Blacklisted from rentals

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A Queenstown hospo boss is “disgusted” after being turned down for 11 rentals because he has a baby.

And he’s not the only one, with several people telling Mountain Scene they were also discriminated against for having kids.

The issue’s not just frustrating – it’s also illegal.

Attiqa co-owner Stefano De Santis, who’s been in Queenstown for nearly seven years, describes the situation as “completely unreal”.

He and partner Federica have a three-week old daughter, Rita.

He says they’ve applied for at least 11 places, listed by a mix of private landlords and property managers, that turned him down because they didn’t allow children.

“The only issue I can think of is noise, but I’ve lived in apartments with rooms on the left and right, and I’ve been woken up at 2am because of parties,” he says.

He doesn’t want to name names, but Scene has seen emails and text messages from landlords and companies to De Santis supporting his claims.

He’s been staying in a house owned by friends for six months while they’re overseas, but has to leave on October 10.

Luckily, he’s now found a home.

Rone Nascimento says he took his son with him to an apartment viewing, and was told by the real estate agent not to bother filling out the application form because the landlord didn’t want a family with a small child as tenants.

“When I asked her if that was even legal, she replied saying that I could apply but the landlord would have many more applications and mine would be on the bottom of the pile as he would pick ‘someone more suitable’ than my family.”

Lorna Pullin has experienced the same problem before she’s even had her baby.

She started looking for a rental at 14 weeks pregnant, and it took until she was 22 weeks before she found her current home.

She says there was a theme in the responses she got when she inquired about rentals.

Either it was “too small or not suitable for a baby”, or “we don’t want babies or children in the unit”.

She’s going on maternity leave at the end of next week, and given her lack of income, she’s planning to return to the UK to be around family for support.

She’s not allowed to sub-lease her current unit for the three months she’ll be away, so she’s going to have to face another round of house hunting when she returns, this time with a baby in tow.

“It’s always been difficult to find affordable accommodation in Queenstown, but since becoming pregnant I have learned how much harder the task is with a baby on the way.”

According to the Government, they’re well within their rights to take the issue further.

A Ministry for Business, Innovation and Employment spokeswoman says discrimination is unlawful under tenancy law when it breaches the Human Rights Act.

“When providing accommodation, it is against the law to choose tenants based on their gender, religious or ethical beliefs, nationality, political opinion, and marital or family status, for example.

“This includes choosing tenants based on any responsibilities for dependants.”

The Residential Tenancies Act also makes it unlawful for anyone to discriminate when deciding whether to grant a tenancy, continue or change a tenancy, and end a tenancy, she says.

“This includes a landlord telling an agent (i.e. property manager) not to rent to the potential tenant.”

Tenants can either make a complaint to the Human Rights Commission, or make an application to the Tenancy Tribunal.

Clutha Southland MP Hamish Walker says anyone who has been told they weren’t considered for a rental because of their kids should complain, as it’s discrimination.

“This is very disappointing to hear and I would expect more from our landlords.

“Families already have enough going on with kids, they don’t need this extra barrier.”

daisy.hudson@scene.co.nz