A man in his 30s has won a case against a letting agency on grounds of discrimination because he was a recipient of the Housing Assistance Payment (HAP).
The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission welcomed the ruling issued today by the Workplace Relations Commission.
The 32-year-old father who moved to Dublin to secure work had viewed the rental property, agreed a tenancy, signed the agreement and paid a deposit.
However, according to the IHREC, his disclosure that he was using the Housing Assistance Payment resulted in him being "chastised by the letting agent for not disclosing this sooner as the landlord didn't like HAP".
He was subsequently informed by the agent that the landlord had rented the property to someone else.
The man shared custody of his then two-year-old daughter.
It meant having his own accommodation was a priority to allow her stay with him.
The WRC heard that the rejection of his agreed tenancy resulted in emotional trauma causing him to leave his job, suffer increased anxiety, move home and completely withdraw from the world.
His recovery has taken a considerable period according to the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission, which provided him with legal representation in taking his case.
The WRC found that the man had been discriminated against on the grounds of housing assistance, and that the discrimination had an enduring and detrimental effect on his personal life which is contrary to the intention of the HAP scheme.
In 2016, the Equality Act introduced "housing assistance" as a new ground to protect against discrimination in accommodation.
The WRC ordered that the letting agent pay compensation of €8,500 to the man.
It also ordered the agency to immediately equality-proof the application process for its tenancies, to include a standard operating procedure with a chronological documentation of the process to record both parties involvement in the entire process.
The letting agent was ordered to familiarise itself with HAP and the statutory importance of the Equal Status Act.
The WRC ruling also said that the letting agent had not engaged with the WRC investigation process, noting that this amounted to "staggering disrespect for a statutory Tribunal."
In a statement the Chief Commissioner of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission Sinéad Gibney said the first half of 2020 has seen almost 20% of all public queries to our advice line about discrimination in services related to housing.
"It's clear that we are seeing a trend of systemic discrimination against people in receipt of housing assistance payments, which needs to be tackled not only through individual complaints but through additional policy measures."