There could be many reasons for specifying your preferences you don’t have to be of that group.

        I recently got turned down for this lovely flat with my friend no undergrad students – despite being final year law students with a lot more workload then other undergrads – I would have preferred “No undergrads” mentioned overtly on the advert to save me wasting my time.

      2. Spanner1960 3 Jul 2012, 11:52pm

        How about all sexualities considered (as long as you suck cock). :)

        1. that sounds like you would exchange rent for sexual favours, lol.

          1. Spanner1960 4 Jul 2012, 9:07am

            No. Note I did not specify whos cock.

      3. gattagiudecca 7 Jul 2012, 2:23am

        Kris, that doesn’t work in London. I’ve tried it believe me.

    2. Apparently the Equality Act is very ambigious as in it definately applies to agency and whole flats/houses being rented out but not so certain if you renting out individual rooms because it uses the term “property” – I wouldn’t call one bedroom in a flat a “property” – I would call a whole flat, house, bungalow a “property”.

      1. The Equality Act says: “A person (A) discriminates against another (B) if, because of a protected characteristic, A treats B less favourably than A treats or would treat others.” But how this might apply to flat adverts is yet to be tested in court and there is disagreement over the application.

        1. There is a part in the explanatory notes relating to “property”

  8. Bengt Held 3 Jul 2012, 9:12pm

    This is really absurd and the debate shows that LGBT-people are as bigoted as the rest of the people. You only want gaypeople to rent a room. Well, I am a gay man and as a liberal I have more in common with liberal heterosexuals than homosexuals communists. Why should the sexual orientation matter if you want someone to rent a room. Why should you prefer a unfriendly gayperson (of the opposite sex) just because they are “gay” instead of a friendly heterosexual person of the sam or opposite sex who are gayfriendly.

    1. Paul.Essex/London 3 Jul 2012, 11:02pm

      I think you’re missing the point and from your reaction you’ve either never homeshared or you’ve been very lucky in all your experiences. I’m not that fussed about sharing with other LGBT either, but if you’re looking for a flatshare with complete strangers it’s always nice to know you have the Gay Flatshare sites to fall back on. I remember when I was first looking for flat shares. I scoffed at the Gay section of the flat/house share ads on Gumtree. But then the reality hit me, I was young, still insecure and inexperienced about being an open gay man. So traipsing around London and having come to out to complete strangers (who could be psychos anyway) and then gauge their reaction was an utterly terrifying prospect. Even now it still increases the time it’s potentially going to take me to find a place if I have to move out of a flatshare, which with only so much time for flat hunting around a busy schedule can cause big problems. In an ideal world it should be unnecessary but it is.

      1. If you read the original article Bengt Held – it was also people asking for other vegetarians, other muslims, other Indians,, other asians, women only – not just LGBT people. In fact LGBT got quite a small section of the original article. You obviously wouldn’t rent the room out to the unfriendly gay person – you would rent it to the friendly heterosexual person if they still asked to view it. Some people are willing to make exceptions to what they previously had in mind for the right people. Its a case of are you “ballsy” enough to ask anyway and why would you be a good flatmate.

  9. Aryu Gaetu 3 Jul 2012, 9:31pm

    Reminds me of the movie. “Kiss Me, Guido” It’s based on “GWM” = Guy With Money

    From IMDb – Warren has an extra room in his apartment (and is five months behind on the rent) after his lover moves out, so a friend places an ad on his behalf for a GWM roommate. Frankie, a pizza baker (and aspiring actor), decides to move out of his family’s flat in The Bronx when he comes home one evening and walks in on his brother making love to Frankie’s girlfriend. Frankie checks ads for roommates in “the city” (i.e., Manhattan), notices Warren’s ad and decides to answer it, reasoning that GWM stands for “Guy With Money.”

    If you can find it, get it!

  10. I always have difficulty with the argument where an oppressed minority wants protection from discrimination, but then seeks some kind of exemption from those very same laws. All I want is equality. If I was renting out a room the person’s race, gender, religion or sexual orientation would be less of a factor me than the thought “Could I stand having this person in my home?” Person first, label second, if then.

  11. My general view on this is that if we seek to have equality then we should expect to comply with equality requirements. We should not expect special treatment. Therefore, advertising a service/job/goods etc should not include any unfairness on grounds of protected characteristics. Most of us would be rightly concerned if an advertisement said “no-gays”, whereas saying “gay-only” is effectively saying “no-straights” and is discriminating in the opposite direction – is this really fair? I would suggest, generally, not.

