In line with new recommendations, The Online Letting Agents will be removing references to “no housing benefit claimants” from all of our adverts from 15th April 2019, and will no longer screen tenants on this basis. All enquiries will be sent directly to the landlord, to give them the opportunity to assess each individual on their own merits.
We understand that not all landlords are able to accept housing benefit claimants due to restrictions in their mortgage or insurance, and strongly recommend that they familarise themselves with any conditions they are bound by, but would urge all landlords to consider tenants on a case by case basis where they are able to.
Zoopla is also removing ‘No DSS’ and similar wording in their rental listings in an effort to help stop blanket restrictions on renters who receive housing benefit.
The decision supports the recommendations from the National Landlords Association (NLA) and Residential Landlord’s Association (RLA) and has been backed by homeless housing charity Shelter.
The acronym DSS refers to the disbanded Department of Social Security. It has previously been included in advertising listings to deter potential tenants from applying for a rental property because the landlord cannot, or will not, let to those in receipt of benefits.
According to the RLA, two-thirds of the largest buy-to-let lenders decline mortgages to buy-to-let landlords if their tenants are on housing benefit. NatWest Bank has said it will now drop these restrictions, joining Nationwide who are already against the policy.
Of the 4.5million in rental accommodation, around 889,000 in England receive housing benefit to help pay their rent. The National Housing Federation and Shelter found that one in 10 agents in England refused to let to DSS tenants. It is not unlawful for landlords to refuse people on benefits, but Shelter has said that it is likely to contravene the Equality Act.
RLA vice chair Chris Town said: “Landlords should consider prospective tenants on a case-by-case basis. With growing numbers of benefit claimants now reliant on the private rented sector we need to do more to give tenants and landlords greater confidence in the benefits system.”
Rightmove have not yet made the move to ban the phrase from adverts on their portal, but are coming under increasing pressure from Shelter and other groups to do so.