ADJUDICATION OFFICER DECISION
Adjudication Reference: ADJ-00023545
Complaint/Dispute Reference No.
Date of Receipt
Complaint seeking adjudication by the Workplace Relations Commission under Section 21 Equal Status Act, 2000
Date of Adjudication Hearing: 26/11/2019
Workplace Relations Commission Adjudication Officer: Eugene Hanly
In accordance with Section 25 of the Equal Status Act, 2000following the referral of the complaint to me by the Director General, I inquired into the complaint and gave the parties an opportunity to be heard by me and to present to me any evidence relevant to the complaint.
The Complainant has claimed that he was discriminated against by the Respondent who refused to sign a HAP application form. The Respondent has rejected this claim.
Request for anonymisation
At the hearing the Respondent requested that the decision be anonymised. He presented personal details to the hearing in support of his request. I have considered this request and accede on the basis that compelling reasons were presented to this hearing that the decision should be anonymised.
Summary of Complainant’s Case:
He stated that he was born with a foot defect. Around August 2018 his health deteriorated. In December 2018 his wife’s employment ceased with closure of the company that she worked in. The couple and their children that were sharing this property told them that they were leaving in January 2019. He was worried that he was unable to make the rental payments. He sought HAP approval. He asked the estate agency that he had dealt with to contact the Landlord. The agency scanned the HAP application form and undertook to give it to the Landlord. After two or three days he contacted the agency enquiring if they had a reply from the Landlord. He tried contacting the Landlord on 11th, 13th, 14th, 15th, 16th and 18th January but got no reply. On 12th February he sent the Landlord an email about the HAP application, but he got no reply. On 15th February he sent a text to the Landlord asking when they would get back the HAP form. He got no reply. He consulted Threshold and they advised him to send an email to the Landlord and give him to 18th February to reply. He got a response from the Landlord on 18th February asking to put a copy of the HAP application form in the security hut. He queried the Landlord’s phone number. He requested that the Landlord to complete the HAP form by 22nd February 2019 and pointed out that it was three weeks since they got the agency to forward it to the Landlord. The Landlord pointed out that the lease contract does not allow subletting. He again asked for all the HAP forms to be given to him, despite that fact that they had been given by the agency and then left at the security hut. He gave the Landlord until 25th to reply. The Landlord then responded that the 25th was too tight a deadline, stating that he had to get documentation ready. He had 25 days since the forms were given to him by the agency. He then requested the Landlord to tell him if he is not going to sign the HAP form or if he is going to sell the property to get his solicitor to confirm this. On 26th February 2019 he received a notice of termination from the Landlord. The landlord stated that he wanted the property for his own use. He had previously asked to have the property valued as he contemplated selling it. This shows that he was being deceptive with the Complainant. The Complainant eventually left the property on 17th May 2019. The landlord has not moved into the property, so he did not want it for his own usage. He believes that the Landlord discriminated against him by refusing to sign the form. He has sought compensation.
Summary of Respondent’s Case:
The Respondent Landlord stated that he had family issues resulting in separation from his wife. He had to have the property valued. He had to live with family and friends as a result of the separation. He needed this property for himself. Because of the difficulties with the separation, he wasn’t exactly sure when he needed certain things to be done by. The tenants were good people. He has HAP paying tenants in the past. He explained why he had not responded to the emails and phone calls, he stated that he has an illness that required him to be in bed resting. He has two jobs and two phones. He didn’t always deal the emails and phone calls. He was unsure about telling the tenants about his need to move in himself. He had a concern that if he filled out the HAP form then he would be committed to them for two years. The most economical thing to do was for him to move into the property himself. He is not a discriminatory person. He moved into the property on 22nd /23rd May. He spends about 4/5 nights a week there. On the other days he stays with his elderly parents up the country. He stated that he contacted Threshold and HAP. HAP were very helpful to him. He had no evidence of dealing with HAP. He was unsure what his options were, so he delayed. He has rejected the claim that he discriminated against the Complainant.
Findings and Conclusions:
I note the conflicting positions of both parties.
I find that the agency agreed to scan and forward a copy of the HAP form to the Landlord for signing.
I find that the Landlord did not respond to this.
I note that the Complainant alleges that he made numerous telephone calls to the Landlord and none of them were replied to.
I do not find his explanation convincing that he was ill and so unable to respond. This also applied to emails.
I find that the landlord had not provided a formal address.
I find that the Landlord only responded when the Complainant gave him a deadline as advised by Threshold.
I did not find the Landlord’s explanation about his telephone numbers to be convincing.
I find that the Landlord was evasive throughout matter.
I find that he gave evidence that he has other properties but with this tenant there was no address, no contact numbers working, no emails working, apparent denial that he received the HAP application form from the agency and later from the security hut.
I note the conflict of evidence regarding whether the Landlord had moved into this property.
I find the evidence of the Complainant more compelling in this matter.
I appreciate that the Complainant may have had some personal issues, but they do not excuse the manner in which this tenant was treated.
On the balance of probability, I find that the Landlord refused to sign the HAP application form and in doing so he discriminated against the Complainant.
Section 25 of the Equal Status Acts, 2000 – 2015 requires that I make a decision in relation to the complaint in accordance with the relevant redress provisions under section 27 of that Act.
I have decided, based on the above findings, that the Landlord has discriminated against the Complainant.
I have decided that this complaint is well founded.
I order that the Landlord should pay the Complainant €4,000 in compensation.
Dated: 7th February 2020
Workplace Relations Commission Adjudication Officer: Eugene Hanly
Alleged discrimination in refusing to accept HAP application