    Letting out a room is a business arrangement. Having had to terminate a contract with a lodger in a previous address, that was very much a business based decision.

    That all said, there will always be exceptions – and I discussed some above in another comment. However, as a general rule – if we seek to be treated fairly in issues such as provision of good/services then we should be expected to treat others fairly too.

  12. room should accept people no matter what sex they prefer.

    straight only rooms, its wrong, but so is gay only rooms, its the same thing.

  13. It is a difficult one and one I suspect which would be difficult to police.

    Several years ago I was living in a gay flat share in north London, when one of moved out, we advertised in Loot (is that still going)? The advert stated “double room in gay flat share” at no point did we state that we only only wanted a gay man or woman. When people called to make further enquiries, we reiterated it was a gay flat share at which point we asked the potential flat mate if they were happy about this. In a majority of cases, they were but.

    We ended up getting another gay man to take the room to keep the male/female balance of the flat and also he was the nicest of all those who came to view it.

    I think that if you are tenants seeking a new flat mate then you have that choice but if you are the landlord making the decision then it is much more difficult.

    1. Having sought lodgers in the past, I advertised the room available and when someone contacted me to voice interest, I made it clear that they would be living with a gay couple (well some of the time, my ex was working away some of the time). If they were still interested they were invited round to see the house and I explained that this gave them an opportunity to see what was on offer, meet me (and if around my partner) and ask questions – it was also an opportunity for me to meet them and to reach a conclusion of whether we could get along together. Its not scientific, its often on gut feeling. If the gut feeling was to go ahead then I would look at checking background (eg prior landlord etc) of the interested party and offer the room.

      Except for one occasion when the (supposedly straight but gay friendly) lodger tried it on with my boyfriend when I was out and then tried to hassle me – it went well.

      It could be that depending on how you steer a conversation when a prospective

      1. lodger comes to look at the room, that you could almost eliminate people on grounds of unsuitability (by whatever means including potentially orientation if felt relevant) without having to specify in the advert anything that might be construed as unfair prejudice. At the end of the visit possible lodgers can be told there is another person to come round later that day or the next day and that they will be informed of outcome, and then on reflection of conversation etc a decision made. Its often not a decision on anything but gut feeling.

  14. de Villiers 4 Jul 2012, 9:30am

    Some people on this board have viewed this wrongly. It is not about saying negatively “no blacks, no Irish, no straights”. It is more expressing a positive preference as to those with whom one wants to be friends or share personal space.

    There is a reason why gay people tend to be friends together – the same with any minorities whether it be Jews, the French in London, or Asians. It is both the shared feeling of being in a group, of implicitly understood thoughts and actions without explanation, and unconditional acceptance of particular attributes.

    TinyTee has identified this perfectly – it is not to discriminate unfairly but to create places where gay people can just “be”, away from the domination of straight culture.

    Discrimination of itself is not wrong – it is unjustified discrimination with no proper purpose which is wrong. Wanting to live with a person who shares one’s behaviour or gender or religion is not inherently wrong and is freedom of association..

    1. You already said this above.

      Its fine deciding and discriminating who you want to invite round for dinner or stay over in ones home. Thats reasonable and the law should not intervene.

      However, when one uses ones property for a business relationship then one should and must expect to be subject to the same legislation that other business relationships are subject to. It is a matter of providing goods/services and must therefore be subject to the equalities act – and (save for exceptional circumstances) must not be a matter that discriminates on grounds of protected characteristics.

      However, as Stu fairly says this could be a matter that could be dealt with by way of “interview” when showing prospective tenants round the room/house and a “feel” is found for whether the BUSINESS relationship is workable or not for both parties.

      1. de Villiers 4 Jul 2012, 12:44pm

        The repetition was a mistake.

      2. de Villiers 4 Jul 2012, 12:46pm

        Having a lodger is not really a business decision. Some people all want to live together for the social element. There is no profit to be had – just a group of people who want to share a flat for fun.

        1. I think that is disingenuous

          When I sought lodgers, as most people in similar situations I am aware of, have done so to help financially with mortgage payments etc.

        2. de Villiers 6 Jul 2012, 12:50am

          Well that, perhaps, is you. When I shared flats in Paris with other gay people, it was for a good time.

