Housing Discrimination Solicitors

Hodge Jones & Allen hold a legal aid contract to advise those who have been discriminated against in housing matters. Discrimination means treating a person less favourably because of who they are.

Our experienced team of specialist solicitors will help you to fight for justice and achieve the outcome you deserve. We work closely with charities as well as with individuals and their families who have been affected by discrimination.

Are you protected by the law?

The Equality Act 2010 protects you against discrimination by many different organisations and individuals. This includes landlords and other housing providers, public bodies like government departments and local authorities, businesses and organisations providing goods or services such as estate agents and building contractors, for example.

It is against the law if they discriminate against anyone because of:

  • age
  • gender reassignment
  • being married or in a civil partnership
  • being pregnant or on maternity leave
  • disability
  • race including colour, nationality, ethnic or national origin
  • religion or belief
  • sex
  • sexual orientation

These are called protected characteristics. It is also against the law for anyone to discriminate against you because:

  • they think you have a protected characteristic and you do not
  • you are associated with someone who has a protected characteristic, for example a family member or friend
  • you have complained about discrimination or supported someone else’s claim of discrimination

Hodge Jones & Allen also use the Human Rights Act 1998 to challenge discrimination not covered by the Equality Act, where this involves a breach of your rights under the European Convention on Human Rights.

What counts as discrimination?

Discrimination can take a number of forms:

  • Direct discrimination

This is treating someone with a protected characteristic less favourably than another person without that particular protected characteristic.

  • Indirect discrimination

This is putting rules or arrangements in place that apply to everyone, but that put someone with a protected characteristic at an unfair disadvantage.

  • Harassment

This is unwanted behaviour linked to a protected characteristic.

  • Victimisation

This is treating someone unfairly because they’ve complained about discrimination or harassment

Examples and common scenarios of discrimination in relation to housing

Our friendly and approachable team are experienced in bringing claims (and counterclaims) and making sure that you’re treated fairly. Some examples of the cases we have successfully handled include:

  • Welfare Challenges

A request for a reasonable adjustment on behalf of a tenant being evicted for rent arrears, who could not manage her finances due to a mental health condition, to have the arrears paid directly from their Income Support.

A challenge against the Department of Work and Pensions of the unreasonable delay in processing our client’s Personal Independence Payments (PIP), and so saving them from the benefit cap that was causing them rent arrears.

A challenge against a local housing authority for their failure to make a decision on a tenant’s Housing Benefit claim.

  • Disability Challenges

A request for a reasonable adjustment on behalf of a partially sighted client to have all written correspondence in large font.

Defending possession and injunction claims against tenants on grounds of alleged anti-social behaviour, where the behaviour was caused by the tenants’ disability.

A challenge to an allocations policy that discriminated against disabled people who required an adapted property.

  • Gender Challenges

A challenge to a local housing authority for placing a transgender female in all-male accommodation with shared showering facilities.

What can Hodge Jones & Allen help you achieve?

We will ask what you want to achieve, depending on your case it may be possible to achieve the following:

  • A reasonable adjustment:

For example, we once represented a tenant who was deaf and her son who was blind. We sought for there to be two different types of doorbells fitted– one audio and one visual to make it easier for them to live in the property.

The adjustment must be reasonable, as such you could not ask your landlord to start making structural changes to a property, for example widening doorways for a wheelchair, but it would be reasonable to ask for a non-fixed ramp to a front door to allow wheelchair access.

  • Changes to a policy or practice that will stop the problem happening again, or happening to someone else:

For example, we might obtain changes to a local authority’s housing allocation scheme to make it fairer, not only for you but for other people who face the same challenges that you do.

  • An apology:

Many of our clients simply want the discrimination to be acknowledged and to receive an apology.

  • For the discrimination to stop:

This is of course going to be a priority if the discrimination is ongoing.

  • Compensation:

Compensation might be available if you have been distressed or upset or have lost money as a result of the discrimination.

Housing discrimination compensation

In a claim for discrimination related to housing you might be able to get compensation for:

  • Any money you have lost because of the discrimination, known as ‘financial losses’.

Examples are the cost of temporary accommodation, storage costs, removal costs, lost wages if you had to take time off work, the cost of replacing any damaged items, etc. Make sure that you keep receipts or invoices for any extra expenses as you will need these as evidence.

  • The emotional impact of the discrimination, such as hurt or distress, known as ‘injury to feelings’.
  • A personal injury such as depression or a physical injury, caused by the discrimination.
  • Any exceptionally bad behaviour from the other side, which has aggravated the impact the discrimination has had on you. This is known as ‘aggravated damages’.

You will need to show that you have tried to minimise your financial losses, known as ‘mitigating your losses’. You could do this by showing, for example, that you found alternative accommodation or went to stay with friends or family.

Frequently asked questions

Are there time limits for making a claim in the county court?

Yes there are strict time limits and a claim must be brought within 6 months less one day of the act you’re complaining about. The court can allow a claim outside the time limits, but only if it considers it just and equitable to do so. It is therefore very important to seek legal advice as soon as you can so that you are not prevented from bringing your claim.

How do I calculate the time limit if the discrimination keeps happening?

If it is a continuing act then the time only begins to run when the last act is completed. If you are in any doubt, you should seek legal advice as soon as possible.

Is there anything else I can do instead of making a claim?

Yes you could complain directly to the person or organisation or look at alternatives such as mediation.

Do I need to tell my landlord I am going to make a claim for discrimination against them?

Yes the court will expect you to send your landlord a letter of claim and allow your landlord to respond before you issue a claim. You might well be able to resolve the matter at this stage.

Our leading housing solicitors in London will deal with your case sympathetically and will fight for justice, ensuring that you get the best possible outcome. Speak to one of our expert lawyers on 0808 231 6369 or request a call back via our online form.

 

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Our offices are open from Monday to Friday from 9 am to 6 pm.

Phone:0808 231 6369
Fax:020 7388 2106
Address:Hodge Jones & Allen Solicitors
180 North Gower Street
London
NW1 2NB
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