Discrimination and renting – Information for rental agents and landlords

The Equal Opportunity Act 2010 makes it unlawful to discriminate against someone because of their race, sex, age, disability, marital status, family responsibilities and sexual orientation, among other personal characteristics.

It is unlawful for you to treat applicants unfavourably when they are renting or applying to rent a property because of a personal characteristic (e.g. race, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, or having children) by:

  • refusing or not accepting an application
  • processing an application in a different way
  • offering the property on different terms (e.g. requiring a higher amount for the bond)
  • not making reasonable adjustments for a person with a disability
  • refusing to provide accommodation to a person because they have an assistance dog.

Discrimination against people with disabilities in accommodation

In Victoria, it is against the law to discriminate against someone because of a disability. Disability includes physical, mental or intellectual conditions and may be short term, long term or permanent.

It is against the law for a rental agent or landlord to deny a person a rental property because they have a disability or use an aid such as a wheelchair, crutches, or scooter.

People have a right to make reasonable alterations

If a person with a disability would like to make alterations to the property to accommodate their disability (e.g. handrails or ramps), they have to pay for the alterations themselves. Rental agents and landlords must allow the person to make such alterations to the property provided that:

  • the alterations will not alter the premises of another occupier (i.e impact on a neighbour's property)
  • things can be put back the way they were before the alterations
  • the person agrees to restore the accommodation to its previous state before they leave.

If a tenant has an assistance dog, it is unlawful for you to request that they keep the dog elsewhere, or to require an additional fee.

Are there any excep­tions to the law?

The Equal Oppor­tu­nity Act 2010 includes some excep­tions, which mean that dis­crim­i­na­tion will not be against the law in par­tic­u­lar circumstances.

Pos­i­tive steps can also be taken to help dis­ad­van­taged groups using spe­cial mea­sures, which is not dis­crim­i­na­tion under the law.

If an excep­tion or spe­cial mea­sure does not apply, in some cir­cum­stances an excep­tion from the Act may be sought from the Vic­to­rian Civil and Admin­is­tra­tive Tri­bunal (VCAT).

The Act also includes spe­cific excep­tions in the pro­vi­sion of accom­mo­da­tion where dis­crim­i­na­tion may be permitted.

Addi­tional excep­tions apply in rela­tion to shared accom­mo­da­tion and access to, or use of, pub­lic premises. To avoid doubt about whether an excep­tion might apply, please check the Act or seek fur­ther advice.

Resources

Access general information about using a property manager in Victoria on the Consumer Affairs Victoria website.

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