          1. Perhaps you are fortunate to have had sufficient finances for this not to be a consideration – my experience, that of friends and colleagues (and others who have commented on here) is that lodgers are sought for financial reasons predominantly.

  15. In another report on this issue:

    “Dr Nuno Ferreira, an expert in discrimination law at the University of Manchester, believes that all these groups are covered.

    “It doesn’t make any difference if the landlord lives in the premises or not. This distinction will have a bearing on discrimination on other grounds, but not in relation to race or ethnicity.” The same applies to tenants looking for a housemate, he believes.

    Chris Norris, head of policy at the National Landlords Association, is less sure. “It is not clear whether tenants who do the same are breaking the law or not, although such behaviour is discriminatory against other potential housemates,” he says. “Tenants looking for new housemates should focus on describing the house’s current occupants so that potential applicants can judge for themselves whether they would be a suitable fit or not.”

    The Equality Act appears to support Ferreira’s view that everyone is covered. Explanatory notes published with the act say that

    1. section 33 “…makes it unlawful for a person who has the authority to dispose of premises (for example, by selling, letting or subletting a property) to discriminate against or victimise someone else in a number of ways including by offering the premises to them on less favourable terms; by not letting or selling the premises to them or by treating them less favourably, But housing law expert Daniel Fitzpatrick, associate solicitor at Hodge Jones & Allen, argues it’s “ambiguous”. In general, housing legislation does not include live-in landlords and tenants, so it depends whether the Equality Act goes further, he says. “

      1. section 33 says “authority to dispose of premises by selling, letting or subletting a property” – do you refer to one room of yours as a “property”? I certainly don’t I call it a portion of my property – it is only a partial disposal so potentially it is not covered by the Equality Act. And as Mr Fitzpatrick clearly points out housing legislation does not cover this kind of scenario normally.

        1. Property in law is defined as anything owned by a person or entity whether sub-divided or not.

          In this regard, the legal definition of property would appear to include lodgers.

  16. Out of curiosity went to look for gay rooms rentals online.

    Found this ad:

    “Please, read this ad carefully…

    This is a great home to live in and enjoy!

    So, only apply if you fit in it please.

    We are 4 gay guys, looking for a quiet and respectful gay guy to share our home with us! The right person can be a student or professional, but really have to be clean addicted and leave kitchen, bedroom, living room etc clean and tidy as it was before use it, as our house is spotless and we like to keep like that, and it’s so pleasant to live in a place like it.”

    Which I thought worded things really well (lots more info in ad too), until I found this bit:

    “You must be 18-25, gay, dog friendly, quiet and happy to fit in”.

    Surely, the dog friendly bit is ok – but why does age and orientation need to be stated in the advert?

    1. Paul.Essex/London 4 Jul 2012, 5:37pm

      Because that’s who they want to live with. Flat/house share hunting is time consuming, stressful and for the majority will be necessary at the most inconvenient of times. So if someone has a problem with the fact that I’m the wrong side of 30 and L,G,B or T, then I’d rather know from the ad than after I’ve wasted my time (and theirs) traipsing across London to find out. There’s a lot of talk on here about business relationships. As a lawyer I’m all too well aware of the infinite amount of ways that the law (especially contract law) plays an integral part in almost every part of our lives. But when it comes to someone I’m living with I really don’t care about the equality laws. Why? Because that’s one of the few non-friend/family relationships where it has no real impact. You can spout as much theoretical ethos as you like but the fact is that people are entitled to their opinions and their home is the one place they won’t ever be able to hide it….

      1. Paul.Essex/London 4 Jul 2012, 5:50pm

        …only naive early 20 something flat sharers believe that they can mask what their real motivations from the people they live with. And in my experience these specific types are usually female – yes! sexist but true! And when you are making a gut decision about who you live with, these are the types of things we all consider, and I mean everyone including the people gasping at my apparent prejudice who will now lambast me for trying tar them with the same brush, saying “no!! not me!!”. And before everyone starts screaming misogynist at me, it’s an just an example, I can think of a ton of negative things about male flatshares too. So I would say that this is the one time when a frank exchange of opinion and belief is warranted and the Equality Law will do more harm than good with respect to Occupier Land Lords and co-tenants.

