Property website MyHome.ie has announced new procedures to tackle discriminatory property adverts appearing on the site.
The website had faced criticism for allowing adverts which discriminated against tenants in receipt of rent allowance.
Since January 2016, when the Equal Status Act was amended, the fact that a person wishing to rent a property is on housing assistance or other social welfare supports cannot be a reason to refuse them. The law also extends to a ban on discriminatory advertising, thereby placing an obligation on landlords, estate agents, and property advertisers, including websites advertisement services.
Following engagement with the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission (IHREC), MyHome.ie has now developed practical methods to identify, monitor and block discriminatory advertising on its website.
Key aspects of the MyHome.ie system include a two-tiered system for checking advertisements published on its website, through both a manual, and auto-check system.
Specifically, the auto-check system will filter “trigger” words and phrases that could be in contravention of equality legislation. MyHome.ie has also put in place investigation, reporting and take-down procedures where discriminatory ads are identified, both pre and post-publication.
The property website has also committed to reviewing and improving the system in light of experience following the roll out.
Managing director of MyHome.ie, Angela Keegan said the company was adopting a proactive approach to the new legislation. She also said MyHome.ie was looking forward to working with the IHREC to ensure discriminatory ads did not appear on the site. Throughout 2016, the IHREC engaged in an information campaign advising the public and property suppliers of the change in the law and providing detailed information on the housing assistance ground.
The campaign led to it receiving a high number of contacts from the public in relation to potential discrimination in private rental accommodation.
In a statement, the IHREC said it welcomed the move by MyHome.ie and expressed hope that the initiative would create an impetus for other advertisers/publishers/property agents to do the same.
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