Earlier this week, the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) ordered Daft.ie to block discriminatory adverts on its website. This significant decision follows a case taken by the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission (IHREC) on foot of a series of complaints that landlords are overtly discriminating against potential tenants on the basis of family status, age and, crucially, on the grounds of receiving rent allowance.
The WRC went further than ordering Daft.ie to block offending property listings, it also instructed the property portal to design or develop a “methodology to identify, monitor and block discriminatory advertising” on the portal. Effectively, this means property listings containing a term and or phrase that appears on the list of prohibited terms and phrases provided to Daft.ie by the IHREC can no longer be published on the website.
The WRC finding is very clear. Three sample live/published rental listings breached the Equal Status Act on the grounds of family status, age and on the grounds of rent allowance. Furthermore, the WRC explicitly ruled that Daft Media Ltd has “vicarious liability” for any third party advertisements or listings on its website.
While a term like ‘rent allowance not accepted’, is clearly a breach, the IHREC maintained that commonly-used terms like ‘would suit family’ or ‘professionals only’ also breach the Equal Status Acts. Significantly, the term ‘references required’ was put forward as a term that breaches current equality legislation, which might be construed as unfair to landlords and, indeed, to letting agents trying to find the best tenant for their client. Professional landlords here might recall that the filter/tick box for rent allowance, which previously allowed landlords to screen out recipients, was removed by Daft.ie back in 2015.
By way of response, a spokesperson for Daft.ie advised that property listings currently live on the website containing any of the terms or phrases mentioned above are “in a queue” pending a manual review.
Just this morning, TheJournal.ie ran a news story confirming that ‘Discriminatory phrases’ still up in property ads despite ruling’. The news report refers to live property listings with the now-banned phrases ‘professionals only’ and ‘suitable for one mature lady’. In fact, they highlighted one particular listing where the landlord is seeking a CV/resume.
Daft.ie has now issued a series of guidelines for their advertisers, as has Myhome.ie (although MyHome.ie only publishes property listings from approved estate agents). This is an important change for landlords to take note of (ignorance of the law is no excuse!); as always, we would be interested to hear your reaction to this.
Director / Business Development
Lotus Investment Group