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TODAY'S OTHER NEWS

No DSS: MPs warned affordability checks likely to increase

The ‘No DSS’ issue has been effectively settled by a landmark court case, but a new document for MPs says ‘affordability checks’ may be increasingly used when approving tenancies.

The 32-page document - Can Private Landlords Refuse To Let To Housing Benefit Claimants? - has been prepared by the House of Commons Library, and can be read online by the general public.

It gives a thorough history of the debate over whether landlords could - or should - deny benefit claimants potential tenancies.

It also gives detailed accounts of the case earlier this year, when a disabled single parent was refused housing by a letting agent based on her receipt of Housing Benefit. The court ruling said such a refusal was in breach of the Equality Act 2010. 

A more recent case - considered in Birmingham County Court last month, when the judge held that a letting agency operating a blanket ‘No DSS’ policy amounted to unlawful indirect discrimination against disabled people - is also detailed in the document.

The new document chronicles the long-standing argument over Local Housing Allowances and the policy that this is typically paid to claimants rather than landlords. 

Restrictions to LHA, introduced throughout the past decade, have added to landlords’ concerns about the gap between LHA and market rent levels. The roll out of Universal Credit has made landlords’ worries even greater.

Inevitably the document also gives space to organisations less sympathetic to landlords - Shelter gets significant attention, and its comments quoted range from the LHA issue to the recent ending of the eviction ban.

You can read the entire document by clicking on the link at the top of this House of Commons summary.

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    Surprise surprise! Make it more difficult to get rid of rogue tenants and landlords will be much more careful in tenant selection. No more benefit of the doubt.

    As ye sow...........

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    These properties belong to landlords, so landlords will decide who lives in them, we don't have to give a reason for refusing a tenancy, it'll still be NO DSS, but not in those words.

  • Paul Barrett

    There is also the situation that the LL now has to pay referencing costs.

    Why bother when the LL knows a DSS tenant is unacceptable and not just because of income?
    That is why LL say NO DSS.

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    We can however ask the tenant to supply their own referencing from a suitable source, that way the tenant wastes their own money .

     
  • Paul Barrett

    As far as I am aware LL are now nit allowed to require tenants to supply referencing.

    I would get round that by advising tenants that whilst not a requirement to supply referencing if they didn't they wouldn't be considered.

    So their choice to be considered or NOT!

  • Matthew Payne

    2 other issues are being confused with the chosen title of this research, that might explain why they named it "Can Private Landlords Refuse To Let To Housing Benefit Claimants?".

    Firstly, a landlord has complete freedom to choose who to rent a property to, so who they refuse to let to becomes irrelevant. I choose tenant A, not tenants B - Z, some of whom may be on benefits. The positive motion of choice trumps any issue regarding a need to reject anyone. So it only then becomes about how that is communicated, hence the agents falling foul of these blanket bans.

    Secondly, what the governemnt would like to call their study but can't is "Can we find some ways to sequestre the PRS and turn it into Social Housing, as we neglected to build any in the last 20 years, but we can't come out and say that?"

  • David Lester

    Make necessary changes to the minimum conditions that you are prepared to let your property, you may wish to: -
    o One month’s rent in advance, regardless of who is paying.
    o Guarantor for all tenants from the Council or are on Universal Credit.
    o 6 months break clause.
    o 5 weeks deposit or Rent Assurance
    o If Universal Credit, then rent paid directly to you from outset
    o Decide what is included in your rent, i.e. Council Tax, Power, Water, make them part of the Tenants responsibility.

    The above will sort-out the "wheat from the chuff"!

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    Unfortunately much of what you quite rightly want would be unenforceable or easily changed by the tenant once they had secured the tenancy.

    Pricing out benefit claiming tenants and ensuring solvent middle class guarantors is the safest way forward, although even the seemingly most suitable tenants can now be subject to enforced diminished circumstances. In such cases, hopefully their guarantors will ensure early vacant possession to minimise their liabilities.

    We live in unique times where affording something isn't regarded as a prerequisite to obtaining or retaining it, especially if it belongs to someone whose diligence, foresight and effort now has them perceived as richer and thus less deserving.

     
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