Q: I made an offer on a house being sold through an estate agent. The agent showed us round whilst the owners were on holiday. My offer was accepted and I found a buyer for my own house. Everything was moving along nicely and a few weeks before completion was due I made arrangements directly with the vendors to visit and measure up for window blinds.
When I arrived they had invited their longstanding neighbours round to meet me. I got a frosty reception from them and the neighbours and three days later the agent rang and told me the vendors had decided to withdraw the property from sale. This of course meant I had to pull out of my sale also and I have incurred costs for surveyors’ fees. Now I have heard the ‘for sale’ board was reinstated almost immediately and the property has been sold. I am convinced I was prejudiced against because I have Tourette syndrome. Can I sue for discrimination?
A: If someone is selling their home through an estate agent they cannot refuse an offer from a potential buyer on the grounds of disability, gender reassignment, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex or sexual orientation. Similarly they cannot treat them unfairly. If they do it could be classed as lawful discrimination.
However, for the person being discriminated against it can be a long, painful and expensive process taking such a case to court. In addition, you should be aware that if you were to lose the case you would also be liable to pay the other party’s legal expenses. In cases of discrimination, legal aid is sometimes available, but only if the eligibility criteria can be met. Before taking any action it would be worthwhile to seek advice from a reputable local solicitor who is experienced in discrimination cases.