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TODAY'S OTHER NEWS

Landlords who reject tenants on housing benefits could be breaking equality laws

Thousands of landlords and lettings agents across the country could be flouting equality laws by rejecting housing benefit claimants, according to new research by the National Housing Federation and Shelter.

The study found that one in five letting agents in England, some of which are acting on their landlord clients instructions, are potentially breaking the law with ‘No DSS’ adverts that discriminate against people on housing benefit, as this could violate the 2010 Equality Act.

Approximately 86,000 letting agent adverts on Zoopla from 8,785 different letting agent branches in England were analysed, with 1,757 (20%) featuring some kind of advert discriminating against people on housing benefit.

Kate Henderson, chief executive of the National Housing Federation, told the press: “It is shameful that a fifth of letting agent branches are doing something potentially unlawful by openly discriminating against people on housing benefit.

“It’s likely that many more letting agents are discriminating too, but our research today shines a light on those who are willing to do so in a really brazen manner online.”

She added: “We’ve revealed that these outdated practices are not only pushing people, mainly women, in to homelessness, but that they are probably unlawful. There’s no excuse any more. Everyone must do the right thing, morally and legally, and stop discriminating.”

Earlier this year, single mother Rosie Keogh won compensation for sex discrimination from a letting agency that refused to consider her as a tenant for a property in the Kings Heath area of Birmingham after she revealed that at least part of her rental payment would come via benefits.

Keogh, a cleaner and former paralegal, successfully argued that blanket bans on benefit claimants indirectly discriminated against women, especially single women, as they are proportionately more likely to be claiming housing benefit than single men.

She had been living in the same property for 11 years with the rent being paid in full every time.

After a letter of complaint was dismissed by the agents, the mother of one issued a claim for discrimination in the county court.

“I felt something had to be done to challenge it. I was motivated by anger at such inequitable practice,” she said.

“It made me feel like a second-class citizen.

“You are being treated differently – and it’s women and women with children who are bearing the brunt of this because they need to work part-time.”

A survey of 1,137 private landlords for housing charity Shelter last year found that 43% had an outright ban on letting to such claimants. A further 18% preferred not to let to them.

Keogh was supported in her case by Shelter, whose legal officer, Rose Arnall, commented: “By applying a blanket policy they are actually preventing good tenants from accessing the private rented sector.

“Women are more likely to be caring for children and therefore working part-time and are therefore more likely to top up their income by claiming housing benefit.”

Poll: Would you accept tenants on housing benefit?

PLACE YOUR VOTE BELOW

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    My properties, my choice of tenant, if need be I would be happy to have my say in court on that one.

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    They simply do not get it.

    I will happily say no DSS and have very valid reasons for doing so.

    Its a business we run, not a charity

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    Att all HB Kate Henderson NHF wants to house you. If she refuses she’s discriminating. Fill yer boots

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    Pay direct to landlord and problem goes away simple

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    The problem with that is if the tenant is claiming wrongly, the council will take the money back off the person they have paid. Not the tenant!

     
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    I will treat everyone who can afford my properties out of earned income equally and accept them as tenants. Equally I will reject everyone who can't afford to rent them out of their own earned income. Surely that's observing equality?

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    They are clutching at straws here it’s the system that’s wrong not our industry. These groups need any excuse to attack the PRS join the landlord alliance to fight all these groups who think it’s ok to blame everything on landlords and letting agents.

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    As a Letting Agent, first port of call is the Lender. If they say No DSS then it's no DSS. Many Landlords are accidental and not professional and therefore the income derived from the tenancy is crucial as it will be for the professional. DSS money is not guaranteed, is not always paid on time and can be reclaimed by the DSS. Insuring for loss of Rent will be almost impossible. If you want the DSS tenant out the Local Authority will tell them to stay and wait to get evicted so they can then house them. So if a Landlord refuses DSS then why shouldn't they without punitive measures. Perhaps the Councils should build more accommodation, perhaps those in Social Housing who can afford to buy or privately rent should do so and release property to those in need! Just a thought.

