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Same Sex Couples

In Ireland, the definition of marriage includes same sex couples, so they can become legally married. This means that same-sex partners have equal rights to heterosexual married couples.

Local authority housing

The question of whether or not you may be allocated local authority housing in Ireland is generally based on your need for housing and whether you could afford to pay for your own accommodation. There is nothing to prevent a same-sex couple from being allocated local authority housing. Usually when married couples are allocated local authority accommodation, the lease is in both their names as joint-tenants. This means that if one spouse dies or leaves, the remaining spouse can take over the lease. It is also possible for unmarried couples or friends to apply to have a house held in joint-tenancy and there does not seem to be any reason why same-sex couples could not do so.

Private rented accommodation and the private housing market

Under the Equal Status Act 2000, a landlord cannot refuse to rent accommodation to you because of your sexual orientation. He or she also cannot discriminate against you in relation to any of the services or amenities relating to the accommodation nor can he or she end your lease simply because of your sexual orientation. Same-sex couples are entitled to buy private houses and lending institutions will not refuse to give you a mortgage simply because of your sexual orientation. The main concern of lending institutions is your ability to repay the loan.

Life assurance policies and mortgage protection policies If you are a single man over 30 years of age applying for a mortgage protection policy or for life assurance, the application form will inquire whether you have ever received medical advice or blood tests relating to HIV. If you answer that you have, you will be obliged to complete a “Lifestyle Questionnaire”, which is a series of questions about your lifestyle, including whether or not you are or have been involved in a homosexual relationship. The family home The Family Home Protection Act 1976 gives a spouse the right to veto any sale or lease of the family home by the other spouse. In order to sell or lease the family home, the written consent of both spouses must first be obtained. This Act does not apply to same-sex couples.

Buying a home together

If you are unmarried and are buying (or thinking about buying) a home with your partner, you should consider in advance which is the best home ownership option for you. In Ireland, joint ownership of property for unmarried couples can be held in one of two ways;

  • Joint tenancy
  • Tenancy in common

Considering which is the best option for you, means being prepared for what you wish to happen in in the event of the death of either partner, or the breakup of your relationship.

Joint tenancy

This means the whole property is owned by two people with the intention that, when one dies, the other person will automatically own all of the property. In situations where one person has paid for the property, the other person may not get 50% of the proceeds if the house is sold. In situations such as this, you need to check your situation with a solicitor.

Tenancy in common

This means the property is owned in defined shares by two people. For example, 50/50, 75/25, 60/40, etc. Each person can leave their share of the property to whomever they wish. (They may leave their share to their partner for example, but they must make a will stating this fact). If no will is made, the share becomes part of the estate of the deceased partner and the unmarried partner does not have any automatic right to the share. Instead, the family (or even a separated spouse) of the deceased person can claim this share.

Rules

If you feel that you and your partner have been discriminated against in the area of housing, you should bring your complaint to the Equality Authority within two months of the discriminatory act or decision.

Where To Apply

Further information and advice about housing in Ireland is available from your local Citizen Information Centre. You can also contact the Citizens Information Phone Service by telephone 1890 777 121 or e-mail: callcentre@comhairle.ie. Complaints to the Equality Authority about discrimination should be made to:

The Equality Authority

2 Clonmel St
Dublin 2

Ireland
Tel: +353 (0)1 4173333
Local: 1890 245545
Fax: +353 (0)1 4173331
Homepage: www.equality.ie
Email: info@equality.ie

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