        1. That sounds like someone wants equality with exceptions – thats not real equality.

          1. Paul.Essex/London 4 Jul 2012, 8:13pm

            I want equality without exception, I just know that in this instance it will not happen until other things change in society. We do not live in a theoretical bubble and nothing brings that fact more into focus than when it comes to sharing your home with strangers. This is the one time when saying “like or lump it” to someone with views different to your own simply doesn’t work. When you are the one looking for both a suitable home and people that you can share it with, skirting around issues with politically correct subtext simply isn’t practical. Just ask all the people who end up looking at gay only flatshares who don’t actually have a preference about sharing with gay only people.

          2. Thats the argument the Christian Institute use in the Bulls B&B case

          3. Paul.Essex/London 5 Jul 2012, 12:13am

            And as I have already pointed out in other comments, being an Occupier Land Lord/Co-Tenant, where you are looking to share your room long term with someone, and running a hospitality business are two different things. Especially when you are looking for co-tenants, most people in London don’t flat/house share for the fun of it, they do it because they can’t afford not to.

          4. The fact they can’t afford not to means it is a business decision – to which the equality act applies regarding the provision of goods/services. As the County Court found in the case of the Bulls.

          5. There were no subtle pretexts in any of the interviews/conversations with any of my former lodgers when we met to show the room/house and discussed whether the living arrangements could work for both of us (and my boyfriend at the time).

            I wanted to make sure it worked for me, my partner and them (if the business relationship was to work).

            So whilst I did not say “no straights” which is exactly the same as “gay only” – the advert was reasonably clear that it was a gay household.

            I didnt care what the orientation of the lodger was – I didnt want to have sex with him/her – so why, would it realistically be relevant or appropriate? I did care that their presence did not make me, my boyfriend or them feel uncomfortable – and that was the purpose of meeting them and discussing the likelihood of the business arrangement and living/social arrangements working.

            It does not need to be discriminatory advertising to achieve a desired outcome. I preferred gay lodgers but was happy with

          6. someone who would get along with their landlord and his living arrangements. That is something difficult to advertise for – and why a conversation/interview/meeting first to gauge the situation is essential in my view.

            If advertising is done properly then how could you prove that discrimination occurred – but some civil claimants would seek damages (of whatever value) or the legal decision in their favour if they perceived they were discriminated against. If there is no room to show discrimination i.e. the advert is watertight – then how could it be easily proved that discrimination occurred (if it did).

      2. Im a final year law student … i guess thats why we think alike unlike most people just reading the statute without understanding or context – I think in the original article the housing lawyer has the correct interpretation as I don’t see any judge intruding on the whole “an englishman’s home is his castle” idea and would make the same distinction as you and I have done.

        1. The Englishmans home is his castle approach is the argument that the Bulls tried, unsuccessfully, to use in their B&B (in their home) which they barred gay couples from.

          They used their home as a business. A landlord who lives in their home and seeks a lodger is also using their home as a business. A judge would have to hear a case which was brought before them where there was reasoned argument that the law had been breached.

          1. The purpose of a business is to make profit, if you are renting out a room generally it is to pay the mortgage, rent, service charge, parking permit charge, electric, gas, tv license all of which are costs. Im not saying this is the case in all scenarios but if that is the case then it is not a business the Bulls were running a HOTEL, a registered business making a fairly reasonable turnover – something that someone renting out a spare room doesn’t get. Yes a judge may have to hear the case if the judge is not convinced then they will be asked to pay the other sides costs, and even if they do win the judge may feel that the lawsuite was uncalled for and a waste of their time where they can award adverse or minimal costs. I have heard cases from solicitors and barristers where exactly this has happened.

          2. According to the CAB, National Association of Landlords and Northern Housing Advisory Service whilst a landlord may or may not be a business in terms of legal identity – the arrangements whether between individuals or between a legal entity and a tenant are business agreements and thus can be construed as being subject to equality legislation.

            You are correct cases can end up in damages being awarded where malicious or inappropriate claims are lodged. I am not convinced – nor are those qualified in civil law that I have discussed this with – that some cases could have merit and be brought successfully against an unwitting landlord who advertised unfairly.

  17. The Halcyon 4 Jul 2012, 10:43am

    By the letter of the law, the adverts are illegal, yes but unless an advert is extremely offensive and prejudiced, I doubt any magistrate will bother to hear such a case, particularly in shared accommodation. Easy way around the rules would be to say gay/lesbian/bisexuals “preferred” rather than “only”. That doesn’t negate other people applying but pretty much tells prospective tenants that if they aren’t in that group they should keep looking.

