SpareRoom is firmly committed to equal opportunities - we monitor all ads to make sure they comply with discrimination laws.
The law is slightly different, depending on whether you live in the property or not - if you’ll be living with the person who rents the room, then you are allowed to have certain preferences*.
It’s illegal for anyone renting property in any form to discriminate based on race or nationality.
Landlords and agents
It’s illegal to discriminate against someone if you’re letting a room (or whole property) based on any of these:
- Race (including colour, nationality, ethnic or national origin)
- Gender reassignment
- Pregnancy and maternity
- Religion or belief
- Sexual orientation
If you’re a non-resident landlord or agent you can’t discriminate on any of these grounds. It’s as simple as that.
Age isn’t currently a protected characteristic under law.
Flatmates and people with lodgers
If you live in the property you’re advertising a room in then the law is slightly more flexible. You’re allowed to have a preference on your new flatmate, but still not when it comes to race.
If you are expressing a preference in your ad, please give an explanation. If, for example, your ad says ‘No men’ or ‘Muslims only’ we’ll remove that bit of the ad. If it says ‘We prefer a female flatmate as all the other flatmates are female’ or ‘This is a Halal household, so we’d prefer a Muslim flatmate’, that’s fine as you’ve offered an explanation for your preference.
It’s not just a case of what is and isn’t legal – it’s about treating people as you’d want them to treat you. We’d always prefer you stated the race, gender, sexual orientation (and so on) of the people living in the property, rather than be specific about who you’re looking for.
*Guide dogs are mobility aids, not pets, which means you can't discriminate against someone for having a guide dog, in the same way you can't discriminate against someone because they're in a wheelchair. An existing 'no pet' policy can’t apply to a guide dog.
**This may not be the case if your property accommodates more than 7 people. See here for more info on the small premises exception.