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.
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:
- 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.