When everyone has a home

Housing advice for Northern Ireland

Equality and housing

Equality and anti discrimination legislation applies to housing as well as other services.  If you feel your housing provider has discriminated against you talk to someone from Housing Rights or the Equality Commission.


If you’ve been treated differently because of something like your gender, race or sexual orientation you may have been a victim of discrimination. 

Being refused a property because you’re a gay couple or being asked to pay additional application fees because you’re not from Northern Ireland are both examples of illegal discrimination. 

Equality and anti-discrimination legislation can only protect you from discrimination on certain grounds.  There are particular pieces of legislation that protect you from discrimination on grounds of

  • Sex; Pregnancy or maternity leave;
  • Gender reassignment;
  • Being married or in a civil partnership;
  • Religious belief or political opinion;
  • Race, colour, nationality, ethnic or national origins, being an Irish Traveller;
  • Disability;
  • Sexual orientation

Section 75 of the Northern Ireland Act requires that public authorities have to give due regard to the need to promote equality of opportunity between

  • persons of different religious belief; political opinion; racial group; age; marital status; sexual orientation; and
  • between men and women generally; and
  • between persons with a disability and persons without; and
  • between persons with dependants and persons without.

When making decisions public authorities also need to give due regard to promoting good relations between persons of different religious belief, political opinion and racial group.

The Northern Ireland Act only applies to government departments, agencies and local councils. It does not apply to individuals or private companies.

The law on discrimination

Housing providers must treat people fairly and must not discriminate.  Public bodies, like the Housing Executive are subject to more equality legislation than individuals and private companies.

Some forms of discrimination are allowed; a Women’s Refuge can legally refuse accommodation to a man. The key pieces of legislation which deal with equality and housing in Northern Ireland are:

  • the Disability Discrimination Act 1995, as amended
  • the Race Relations (NI) Order 1997, as amended
  • the Equality Act (Sexual Orientation) Regulations (NI) 2006
  • the Fair Employment and Treatment (NI) Order 1998
  • the Sex Discrimination Order 1976, as amended and
  • Section 75 of the Northern Ireland Act 1975.

Equality legislation and housing problems

This legislation may be able to help you if you’ve been discriminated against.  If you feel you’ve been a victim of discrimination talk to staff at the Equality Commission, Housing Rights or another advice agency.  The advice agency may be able to use this legislation to help solve your housing problem.