The Discrimination (Jersey) Law 2013 protects people from discrimination on various grounds, including age. The Discrimination Law covers the buying and renting “disposal” of property.
At present, the Law does not include age discrimination in relation to the disposal or management of premises, under Article 24 of the Law.
This means, as the Law currently stands, a prospective or existing tenant of residential property can be discriminated against by a landlord or the manager of a premises by the fact they have a child or children living with them.
A consultation exercise is now underway to address the issue of the exception of age as a protected characteristic under the Discrimination Law in the disposal and management of premises. The Minister for Social Security proposes that the exception in favour of discrimination on the grounds of age is removed, save in certain clearly defined circumstances.
At Citizens Advice Jersey housing issues constituted a significant number of our caseload and in 2020 we recorded 2,134 client contacts that fell into the housing category and this made housing issues the single biggest area of our work.
The specific issue of children having access to accommodation is something that we do encounter from time to time and while the numbers involved may be relatively low (two or three per month) the impact upon those individuals and families is huge. Particularly if they have already viewed the property and once they decide to go ahead the landlord declines them purely because they have children.
It is encouraging that this issue is being addressed by an amendment to Article 24 within the current Discrimination Law and having read and digested the proposals, I believe that this is a workable solution.
The justifiable defence against a complaint contained in the amendment will solve the problem of forcing unsuitable accommodation being let to families with children and this is something that will ensure the health and safety of children, while still protecting the rights of families to rent or buy appropriate and suitable accommodation.
If this amendment is adopted, discriminating on the grounds of age when advertising a property for sale or rental would also be unlawful.
Citizens Advice Jersey