DISCRIMINATION IN PROPERTY TRANSACTIONS



The Law of South Africa prohibits discrimination in because of:
  • Race or Colour
  • National origin
  • Religion
  • Sex
  • Familial status 
  • Handicap (Disability)
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In the Sale and Rental of Housing: No one may take any of the following actions based on colour, national origin, religion, sex, familial status or handicap:
  • Refuse to rent or sell housing
  • Refuse to negotiate for housing
  • Make housing unavailable
  • Deny a dwelling
  • Set different terms, conditions or privileges for sale or rental of a dwelling
  • Provide different housing services or facilities
  • Falsely deny that housing is available for inspection, sale, or rental
  • For profit, persuade owners to sell or rent (blockbusting) or
  • Deny anyone access to or membership in a facility or service (such as a multiple listing service) related to the sale or rental of housing
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In Addition: It is illegal for anyone to:
  • Threaten, coerce, intimidate or interfere with anyone exercising their rights or assisting others who exercise that right
  • Advertise or make any statement that indicates a limitation or preference based on color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status, or handicap.
  • It will be interesting to see the full application of discriminatory laws playing out In South Africa, as many adverts for instance for shared accommodation would state clearly that the applicant is to be female. Or garden flatlet adverts specifying single people only. Newspapers themselves have however, denied adverts for “Christian” flatmates.
  • Additionally, if you have a physical or mental disability (including hearing, mobility and visual impairments) that substantially limits one or more major life activities and have a record of such a disability, your landlord may not, within reason;
  • Refuse to let you make reasonable modifications to your dwelling or common use areas, at your expense, if necessary for the disabled person to use the housing. (Where reasonable, the landlord may permit changes only if you agree to restore the property to its original condition when you move.)
  • Refuse to make reasonable accommodations in rules, policies, practices or services if necessary for the disabled person to use the housing.
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Example: A building with a "no pets" policy must allow a visually impaired tenant to keep a guide dog.

Example
: An apartment complex that offers tenants ample, unassigned parking must honour a request from a mobility-impaired tenant for a reserved space near her apartment if necessary to assure that she can have access to her apartment.


Example: Housing need not be made available to a person who is a direct threat to the health or safety of others or who currently uses illegal drugs etc.

Example: A black home owner refusing to let their home to an Afrikaans speaking family because under old Apartheid laws the reverse applied, would be illegal.

It will be interesting to see the full application of discriminatory laws playing out In South Africa, as many adverts for instance for shared accommodation would state clearly that the applicant is to be female. Or garden flatlet adverts specifying single people only. Newspapers themselves have however, denied adverts for “Christian” flatmates.

Our opinion is that with shared accomodation, one may be selective in terms of religion, male or female, or even language as these issues directly affect the living environment but would not be able to justify discrimination based on colour. If however an entire home is being let, none of these issues affect the property owner and would not be able to be justified.

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Requirements for New Buildings
 
Investors and property owners need to be aware that legislation is constantly developing and changing in order to fully accommodate the disabled and they must bear this in mind for buildings that have an elevator and/or multiple units:
  • Public and common areas must be accessible to persons with disabilities
  • Doors and hallways must be wide enough for wheelchairs
  • An accessible route into and through the unit
  • Accessible light switches, electrical outlets, thermostats and other environmental controls
  • Reinforced bathroom walls to allow later installation of grab bars and
  • Kitchens and bathrooms that can be used by people in wheelchairs.
Early attempts at not just complying but being pro-active will ensure full compliance as legislation is developed and introduced.

If you feel you have been unfairly discriminated against or are unsure about a particular situation, why not give us a call and we will try and assist you in addressing the issue.


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