Religious symbols and Facebook Posts?

by Readers Question

2 years ago

Religious symbols and Facebook Posts?

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Religious symbols and Facebook Posts?

Just wondering what people’s views would be about tenants in a shared house (all on individual room contracts) putting religious symbols in communal areas?religious symbols

The religious symbols in question being Catholic symbols. No-one has complained about this (except someone viewing the property who asked lots of questions about them, and clearly was very uncomfortable with them and not keen on taking a room as a result). However, one of the people responsible has been complaining about Facebook posts reposted by one of the other housemates, the posts in question referring to the Northern Irish conflict (and whilst they were clearly not supportive of the IRA no personal comment was added by the housemate in question, and he has previously served in Northern Ireland in the military and the posts seemed to be linked to an anniversary of soldiers having been attacked by the IRA).

This is a snippet of a much larger scenario, with many points being put forward by both sides. Ironically the pre-existing tenants were invited to approve the newer tenant (the ex-military one), and they were supportive of his moving in. It has however not been a successful composition of a household, and I’m actively trying to find alternative accommodation for the newer tenant, to save everyone’s sanity, not least mine.

However, I’d like to better understand:
I understand that it’s illegal to harass others, for example because of their race, ethnic or national origin, religious beliefs etc. However, I also understand that EU Protection of Human Rights provides for ‘Freedom of thought, conscience and religion’ and it seems to me – trying to look at this objectively – that a post on someone’s Facebook page (which others don’t have to look at) is arguably less invasive than effectively forcing others to live with religious symbols (which they may associate with a stressful period that they’ve previously experienced).

I’d be interested to know what others would do faced with these same issues?
I don’t believe that I’m being asked to get the Facebook page changed – but it is being held up as an example of why the poster is an unsuitable housemate (despite the others being fully aware of his army connections right from the start). Also, no-one has asked that I take any action regarding the religious symbology (which I personally don’t mind, but am concerned that it is intimidating for others in this shared house environment – I’m also concerned that it has only been in place since the newer housemate has moved in, despite the others having rented from me for more than two years).

Many thanks



Neil Patterson

2 years ago

I know it is possible for employers to ban the wearing of a christian cross as it is technically not a requirement of the faith.

This was from a case when British Airways sacked a member of flight crew for not hiding it when wearing uniform.

Beyond that this is a very tricky subject and people will never be happy with any decision you make so I would try to avoid making one or getting involved in an issue that is not yours, but theirs.


2 years ago

Hi, it sounds like there is a lot of second guessing going on, however, I would assume that, in the AST for a shared house, you have something about not leaving personal possessions in communal areas. Assuming you do, I would suggest enforcing that to avoid the religious (or any other) symbol becoming an issue. As for comments on FB, you should advise the complaining tenant to report to FB if they are offended. If they don't, perhaps the comments aren't such an issue.

I think you are doing the right thing in finding alternative accommodation for the 'offending' tenant but I would suggest sitting with the complaining tenant to get to what is really behind their complaints - if you have to move someone on every time they disagree with what someone says, it may be them you want to move on.


2 years ago

If it were me, I would advise the tenants that the tenancy agreement is for the room and not the whole property. This means they can do what they like in their room within the terms of the agreement and the shared areas are communal. Therefore, there should be no personalisation of any shared facilities. On a less contentious note, I have a tenant who insists on decorating the hallway and kitchen every Christmas to resemble Santas Grotto and every year I ask him to remove it on the grounds of taste and damage to the walls. Tenants should be mindful of your ability to continually sell the rooms.

On another note, I have a tenant with a copious collection of sexual torture items in her room and I've had to ask her to keep her door closed for fear of terrifying the other housemates!

Anthony Endsor

2 years ago

As the Landlord, it is obviously your decision as to what you allow, though I bet if it was another religion, i.e. Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, etc, you would be accused of racism by asking them to be removed. Therefore by the same token I would say let sleeping dogs lie, and if another tenant is not happy, they know where the door is.

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