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Hotels, camping sites and rental properties

Everyone should be able to feel safe and be treated with dignity in their accommodation. Accommodation providers have a legal responsibility to make sure that all staff and everyone who uses their services are treated fairly and with respect.

A man and his dog play together outside their caravan.

How does the law protect me?

Under the Equal Opportunity Act 2010, accommodation providers have a positive duty to eliminate discrimination, sexual harassment, and victimisation as far as possible.

While a person who discriminates against or sexually harasses someone else is primarily responsible for their own behaviour, in some cases the accommodation provider can also be held responsible for the actions of their staff or agents.

Services run by or for the Victorian Government have additional responsibilities under the Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities and more information is available under the For public sector part of our website.

The law protects you from discrimination

It is against the law for the accommodation provider or staff to treat you unfairly because of a protected characteristic that is protected by law, such as your:

  • disability
  • race
  • religion
  • sex
  • sexual orientation.

It is also against the law for you to be refused accommodation because of a protected characteristic – which now includes profession, trade or occupation. For example, you cannot be refused accommodation because you are a sex worker.

What discrimination looks like

In accommodation, discrimination might include:

  • refus­ing to sell or rent a prop­erty to you because of your race
  • pro­cess­ing your appli­ca­tion in a dif­fer­ent way to other appli­ca­tions for the same prop­erty because of your age
  • offering you a prop­erty on dif­fer­ent terms or chang­ing the orig­i­nal terms because of your disability
  • stopping you from access­ing a ben­e­fit or facil­ity that is avail­able to other ten­ants because of your gender identity
  • evict­ing you because of your sexual orientation
  • refusing to sell or rent a property to you because you are a sex worker.

Find out more about discrimination.

An example from our previous work

An owners corporation was found to be discriminating against a resident with a visual impairment and physical disabilities. The resident asked for adjustments to be made to the heavy doors in her building so she would be able to access common areas. The resident argued that these adjustments were reasonable as the owners corporation had a responsibility under the Equal Opportunity Act. After an appeal of VCAT’s decision at the Supreme Court, it was found that the owners corporation had discriminated against the resident and were responsible for making the necessary adjustments to their building. The Commission made a submission into this case and also developed a Guide for Owners Corporations with information about reasonable adjustments and responsibilities under the EOA.

The law protects you from sexual harassment

Sexual harassment is also against the law, whether it is committed by:

  • staff, managers, accommodation providers
  • other residents.

Find out more about sexual harassment.

It is also against the law to victimise a person, which means treat them badly or unfairly, because they have made a complaint about discrimination, sexual harassment or vilification, or have helped someone else to make a complaint.

Disability discrimination in accommodation

It is against the law for landlords, owners corporations or accommodation providers such as hotels and camping sites to treat you unfairly because of your disability.

It is against the law for a rental agent or landlord to deny you a rental property because you have a disability or use an aid such as a wheelchair, crutches, or scooter.

You have a right to make alterations to the rental premises

If you have a dis­ability you can make rea­son­able alter­ations to the accom­mo­da­tion to meet your spe­cial needs if:

  • you as the ten­ant pay for the alterations
  • you as the ten­ant agree to restore the accom­mo­da­tion to its pre­vi­ous state before you leave
  • the alter­ations will not alter the premises of another occu­pier. For exam­ple, a neighbour’s property
  • things can be put back to the way that they were before the alterations.

You can make a complaint

Get help from the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission.

You can make a complaint to us if you think you have experienced:

If you wish, someone else can make a complaint for you. Find out how the Commission helps people resolve complaints.

We can also give you information about your rights.

What we can’t help with

The Commission can’t help you with information about general tenancy rights. See our referrals page for a list of organisations that may be able to help.

What is the positive duty?

Under the Equal Opportunity Act, hotels, camping sites and landlords have a positive duty to prevent and eliminate discrimination, sexual harassment and victimisation as far as possible.

Are there any exceptions to the law?

There are some exceptions in the Equal Opportunity Act that mean it’s not against the law to discriminate in particular circumstances. For example, discrimination is not against the law if there is a real risk to someone’s health, safety or property.

Find out more about exceptions.

My human rights under the Charter

Every Victorian has the right to equal and effective protection against discrimination, and to enjoy their human rights without discrimination.

Victoria’s Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities contains 20 basic rights that promote and protect the values of freedom, respect, equality, and dignity.

The Victorian Government, local councils and other public authorities must always consider Charter rights, including the right to equality, when they create laws, develop policies and deliver their services.

Find out more about your human rights under the Charter and what to do if you think they have been breached.

Discrimination and the law > A guide for owners corporations – Jun 2018

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Level 3, 204 Lygon Street Carlton Victoria 3053

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1300 891 848

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1300 292 153 or (03) 9032 3583

1300 152 494

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The Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission acknowledges that we work on the traditional lands of the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation. We also work remotely and serve communities on the lands of other Traditional Custodians.

We pay our respects to their Elders past and present.