My landlord is very rude towards me – I wonder if he’s racist. What can I do?

Property Clinic: Measures exist to ensure tenants are treated properly and equally

I’m a student renting in Dublin. My landlord is very rude and has even made a few derogatory remarks. I’m not sure if he is just rude or if the remarks are due to my being from another country. It’s upsetting but I also don’t want to have to move as student accommodation is very hard to find. Should I just put up with it or is there anything I can do to address it?

Enda McGuane writes: First of all, I am very sorry to hear that your experience as a tenant here has been negative. The exact nature of your relationship with the landlord is not clear so I'll briefly outline three scenarios that may apply.

Renting from a private landlord: this is a tenancy within the private residential sector and is not student specific. In general, due to shortages of accommodation, these are normally of a minimum of 12 months’ duration. However, after the first six-month probationary period of the tenancy, the tenant secures the right to remain in the property for a further 5½ years and the tenancy is referred to as a “part 4” tenancy.

Student-specific accommodation: also known as purpose-built student accommodation, since July 2021 this has come under the remit of the Residential Tenancies Board (RTB). Tenancies are usually fixed-term based on the academic year with a requirement to give a minimum of 28 days’ notice. However, the tenant does not gain part 4 rights.

Regardless of which of these situations applies to your tenancy, in both instances your tenancy should be registered with the RTB.

Unclear

There is one other scenario that could apply, and this was traditionally known as “digs” but more recently as house sharing, where you are renting a room within a property from the owner or a tenant. In this scenario the normal landlord and tenant laws do not apply, and the tenancy is not registered with the RTB. In this instance the tenant is residing under licence.

It’s unclear from your query what is the exact nature of the comments you have received. From a very broad perspective, the Equal Status Acts (2000-2015) prohibits a landlord from refusing to offer accommodation or from terminating a tenancy on 10 grounds. These are:

1. Gender 2. Marital status 3. Family status 4. Sexual orientation 5. Religious belief 6. Age 7. Disability 8. Race 9. Membership of the Traveller community 10. A landlord cannot discriminate against a person in receipt of rent supplement, housing assistance or any payment under the Social Welfare Acts.

If the comments are not reflected in any of the above you should consider approaching the RTB and seeking to use its mediation services to help make your landlord aware of how you feel and attempt to get an appropriate resolution. Details of the mediation service can be found on rtb.ie.

Of course you may not be comfortable going directly to the RTB or engaging directly with your landlord on this issue. There are a variety of agencies who offer more informal assistance and guidance, including Threshold. The students’ union in the college in which you are studying might also be worth approaching.

Either of these may provide you with an intermediary who can bring about the required change in behaviour. No one should have to tolerate a situation like this so I hope you find this advice useful and that you are able to bring this matter to a satisfactory conclusion.

Enda McGuane is a chartered planning and development surveyor and a member of the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland, www.scsi.ie

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