Dealing with disability discrimination
This page looks at what you can do if your landlord, mortgage lender or other service provider is discriminating against you. You may be able to negotiate with them yourself, take your case to the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) or take the case to court.
Raise the issue with the service provider
It's important to raise the issue with your service provider first. Your landlord, letting agent, mortgage lender or estate agent may not realise they have broken the law by discriminating against you, or they may have misunderstood your needs. You should raise the issue either in person or in writing, before taking further action. Point out that discrimination against disabled people is against the law, and that service providers have a legal duty to make reasonable adjustments to their service. Once they realise how seriously you take the matter, they may be persuaded to adjust their service to make it more accessible.
If the person who has discriminated against you is a member of a professional organisation, you can also make a complaint to that association. For example:
private landlords may be a member of Landlord Accreditation Scotland or a local landlord accreditation scheme
estate agents may be a member of the National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA)
mortgage lenders are regulated by the Financial Ombudsman Service
care homes and housing support services are regulated by the Care Inspectorate.
If you are reluctant to approach the service provider yourself, you can ask an adviser at a Shelter advice centre, Citizens Advice or disability advice centre to speak to them for you.
Get advice from the Equality and Human Rights Commission
If you're unable to resolve the issues yourself, you can contact the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) for help and advice.
What can the EHRC do to help?
The EHRC can:
offer you advice on your options
refer you to the disability conciliation service
in some cases, help you take your case to court, if this will test or improve the law.
What is the disability conciliation service?
The disability conciliation service can help resolve discrimination issues without going to court. An independent mediator will arrange a meeting between you and the service provider and help you to reach a satisfactory solution. This is cheaper, faster and less stressful than taking legal action. If you can't reach an agreement with the service provider through conciliation, you still have the option of taking your case to court.
How do I contact the EHRC?
You can contact the EHRC by telephone, text phone, letter, email or fax - you can find contact details on their website.
Take your case to the sheriff court
If you want to take legal action against the service provider, you must do so within six months of the discrimination taking place, or nine months if you have used the disability conciliation service (see above).
Talk to a solicitor, an adviser at Citizens Advice, or the disability advice centre if you're considering this as you will need help. Use Dial UK or the disability advice centre to find an agency near you.
If your case is particularly significant (for example, if it will set a legal precedent which will then help other disabled people win court cases) the EHRC may be able to help you take your case to court.
What will taking my case to court achieve?
By taking your case to court, you may be able to force the service provider to change their service so that it becomes accessible and non-discriminatory. You may also be entitled to compensation for financial loss, injury and damage to your feelings. In extreme cases, you could get an interdict to stop the service provider discriminating against you again in the same way in the future.
How much will it cost?
Taking legal action is usually expensive. However, if you receive benefits or are on a low income, you may be entitled to legal aid to help with the costs.
The law also protects people who use equalities law to pursue their legal rights. This applies to disabled people and non-disabled people.
This means that a service provider can't refuse to provide a service or treat you less favourably because you've:
brought proceedings against them using equality legislation (whether or not proceedings are later withdrawn), or
given evidence or information in connection with any proceedings, or
done anything else to protect your rights under equality legislation, or
alleged that they've contravened equality legislation (whether or not the allegation is later dropped).
Last updated: 16 February 2018