The Workplace Relations Commission has ordered an estate agent to pay €1,500 to man on rent allowance after he refused to allow the man to view an apartment for rent.  The WRC made the award under the Equal Status Act after the estate agent told the man “no rent allowance accepted” when the man inquired about viewing the apartment. The claimant argued that the estate agent’s policy constituted discrimination on the housing assistance ground. The WRC agreed the claimant was discriminated against and has ordered the estate agent to pay him €1,500. In response to the ruling, director of advocacy with Focus Ireland, Mike Allen said: “This finding by the WRC and the fine imposed are very welcome and will help to highlight to landlords and agents that is illegal to discriminate in this way. It should also give accommodation seekers confidence in challenging this discrimination.”

The estate agent claimed that the landlord had told him he would not be able to obtain insurance if he accepted a tenant on rent allowance, as the insurance company would not accept rent allowance as valid income and hence not cover the landlord for loss of rent. The estate agent also said that he felt obliged to act on the landlord’s instructions as, in his words, “he’s the one paying me”.

Chief executive of the Institute of Professional Auctioneers and Valuers Pat Davitt has said “I wouldn’t condone this behaviour and our advice to members that if a landlord wants to discriminate against people on rent allowance, don’t take on the apartment to rent. It is discrimination.”