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