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PainSmith Solicitors Legal Update - 24th October 2006 - Code of Practice on Racial Equality in Housing

The Code of Practice on Racial Equality in Housing was brought into force on 1 October 2006 by The Race Relations Code of Practice Housing) Appointed Day) Order 2006 Si 2006/2239). The Code replaces two previous codes of practice; the Code of Practice in Rented Housing and the Code of Practice in Non-Rented Owner Occupied) Housing. There are three separate Codes for England, Wales and Scotland although all three are very similar.

Northern Ireland has its own independent racial equality legislation and is therefore not covered by the Codes. The Codes apply to anyone involved in he provision of Housing from Local Authorities to small private landlords.

The Codes represent 'best practice' and, while they are not an authoritative statement on the law, it has been approved by Parliament and so must be taken into account by the Courts when deciding cases based on racial equality issues. It will therefore assist in the defence of anyone accused of racial discrimination to show that hey have followed the recommendations and procedures laid out by the Codes.

The level of compliance required should be viewed proportionally. A private landlord letting one property will not be expected to demonstrate adherence to all the procedures in the Codes in the same manner as a large housing organisation might be but they will be expected to demonstrate that they have endeavoured to follow the spirit and intent of the Codes.

It should not be necessary to lay out what constitutes racial discrimination. However, it should be remembered that any form of discrimination on the basis of race or nationality is a breach of the Race Relations Act, whether direct refusal of Australian tenants) or indirect failing to supply details of properties to a white tenant as they are in an 'Asian area'). This will also apply to the provision of services, which must be provided equally across the community. Racial harassment or abuse is also a breach of the RRA. It would also be discriminatory to impose different letting terms increased deposit , for example) on he grounds of race or nationality.

While the Codes are primarily aimed at social landlords it would be useful for agents to look through the areas of good practice laid out in Chapter 3 to ensure that their procedures are compliant . In general terms, as long as information is provided equally to all enquirers and letting decisions are not made with racial issues in mind here should be no problem.

The three Codes are published by the Commission for Racial Equality and are available from their website (www.cre.gov.uk).

Dr David Smith is a trainee solicitor with PainSmith Solicitors, a niche practice specialising in residential landlord and tenant law. He can be contacted on 01420 565310 or by email at david@painsmith.co.uk. If you wish to subscribe to the free legal updates service then you should email update@painsmith.co.uk with the phrase "subscribe updates" in the subject of the email.

PainSmith Solicitors Legal Updates are provided for information only and are not legal advice. If you do have a legal problem, you should talk to a lawyer or adviser before making a decision about what to do. You may wish to use the CLS/CDS Directory (www.justask.org.uk/public/en/directory) to locate an adviser. The information provided here is written for people resident in, or affected by, the laws of England and Wales only. You should note that date given in the update and be aware that the information given may become inaccurate due to changes in the law or its implementation.

PainSmith Solicitors

Information supplied by PainSmith Solicitors who are a niche practice specialising in Landlord and Tenant Law. Based in Medstead in Hampshire, they are ideally situated to provide an efficient service to clients nationwide as well as those based in Central London and the Home Counties.

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