Following denying a family the opportunity pay a percentage of their rent through rent allowance for a 15-month period, a landlord has been ordered to pay them €14,000 in compensation.
Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) adjudication officer Ewa Sobanska issued a ruling stating that the landlord must pay €7,000 to each parent as she found the discrimination “to be at the more serious end of the scale”. She added that she was awarding the compensation after taking into account the financial suffering, stress, inconvenience and financial and emotional pressures sustained by the married couple due to the landlord’s refusal to participate in the Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) scheme.
The married couple had initially asked the landlord to allow them pay rent allowance through HAP in May 2017. Hap is a scheme where landlords must register to allow their tenants participate. However, the couple have alleged that in March 2018 they received a letter from their landlord with the words “there is your HAP” written on the envelope. Upon opening it they discovered that it was an eviction letter.
The couple had agreed to a long-term rent deal of €950 monthly in December 2015 with the landlord.
The couple – who have four children aged 13, nine, six and two – were having difficulty is paying the rent and asked the landlord in May 2017 about availing of HAP and he replied: “We can talk but it’s most unlikely that I will be doing HAP.”
Following this, in January 2017, the couple sent on to the landlord correspondence from the agency Threshold advising that “a landlord must accept HAP and to refuse this is considered discrimination”.
After the ‘termination’ letter that the landlord sent in March 2017, he (the landlord) wrote to the couple to inform them that he did not refuse to facilitate the HAP assistance application but could not do so due to not having a Tax Clearance Certificate. He further stated that he had been making attempts to address this and the request for HAP assistance “has absolutely nothing to do with ending your tenancy”.
The landlord has been given 42 days in which to make the €14,000 compensation payment to the couple in question.