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    no need to state it on adverts.. this is their issue. just decline them anyway on merit, every UC tenant would fail on credit rating, income requirements etc etc.. we do accept benefit tenants but they must have a home owner working guarantor who passes full credit and referencing. cant see what all the fuss is about its an easy enough issue to manage without the need to slap NO DSS on adverts

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    Totally agree

     
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    Stuff the equality act. If the payments were made to landlords that's ok but to give the money, due to landlord's to tenants' this must also be a breach of equality laws. Goose and gander comes to mind here.

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    We don't discriminate against benefits claimants, its the system we reject.

    It's a simple fix for the government really.

    Pay the rent monthly, not 4 weekly, pay it direct to landlords and if the tenant if fraudulently claiming, Claim the money back from the tenants, not the landlords, make it easier for landlords to evict tenants if these cases as the chances of the landlord getting paid by the tenants are slim to none.

    But that is clearly too difficult to understand so we will continue to see tenants turned down for properties and the government passing blame to landlord for discrimination.

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    Council will not adopt a simple fraud proof way of paying rent direct to landlords because it is so so simple and more honest and trustworthy, but they will do none of this so Yes no benefit or UC in my properties.

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    If the Council or NHF are unable to provide suitable housing perhaps they would like to be Guarantors for all potential Tenants.........Do the moral thing so to speak

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    Guarantors like Shelter are currently refusing to be, you mean?!

     
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    that's a lovely idea chris, but we all know it will never happen don't we

     
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    Says Shelter, the homeless 'charity' that doesn't provide homes for anyone. It spends its donations on backing tenants from hell in court against decent landlords, finding any technicality to invalidate their Section 8 / 21. It also spends money teaching those already with a home how to put up shelves and other basic DIY - obvious a lot more important than bringing the homeless in from the cold and rain..... If Shelter were prepared to put their money where their mouth is and step up as guarantor for those with unreliable income then many more landlords would consider DSS. I'm sick of these continous assaults on the PRS, as I'm sure most PRS landlords must be. Thank goodness for the new Landlords Alliance who are taking a more aggressive stance against the undeserved vitriol being aimed at us.

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    Indeed, Debbie! Shelter should start making proper, practical use of their funds and guarantor all DSS tenants. This should cause too much of a dent in their £60m budget because they insist DSS tenants are no more of a risk than any other category of tenant...

     
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    Is this by any chance the same Shelter whose directors sold the cladding for the Grenfell Tower? The directors who resigned immediately after the fire?
    I just wondered.

     
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    Google Was Shelter’s campaign with Rosie likely to succeed if it got to court?

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    Everyone must do the right thing, morally and legally, and stop discriminating.”
    The government and Shelter are discriminating against the good landlords by taxing them to death if they happen to have a BTL mortgage and by having a Rogue landlord database but not a Rogue tenant database . Letting Rogue tenants who cost landlords thousands in unpaid rent and trashed properties get away with it. Should not a tenant who has not paid rent and trashed property face a criminal charge especially if they have spent the Housing allowance on other things?

    The outslaught againsts the PRS is disgusting and the government and Shelter should hang their heads in shame.

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    Here’s a funny thing. The NHF’s chief David Orr is quoted in another article on this same page, saying it was ‘madness’ that the govt were ‘lining the pockets of private landlords’ with HB payments. He has grave concerns that we receive £9.3bn from people on benefits!

    Well I never! THATS the reason we can ALL refuse to take tenants on benefits - don’t want to go upsetting the NHF/govt finances now, do we?!?!

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    well james i can hold my head up high here, i am not one of these landlords getting rich from housing benefit payments, cause i don't have any tenants, and won't take any tenants ,claiming housing benefit. I must be the good guy here ?

     
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    Had two, lost thousands....
    Too troublesome, too much attitude, late payer if you get it at all. Damage to property, dumping goods &Rubbish.....
    Far too higher risk for little returns

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    Mike you must be wrong because Shelter (the charity which houses no one) said benefit tenants did not pose any risk. After all rhetoric triumphs over experience all the time.

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