Group of Students Denied Tenancy because of Gender

A group of 4 boys have been told this week that they will be unable to move into the house they singed for December 31, some ten weeks ago, claiming that this is based on their gender.

The boys, all second–year students at the University of Kent, were contacted by their estate agent, Caxtons, February 6 to tell them their tenancy application had been withdrawn. Caxtons informed them in this email that the reason for this withdrawal was that the landlord had: ‘had a group of boys in the past who did not respect or look after the property, and [the property] had to be completely redecorated and refurnished’. The email also stated: ‘because of this, the landlord has decided they would rather four girls, or a mixed group (girls and boys) to rent the house’.

Daniel Williams, one of the students who was supposed to be moving into the house next year, said: “we were told we had basically secured the house. We were all very happy, as we were looking forward to living together finally”.

On the reason given by the landlord, Williams commented: “we were all offended and disgusted by the generalisation, and the fact it took 10 weeks to be confirmed; in the last ten weeks we could have found a better place, now it’s going to be much more difficult”.

Unfortunately, this is not an uncommon issue in student populations, with another student telling InQuire they had the same problem last year and that in the end they searched for a female housemate, simply to meet the landlord’s demands.

Whilst landlords may prefer female only tenants, such discrimination is potentially against the law. The Equality Act of 2010 states that it is ‘unlawful for a person who has the authority to dispose of premises (by selling, letting or sub-letting a property) to discriminate against or victimise someone else in a number of ways including by offering the premises to them on less favourable terms; by not letting or selling the premises to them or by treating them less favourably’.

Unfortunately, since the boys had only signed a preliminary contract, the landlord was able to overturn their potential tenancy without repercussions.

Caxtons have been working with the students to negate the landlord’s decision, attempting to appeal it three times. Williams was quick to state that the estate agents have been very supportive in this difficult situation, and they are working with them to secure another property as soon as they can. Caxton’s have offered the boys a £100 refund on their admin fees if they sign for another of their properties, or a full refund should they choose to sign elsewhere.

The stress of the situation, has had a negative impact of the students’ coursework, with Williams saying: ‘searching for a new property has made mine [and the other student’s who signed for the house]’s assignments very delayed’.

The four- bed property, in a prime location between the university and Canterbury West station, has since been relisted on Caxton’s website, with no mention of the landlord’s wishes for a mixed or all female group.