Rental housing discrimination comes in different forms. From ethnic discrimination to gender discrimination, even discrimination based on social class or is it disability related discrimination.
Now, we won’t be talking about all of that today, albeit we will be turning our searchlights on a common form of discrimination which is discrimination based on marital status
There are some landlord that gives you the liberty to exercise your immoral proclivities as long as you are very wealthy and you pay your rent when due. Those kinds of landlord are only interested in your money or what they stand to benefit from you not giving a damn about your morals. As long as you are an hygienic person , you don’t fight with neighbours or damage their property, they really don’t care who you bring home and on whose bed you sleep or mount.
However there are exceptions, in fact the aforementioned premise is a common trend mostly in developed countries. In Nigeria a landlord is not only interested in your money, your morals also comes into scrutiny. There are landlords who don’t rent out their properties to singles especially single ladies; its a red flag for them.
Many landlords prefer to have married couples in their apartments and the couples don’t even have to present a proof of their marital status as long as the man comes with his female companion when renting the apartment.
Despite the divorce statistics, some landlords believe that singles are inherently very unstable as compared to the married ones. The instability of singles is a source of concern to them as they see their single-hood as a platform for irresponsible behaviors. Though there is a reversal when it comes to self-contained or single room apartments. In this circumstance the landlords may possibly prefer that you are single. This is to guard against over-population which could overstretch the facilities and infrastructure inherent in the property.
Unfortunately in Nigeria, landlord can get away with this form of discrimination owing to the fact that there is really no law against it.
Your marital status forms the core of the questions that arise from a landlord/tenant interview. Woe betide you! if you are a lady and yet single; that is a no-no for most landlords.
A landlord would wonder what a single lady is doing staying alone let alone wanting to rent a 2-bedroom apartment.
So, when it comes to the issue of housing, singles are treated differently from married people with the married ones enjoying a fair treatment; the landlords feel they are more responsible and stand less chance of fomenting trouble especially when it comes to paying rents when due.
Having said that, there are actually neighbourhoods with a lot of unmarried men,women,ladies and boys. This often tends to be true around Universities.
Perhaps the married couple is preferred to the single individual because for the former there are actually two renters. The landlords must have figured out that two people would be more likely than one person to have the money to cover the rent.
Part of the irresponsible behaviour a landlord usually foresees a tenant that is single indulge in includes; damage to properties resulting from unruly behavior, frequent visits by guests/friends, keeping late nights, noise pollution, security challenges and probably inability to pay rent when due resulting from a wayward lifestyle.
Basically, there is a more negative expectation for the single tenants which makes the married couple (legal or illegal) more favoured as a renter.
That is why many Bachelors and spinsters have resulted to deceit in their quest to rent apartments. The deceit is more prevalent with properties that don’t have the landlord staying within the premises.
For instance a friend of mine couldn’t rent a 3-bedroom house until she had to formally introduce a fake husband to her landlady. Both even wore fake rings on the day she came with the ‘said’ husband to sign the agreement.
Landlords and even the general public have that impression that for a lady to be single and live in an apartment as long as its not a self-contained apartment, then she must be a ‘whore’
Also, similar remarks are made of single ladies who stay in rented apartments in the same city their parents/family resides whether it’s a 2 bedroom apartment or a self-contained.
However this is my candid view: You may not want to rent from a landlord who obviously disapproves of unmarried couples living together. This is especially true if the landlord lives nearby. How long will you keep up with the deceit before the truth is discovered? Life is too short for all the hassles you’re inviting by renting from someone who’s inappropriately interested in tenants’ private lives. If at all possible, look elsewhere.