    The same also goes for age ranges in shared accommodation – it’s about building a rapport and living with someone more or less the same age as yourself is more likely to lead to a good living situation rather than a bunch of strangers splitting the rent.

    1. Its not for a magistrate to decide whether they wish to hear a case or not – it is for the prosecuting authority to determine if there is a case to answer and then present the case to the bench/court – in the event that there is sufficient evidence to justify a case then the case must be heard.

      Whether you or I feel that is common sense about the adverts is not the issue when it comes to determining whether there may be a legitimate case in law.

      Achieving a good living situation can easily be arranged without having prejudicial wording in an advert by a simple interview/conversation with prospective lodgers prior to any agreement being reached – and a fairly worded advert.

      So “Gay couple seek lodger” would be acceptable but “No straights” or “Gay lodger required” would not.

      1. I doubt they would even bother to hear this is in a criminal trial, it will be if a person wants to bring a civil claim then if they can afford it – Unless there is gross discrimination I doubt any judge would even want to here it and even if they do they can award minimal costs like they have in the past (the smallest coin in the land – 1p) or even adverse costs where even though you have won you still have to pay the other sides costs – which can outweigh any compensation you are entitled to.

        That is the danger of bringing a frivolous law suite that you end up with very little gain or making a loss.

        1. It wouldnt be a criminal matter – it would be a breach of civil law.

          1. Which is what I said Stu, read the whole comment – I was correcting you and which part of civil law then Stu?

            There is no contract, there is no tortious wrong going on here. And as I already said bringing that lawsuite would get them minimal costs of 1p or even made to pay the other sides costs.

          2. You said “Prosecuting authority” by which you implied it would be a criminal matter – in a civil law suite the claimant needs to prove on a balance of probabilities that they suffered HARM – In a civil lawsuite the person bringing the case is called the “claimant” not the prosecution.

          3. James

            I was initially referring to the comment above by The Halcyon who suggested this matter would appear before a Magistrates court.

            Unlikely in my opinion, like the case of the Bulls this would probably be within the civil jurisdiction of the County Court.

            Now, I may have used an incorrect legal term re prosecuting authority – I apologise. However, the claimant would have to be able to demonstrate that they had a case which on the balance of probabilities would demonstrate a breach of the law. If the court refused to hear such a case where there was a possibility a breach could be demonstrated on the balance of probabilities then the court may be seen as obstructing access to civil or natural justice and face appeal, complaint or legal redress themselves.

          4. I tend to take the view of the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) who have said that under the Equality Act it is illegal for a person who is renting out a room to treat one group of people less favourably than another group of people.

            This is reinforced by Dr Nuno Ferreira, an expert in discrimination law at the University of Manchester, said that the act covers adverts placed by absentee landlords, letting agents, live-in landlords and tenants looking for housemates and states that “It doesn’t make a difference if the landlord lives in the premises or not”.

        2. People used the same argument about the Bulls B&B case.

          They were wrong too.

          1. Actually in the Bull case it was a hospitality business and not part of private home. Its completely different – go and read the full judgment Stu – Any good lawyer will be able to find this distinction straight away and as the lawyer in the original article said there is NO housing law for people renting out part of their home for the Equality Act to be related to.

          2. And if you read Paul Essex/London’s post above he makes the same point as me about why the Bull’s case does not apply in this scenario. Unless your suddenly a qualified lawyer as well now?

          3. James

            In the judgement in the Bull case, the judge accepted that it was the Bulls home but that the argument to exemptions to the Equality Act was void when the Bulls used that property for business purposes. In the provision of goods and services then the Equality Act applies – even if you are using your home for business purposes.

          4. James

            No I am not a lawyer but I am able to read and understand the law – probably as much as a final year student!

          5. James

            I also have had the benefit of dealing with legal situations in the real world – rather than the fantasy island of academia and studying – which is never quite the same as the real world.

