Māori woman denied property by landlord who said he didn't want 'her sort' in his house

Headlines 24/07/2020

A Māori woman says a Christchurch landlord told her he didn't want "her sort" renting his property.

Iwi Kemp had applied for 10 rentals but had no luck - after a friend joked it could be because of her name, Kemp reapplied under the name Maria, NZME reported. 

Three landlords got back to her and one set up a viewing for the next day.

"I asked him whether the house was still available, he said it was," Kemp told NZME.

"I said 'that's funny because when I texted you from my other phone with my real name you said it was gone.'"

Kemp says the man laughed at her before saying he didn't want Māori people in his house.

"He said: 'Yeah well, I just don't want your sort in my house ... You're Māori aren't you? You wreck houses, and have gangs and the drug life.'

She told NZME the call left her upset and confused.

"It was kind of disheartening and like a massive slap in the face. He hadn't even met me and just made that judgement based on my name."

"I'm not in a gang and I don't make drugs. I've got a really good job and good tenant references - so he's missing out, really."

The Residential Tenancies Act makes it unlawful for anyone to discriminate against potential tenants when deciding whether to grant, continue, change, or end a tenancy. 

It is illegal for landlords to treat potential tenants differently based on race, colour, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation and disability. 

Anyone who suspects they have been treated unlawfully by a landlord or potential landlord can contact either the Human Rights Commission (HRC) or make an application to the Tenancy Tribunal.

It is important to seek advice from both the HRC and the Tribunal before lodging a complaint, as once a tenant has applied to one, they cannot apply to the other. 

Landlords may contact both if they want to check their decisions are lawful.