Factsheet 17: Discrimination
As a tenant in NSW you have rights under the NSW Anti-Discrimination Act 1977 and federal anti-discrimination laws. This factsheet explains the law in NSW about discrimination and renting.
Discrimination means treating someone unfairly because they belong to a particular group of people.
Discrimination can take many forms, including harassing or treating people unfairly on the basis of their:
Sexual harassment is where a person makes unwelcome sexual advances or requests to another, or unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature in a situation where such behaviour is likely to intimidate, humiliate or offend.
These types of discrimination and sexual harassment are prohibited under the following laws:
It is against the law to discriminate against people for any of the above reasons but only in certain circumstances. It is unlawful for a landlord or real estate agent to discriminate against you:
Whether it is unlawful to discriminate in shared accommodation depends on the type of discrimination and whether you are living with the owner or their close relative and how many people you are sharing with.
Under the Racial Discrimination Act 1975, an act is not unlawful in relation to accommodation if sharing with the owner or their close relative.
Under the Sex Discrimination Act 1984 and the Disability Discrimination Act 1992, an act is not unlawful in relation to accommodation:
Under the Anti-Discrimination Act 1977, an act is not unlawful:
It is not unlawful to discriminate if the accommodation is designed to meet the needs of particular groups (e.g. women, older persons, youth).
If you believe you have been discriminated against, you can make a complaint to the Anti–Discrimination Board of NSW (ADB) or the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC).
You have 6 months to make a complaint to the ADB and 12 months to make a complaint to AHRC. Contact the ADB or AHRC for up-to-date advice about how to make a complaint and the time it will take to sort it out.
ADB staff can help to put your complaint in writing. The ADB can also deal with complaints urgently, if necessary.
You can also contact your local or a specialist Community Legal Centre for legal advice.
Written complaints to the ADB are investigated by a conciliation officer. They may ask you for more written information, or talk to you by phone or in person. They will ask the landlord or real estate agent to respond to your complaint.
If the ADB finds that you have been discriminated against, there will be a conciliation conference where both sides meet with the conciliation officer to try to work out a solution to the complaint. This may include a written apology and/or compensation.
If you cannot come to an agreement, the matter may be referred to the Administrative and Equal Opportunity Division of the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NCAT) for more formal proceedings.
AHRC has a similar process. If you cannot come to an agreement, the matter may go to the Federal Magistrates Court for more formal proceedings.
Tenancy proceedings of the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal do not take unlawful discrimination into account.
Centres specialising in discrimination law:
Updated August 2016
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The information in this factsheet:
• is intended as guide to the law and should not be used as a substitute for legal advice
• applies to people who live in, or are affected by, the law as it applies in New South Wales, Australia.
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