          6. @Stu. The scenarios are different. They were running a hospitality business – a person renting out a room in their home doesn’t see it as a business arangement as they are not making profit from it unlike the Bulls. The statute isn’t the be all and end all – parts of it may not be in force yet, some of it may have been repealed since the time of writing, some of it doesn’t mean what you think it means on an ordinary reading, some of it has to be read in light of other statues – sometimes you have to appeal judicial decisions. As the solicitor said in the article housing law doesn’t normally cover live in landlords or tenants seeking another tenant. I have dealt with my own legal situations. you can see the amount of people that think they understand the law on youtube trying to argue why they shouldn’t pay for a TV license or council tax – referring to our constitution without understanding what it is or make the incorrect ascertation that common law overules statute.

          7. @James

            I hear all you are saying about the complexities of understanding law. My degree is law (which I studied part time whilst a police officer). So, I am aware of that. My area of expertise is criminal law – but nonetheless a grounding in understanding law is something I have, and I have investigated some fairly complex areas in the past.
            In other words, you don’t need to teach me to suck eggs in that regard.
            However, I do not accept that your interpretation of the law is accurate or how it would or could be construed in court. Thats the joy of an adversarial legal system in England – its about arguing ones point. I would prefer not to take the risk if letting out a room and ensure judgements were made through discussion and understanding a potential lodger rather than discriminatory adverts.
            I also have to say I tend to believe the views of Professors in law (who I quoted) rather than final year law students on the veracity and interpretation of law. No disrespect meant -

          8. and I wish you well in a (hoepfully) successful future career – please do bear in mind, that if someone disagrees with your interpretation of law, that does not mean necessarily that they are wrong.

    2. In my view:

      It is illegal for landlords to discriminate against tenants on the basis of race, gender, disability, sexuality or religion and the following acts are prohibited:

      · Renting a property to certain tenants on worse terms than other tenants

      · Treating certain tenants differently when setting policies regarding facilities. For example, these could include a laundry or garden access.

      · Evicting or harassing certain tenants because of their race, gender, disability, sexuality or religion.

      · Refusing to incorporate reasonable demands in a tenancy agreement necessary for a disabled person to live at the property. For example, problems could occur if a landlord held a ‘no pets’ policy and did not offer to alter it for a blind tenant with a guide dog.

      Most of the discrimination rules referred to do not usually apply if the landlord is residing in the same property as the tenant. However, the landlord is still forbidden to discriminate because

      1. of a tenants race or sexuality.

      2. de Villiers 6 Jul 2012, 12:53am

        Where a group of gay students together rent a flat from a landlord and one of them wants to leave – where is the landlord discriminating if the students advertise for another gay student to join them?

        And why should a woman who wants to feel safe not advertise for another woman?

        1. It’s perfectly possible for a woman to achieve this through considering applicants without needing to resort to an advert which was in breach of Equality law.

          As for a student flat – if the landlord did not live in then, even those that conceive that live in landlords can discriminate in advertising would agree it would not be appropriate for a non-live in landlord. However, again it is perfectly feasible for a landlord to meet with existing tenants and consider applicants and reach a decision that is beneficial both on business terms and in terms of mutual acceptance of exisiting and new tenants. The advert does not need to breach equality law.

          1. alleged breach Stu, alleged breach. Only a judge can decide if each individual advert breaches the Equality Act or not which depends on how well each person’s solicitors put forward the argument. Just because you percieve it to be illegal and one that lives in the ‘fantasy world’ of academia and study as you put it does not mean that will be the final decision. I have just pointed out inconsistencies which means it probably will not apply – notice i said PROBABLY and not definately.

          2. Apparent breach, James – your arguments may or may not be sustained in court were they to be presented.

  18. It is a twisted notion of equality indeed to demand freedom from being discriminated against by others, while being allowed to discriminate along identical lines ourselves.

    Wanting to get on with the people you are going to live with is perfectly reasonable, but there are better ways of doing it than blanket discrimination against entire categories of human beings. Think about what you’re really looking for: if you’re just worried about living with someone homophobic, advertise in gay-friendly publications and mention in your ad that you’re gay. Chances are that rabid homophobes aren’t going to be reading gay magazines or looking to shack up with a gay roomie, so they will disqualify themselves.

  19. If we continue to have ads such as “gay only” then it is only further segregating the gay community from being accepted by heterosexuals.

    Surely to be accepted and to include homosexuality as part of societies “norm” then we should be actively trying to integrate with others and look beyond a persons sexual orientation.

    And by having ads such as gay only, it creates a message that there is a divide of us and them, which is not the case.

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