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Landlord ordered to pay 80-year-old tenant €12,000 compensation

Man says he was never in rent arrears and could not understand why landlord would not sign HAP form

The man took a discrimination case under the Equal Status Act against his landlord

A landlord has been ordered to pay an 80-year-old tenant €12,000 compensation over the landlord’s refusal to facilitate the man making housing assistance payments (HAP) in his rent over a number of months.

In making the award, Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) Adjudication Officer, Marian Duffy said the man was “very fearful of losing his apartment and becoming homeless and this was causing him unbearable stress and worry”.

Ms Duffy stated: “It is understandable that the fear of becoming homeless during a housing crisis would be particularly stressful and worrying for him.”

In response to the man taking a discrimination case under the Equal Status Act against his landlord, Ms Duffy found that the discrimination in the case “is at the higher end of the scale and requires commensurate redress”.

The maximum award in such cases is €15,000.

Ms Duffy stated that the man urgently required access to HAP as he was in financial hardship.

She stated that this was due to his only source of income being his social welfare pension of €240 per week and his rent was €900 per month, made up of €850 rent and a €50 service charge per month.

Ms Duffy stated that the man missed out on at least six months HAP payments and that he had to pay extra rent in advance in January and still had not received the HAP payment at the date of the hearing.

The man told the hearing he was never in arrears with the rent and he could not understand why the landlord would not sign the relevant form to allow him qualify for HAP.

The man was represented by housing charity Threshold in the case and Ms Duffy found he landlord’s ongoing refusal to complete the HAP application form and provide the relevant documentation to the local authority amounts to less favourable treatment to the man under the Equal Status Act on the housing assistance ground.

Ms Duffy stated the landlord’s refusal to sign the HAP scheme form had the direct effect of placing the man in a very difficult financial situation and placing the tenancy in jeopardy.

Ms Duffy also ordered the landlord to draw up an equality policy concerning HAP and should make the policy available to staff and tenants and ensure staff are fully trained in all aspects of the policy.

The landlord denied discrimination against the the man in relation to the HAP payments and that its representative never refused to sign the forms.