Finding someone to live with can be a precarious task, particularly if you have a niche list of requirements.
Sure, it’s all very well if someone is a non-smoker and enjoys cooking pasta in the evenings, but what if they’re not astrologically compatible with you?
Such was the concern of one landlord, who recently turned down an applicant for a room in their Portland, Oregon home because they were a Capricorn.
The response was posted in a Portland Queer Housing group on Facebook and subsequently shared on Twitter over the weekend, where it has since gone viral.
“Hey Christine! Sorry I haven’t responded earlier. My concern is that you’re a Capricorn,” reads the response, which appears to have been sent over Facebook Messenger.
“Our main goal is to keep things egalitarian, without anyone being ‘in charge’ or domming the household [sic],” it continues.
“I love Capricorns, but I don’t think I could live with one (or be in a band with another one).”
The landlord went on to describe their home as “Virgo/Gemini” in which “soft mutable signs get to run free untethered by cardinal authorities”.
Riley Owen, who tweeted the response, clarified that they did not receive the message themselves but took a screenshot of it when it was posted in the Facebook group "because the person who did receive it was mad and wanted the sender banned from the group".
Owen's tweet has since garnered more than 11,700 retweets and thousands of replies from people teasing the landlord for their comments and questioning whether or not choosing a roommate based on their star sign qualifies as discrimination.
As for the legalities on rejecting a potential roommate based on their star sign, Matt Hutchinson, director at Spare Room, the UK’s leading flat sharing site, tells The Independent that while it may not necessarily qualify as discrimination, he wouldn’t advise it as a strategy.
“Discrimination in legal terms is about denying someone access to housing based on a clearly defined set of what are known as ‘protected characteristics’. They include things like race, sex, religion and nationality,” Hutchinson explains.
These categories are laid out in the Equality Act 2010 and also include gender reassignment, disability, pregnancy and sexual orientation. You can read more about what constitutes as housing discrimination here.
“Star sign isn’t a protected characteristic," Hutchinson continues. "That means people are able to choose who they live with based on their star sign if they want to, although it doesn’t seem to us to be the most likely way to guarantee finding a great housemate.”
In the US, the laws are similar, as the US Fair Housing Act 1968 and the Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1988 prohibits discrimination based on seven categories, including race, religion, national origin, disability and sex. Star signs are not explicitly referenced.
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