Some 17% of all complaints against estate agents last year handled by The Property Ombudsman were related to discrimination against customers, it has been revealed.
TPO says the two clauses within its Code of Conduct relating to discrimination were involved in 881 complaints against estate agents during 2019.
These two clauses relate to discrimination based on someone’s race, religion/beliefs, sex, sexual orientation, gender recognition, disability, pregnancy/maternity, nationality, age, infirmity, lack of knowledge, lack of linguistic or numeracy ability, economic circumstances, bereavement or English language skills.
TPO says unlawful discrimination includes giving someone less favourable treatment because they are perceived to have one of these personal characteristics or because they are associated with a person with such a characteristic.
The shocking figures have been released by TPO following the recent victories – in separate cases – for two tenants who had been denied the chance to rent a property by a letting agent because they were in receipt of benefits.
“Whilst rental properties are investments for landlords, they are homes for tenants,” says Property Ombudsman Katrine Sporle.
“To be excluded from a significant portion of the homes available simply because you are in receipt of Housing Benefits cannot be considered as treating consumers equally.
“Tenants’ perceptions that they have been unfairly discriminated against underpin the significant number of the complaints received. TPO agrees that adverts which discriminate against would-be tenants in receipt of Housing Benefit should end.
“Ensuring no one is excluded from applying for the home of their choice will go some way to reducing these complaints.”