14 July 2020
Blanket bans on renting properties to people on housing benefit ruled unlawful
Today a judge has ruled that "No DSS" rental bans are discriminatory and against equality laws.
The court had found that a single mother with two children had faced indirect discrimination when a letting agent declined to rent a property to her.
The ruling of indirect discrimination is due to the fact that women and those with disabilities are disproportionately more likely to be on housing benefit, and therefore more likely to be affected by the blanket "No DSS" ban, which had excluded thousands of people from renting homes each year.
‘This ruling is another example of the widening responsibilities and restrictions that Landlords should be careful not to fall foul of. Landlords, like anyone else, should not discriminate and they should treat each tenant (and process each tenancy application) fairly, on a case by case basis. However, Landlord’s should be entitled to objectively and fairly ensure that the tenant can meet his or her obligations. In our experience Housing Benefit often doesn’t meet the entirety of rent, which can often lead to rent arrears. This is why some landlords have been reluctant to agree to Housing Benefit funded tenancies in the past. We are happy to guide landlords and tenants in this developing area.’
Polly Neate, chief executive of Shelter, said: "This momentous ruling should be the nail in the coffin for 'No DSS' discrimination. It will help give security and stability to people who unfairly struggle to find a place to live just because they receive housing benefit."
Chris Norris, from the National Residential Landlords Association, said: "No landlord should discriminate against tenants because they are in receipt of benefits. Every tenant's circumstance is different and so they should be treated on a case by case basses based on their ability to sustain the tenancy."