A LibVan MHK claims the new Equality Bill will allow landlords to discriminate against would-be tenants just because of their age.
Ramsey MHK Lawrie Hooper tabled an amendment to prevent what he called ’blanket discrimination’ being included in the Bill but it was defeated in the House of Keys by 19 votes to four.
Afterwards he tweeted: ’The House of Keys just voted to allow discrimination based on age when renting property as part of the Equality Bill.
’This means it will be legal for a landlord to treat you unfairly because of age.’
Proposing his amendment, Mr Hooper told MHKs: ’The clause, as currently drafted, would allow a landlord or an agent managing a property to discriminate against a person solely because of their age. Simply put, I do not think that is appropriate.
’I cannot really find a single argument in favour of allowing this blanket discrimination to be included in the Bill.’
He explained his concerns were twofold - a landlord could refuse to let a property to an older person and they could decide to refuse to let to a younger person.
’So, as currently drafted, this Bill would allow a landlord or an agent to state: "I refuse to rent my properties to anybody under the age of 25". I cannot see any justifiable reason for that.’
But Policy and Reform Minister Chris Thomas MHK urged members to reject the amendment.
He told them: ’There might have been some merit - and there might one day be some merit - in what Mr Hooper is talking about, but I want to speak strongly against accepting that amendment today.’
Mr Thomas said the issue was not raised in the consultation responses and that it would be wrong to make an amendment ’on the hoof’ which might have very serious implications.
He said such an amendment could be included in a forthcoming Tenancy Bill or Housing Bill.
’If it is an issue in the island - an issue that was not actually raised in the consultation that had responses to it - it will come up again and it can be dealt with properly in another place after proper consultation,’ he said.