Buy-to-let landlords who reject housing benefit claimants could be breaking the law.
A recent legal case which saw single mother Rosie Keogh win 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 is a stark warning that landlords and letting agents who refuse to rent to housing benefit claimants could be breaking equality laws.
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.
Ajay Jagota, managing director of deposit free renting firm Dlighted, described some landlords’ decisions to ban benefits tenants as “beyond bonkers”.
He said: “We like to tell ourselves as an industry that the bad old days of ‘no dogs, no blacks, no Irish’ are behind us, but sadly it seems a significant number of rents are still being discriminated against in 2018 – and it doesn’t have to be that way.
“By the looks of things fewer and fewer landlords and letting agents are willing to rent to tenants on housing benefit tenants, most probably as a result of welfare reforms making them anxious about possible rent arrears.
“And they’re absolutely right that the old-fashioned tenancy deposit provide negligible protection against rent arrears and zero protection against legal costs – especially compared to the £600,000 of cover provided by deposit-free renting using deposit replacement insurance.”
Jagota believes that standard tenant vetting does not provide landlords with enough information about prospective tenants.
“Landlords and letting agents might decided not to rent to a tenant with a lifetime track record of reliable renting because standard tenant vetting won’t let them see that,” he added.