Discrimination against renters on benefits

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This topic contains 3 replies, has 3 voices, and was last updated by  Roni Moran 5 months ago.

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  • #1205

    committeehelen
    Keymaster

    More and more often we see ‘No DSS’ or ‘No benefit claimants’ on letting adverts. Sometimes a letting agent assumption, rather than arising from a transparent discussion with the landlord.
    True, charging the full current ‘market rent’ may in practice exclude many tenants on Housing Benefit, even if they are working, as they may not be in a position to top up the Local Housing Allowance. But it seems blatantly discriminatory, and unethical, to lump everyone together, prejudge their circumstances and rule them out in advance. Do others agree?

    #1216

    jdc
    Moderator

    No DSS is a nonsense – the Department of Social Security hasn’t existed since 2001 so it would be as well if letting agents at least got up to date! A blanket ban on applications from anyone claiming Housing Benefit is unfair. A recent case suggested that such blanket bans could discriminate against women http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-42979242

    So perhaps we’ll see fewer of these overt bans in the future but whether it will change attitudes I’m not sure. I read today of a landlord whose leasehold agreement prohibits letting to tenants on benefits. Many mortgage and insurance policies also put restrictions on letting to tenants who are on benefits or unemployed. I suspect many smaller landlords don’t realise this until they come to let a property.

    #1258

    jdc
    Moderator

    Although I am opposed to blanket bans on letting to people claiming benefits, I can understand why letting agents/ landlords use them. Recently I helped a relative to let her property. We had a number of enquiries and requests to view from applicants who were on very low incomes. In our area the gap between the Local Housing Allowance (the maximum rent Housing benefit will pay for that size of property) and the market rent amounts to £250 -300/ month. Those on low incomes were probably desperate to find somewhere to live but didn’t seem to understand that their Housing Benefit would not in any way cover a market rent.Their incomes weren’t sufficient for them to top this up.

    So although we didn’t put a ban on benefit claimants, for most of them the market rent was not affordable. My relative wasn’t in a position to reduce the rent by £250/ month or more to make it affordable. So in the process we put up people’s hopes, and wasted their and our time.

    #1962

    Roni Moran
    Moderator

    The RLA has recently published an article suggesting that blanket bans on tenants on benefits are potentially unlawful and that each case needs to be considered individually. The exception is of course if your mortgage conditions don’t allow you to accepts tenants on benefits – hmm … I wonder if that’s unlawful? Here’s the link to the article:

    No DSS policies: Landlords reminded tenancies MUST be assessed individually


    With the gap between market rent and local housing allowance getting bigger all the time, I don’t know how people on benefits do manage to find places to rent, let alone find the money to pay for a deposit… But in any case, I agree it is discriminatory (unless it’s a term of the mortgage). Situations do need to be assessed individually.

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