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Landlord Under Fire For Rejecting Woman Because Of Her Ethnicity

Landlord Under Fire For Rejecting Woman Because Of Her Ethnicity
July 28
11:00 2017

The Fiji Humans Rights and Anti-Discrimination Commission has condemned the alleged action of a landlord in refusing a woman to rent his Nadi flat because of her ethnicity.

Commission director Ashwin Raj deplored the incident, saying discrimination of any kind was against the law of the country.

“The Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Commission strongly condemns acts of racial profiling,” Mr Raj said.

“Preclusion of someone from enjoying the right to housing on the grounds of their race or ethnicity by landlords is discriminatory and contrary to Section 26 of the Constitution.”

The Suva woman was being posted to work in Nadi and her employer was arranging accommodation for her through an agent. The agent claimed the landlord sounded positive at first when approached. But when details of the woman were sent, it was alleged the landlord said she could not be a tenant because of her ethnicity even though the employer would pay for the rent. The landlord could not be reached for comments.

A complaint has been filed with the commission.

Mr Raj said: “The commission encourages members of the public to lodge an official complaint with the commission if they have been denied rental properties by landlords precisely because they are not the preferred ethnic or racial background.

“This also includes other prohibited grounds of discrimination including sexual orientation, gender, identity and expression.”

Consumer Council of Fiji chief executive officer Premila Kumar endorsed Mr Raj’s statement.

She said: “If a person is engaging in a rental business, then their interest should be the rental money they receive from their tenants.

“If a tenant is willing to and able to pay the rental charged by the landlord on the terms and conditions suitable to both of them, then the potential tenants must be given access to the premises on rent.

“It is important that there is a written tenancy agreement setting out specific terms and conditions of the tenancy. This must be signed by both parties and tenants must always keep a copy of the agreement.

“Consumers should not be discriminated against and denied rental premises by the landlords simply because they are of a particular race or ethnic origin.”

Under Section 26(3) (a) of the Constitution, unfairly discriminating a person on the grounds of his or her race, colour, culture or ethnicity is a punishable offence.

Mr Raj deplored the reports, saying discrimination of any kind was against the law in the country.

Edited by Naisa Koroi

Feedback:  jyotip@fijisun.com.fj

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