Top Tips for Working with Diverse Communities
As a landlord, you’ll meet loads of different people from many different backgrounds and it’s important to know how to work with them.
Discrimination is sadly not a thing of the past and as we learn more about different identities, we have to update our language to match. As a landlord, whether you agree with or share the same beliefs as your tenant, you need to be respectful of them to ensure a good relationship.
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But language can be a minefield these days, so we wanted to break down some of the common terms that are out there at the moment.
Please note that language is ever-evolving, so these terms may become obsolete or mean different things in the future.
4 Top tips for working with diverse communities
There are a lot of different needs out there and it can be tough to accommodate everyone, but there are some easy ways to make sure that your relationships with your tenants remain pleasant and professional:
- Be respectful. You don’t need to share the same views as your tenant to respect their beliefs or choices. If they have asked you to use a specific name or pronoun, do so – you wouldn’t want to be misamed or misgendered yourself
- Listen. If your tenant needs you to know something about how to communicate with them – perhaps culturally they aren’t allowed to shake hands, or they struggle with written communication because of dyslexia – listen and act on what they’ve shared. They are actually trying to make sure your relationship runs smoothly
- Don’t discriminate. Whatever your beliefs, you cannot discriminate against potential tenants. The Human Rights Act has made it illegal to discriminate based on: ‘sex, race, colour, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, association with a national minority, property, birth or other status’
- If you’re not sure – ask! This doesn’t mean asking probing questions about people’s ethnic backgrounds or disabilities, that’s just not your business. But if you’re not sure how to pronounce a name correctly, for example, go ahead and ask. Your tenant will be happy to tell you rather than hear their name mispronounced!
What are some terms you don’t understand?
This list is not exhaustive! Over time, you will probably hear new terms that are unfamiliar with you and you may have to look these up or ask someone.
LGBTQIA+: This acronym stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex and Asexual. The + indicates that gender identity and sexuality is a spectrum and not everyone falls into a neat box.
Transgender: A transgender person’s personal sense of their gender doesn’t line up with their birth sex. The opposite of transgender is Cis. It’s considered pretty rude to ask about someone’s gender identity, so no matter how curious you are – your tenant is not the person to answer those questions!
Non-binary: If someone identifies as non-binary, they don’t identify with either male or female. They are likely to use they/them pronouns (yes, these can be used in the singular!)
Neurodivergent: Someone who is neurodivergent has mental or neurological functions that are different from what is considered typical or ‘the norm’. This includes autistic spectrum disorders, ADHD, dyslexia, dyspraxia, etc. Someone neurodivergent may act differently to what you might consider ‘normal’ but this is just because the way they view the world is different. You may need to make accommodations when working with a neurodivergent tenant, so be open to hearing what those accommodations are.
These are just some of the terms and kinds of people that you may meet in your landlording life!
Why should landlords care about this?
As a landlord, yes you have multiple responsibilities:
- You need to keep on top of your Gas Safety Certification, your EICR and your EPC and ensure the tenant has copies before the tenancy starts
- You need to ensure deposits are correctly protected or use a Deposit Replacement Scheme
- You need to do all your due diligence when you’re looking for a new tenant – from tenant referencing to Right to Rent checks
- You need to respond to issues in the property (make sure you have Home Emergency Insurance so these don’t hit your pocket)
- Over the years you own your property, you’ll need to keep it updated, which you’ll need to budget for
Legally, while there are rules and regulations around certification requirements and living standards, you are also not allowed to discriminate against potential tenants. You can be prosecuted for discrimination, so no matter what your personal feelings, you cannot let them affect your tenants or you could face a large fine.
At the heart of what you do are people. And people vary in a billion different ways, so learning to work with them is the very best thing you can do to build a long-term, mutually beneficial relationship that you are both happy and comfortable with.