Discrimination in the private rental market in Australia: large families from refugee backgrounds

Anna Ziersch, Nicole Loehr, Keith Miller

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Securing appropriate housing is a crucial component of resettlement for people with refugee experience, but many face challenges in securing private rental housing, including discrimination, particularly for large families. This paper explores refugee and asylum seeker experiences of discrimination in the private rental market through in-depth semi-structured interviews with refugees and asylum seekers from large families (N = 22), service providers (N = 18), community leaders (N = 4), real estate agents (N = 11) and lessors (N = 10). Interviews were thematically analysed. The analysis identified the pervasive nature of discriminatory practices in private rental housing affecting large refugee and asylum-seeking families, though it was not always recognised as discrimination. Market factors and risk assessments were highlighted as contributing to discrimination and how agents’ and lessors’ working definition of discrimination manifested in their tenant selection practices. While service providers and some agents sought to counter discriminatory practices, the significant impact of discriminatory housing practices for refugees and asylum seekers was evident and poses important policy and practice questions.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages25
JournalHousing Studies
Early online date8 Aug 2023
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 8 Aug 2023


  • asylum seeker
  • discrimination
  • housing
  • private rental
  • Refugee


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