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Prominent landlord websites may be unlawfully discriminating, claims BBC

An investigation by the BBC has found that 80 per cent of advertisements on two websites used by landlords say people on benefits will not be considered as tenants.

The sites are SpareRoom and OpenRent - and both have told the BBC they are addressing the issue.

By contrast less than one per cent of the rental advertisements on Zoopla and Rightmove had similar problems.


In the summer a court ruling determined that blanket bans on benefit claimants contravened the 2010 Equality Act.

The BBC analysed 59,000 listings on SpareRoom and OpenRent.

“Both platforms currently offer landlords a tick-box option to exclude people on benefits, although SpareRoom plans to remove the option” says the corporation.

OpenRent founder Adam Hyslop tells the BBC: "We know that access to suitable properties for benefit claimants is a real and painful problem, and we want to solve the root causes of these issues.

"We've raised these issues in Parliament and with industry lobby groups and are working hard to address the root causes - as well as trying to combat prejudice by educating OpenRent users.

"OpenRent does not ban any group of tenants, and in the past year we have let over 25,000 properties where applications from benefit claimants were explicitly welcomed by the landlord."

And SpareRoom director Matt Hutchinson says: “After the July ruling we changed the way SpareRoom works, so landlords can only list rooms as unavailable to benefit claimants if their mortgage or insurance specifically forbid it. However, we've seen far more rooms still being listed as unavailable than the small number we expected.

"The reality is that there are almost no buy to let mortgages left with those clauses in them, so we're currently in the process of removing the option to list as unavailable to benefit claimants completely."

You can see the full BBC story here.

Want to comment on this story? If so...if any post is considered to victimise, harass, degrade or intimidate an individual or group of individuals on any basis, then the post may be deleted and the individual immediately banned from posting in future.

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    Benefit claiming tenants should be alerted to when they're wasting their time.

    They won't get these properties whether they're warned in advance or waste their time applying for them.

    Surely advance warning is kindest and saves everyone time and money?

    Yet another loony leftie policy that harms those it claims to help.

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    Are banks discriminating with mortgage terms that stipulate properties must not be let to those on benefits? What about rental guarantee providers, which will only cover missed payments by tenants who have passed a credit-worthiness test (i.e. exclude those on benefits)? I recently let a property with a sizeable mortgage and would not have done so without a rental guarantee product, in such uncertain times. Who's discriminating here - me, or the multinational insurance company?


    Neither. Both are exercising common sense.

    Next thing is the lefties will want to outlaw credit reference agencies and abolish criminal records etc.

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    I have no issue in renting to people on benefits and recently advertised a property to let and had over 20 enquiries. Weeding out the undesirable applicants, working and non working still leaves a decent pool to choose from. The bottom line though is that landlords should be able to let out their property to whoever they want.

    • 18 December 2020 16:46 PM

    If they are on benefits, there is no way they get my properties......

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    The media and left are drowning in their own woke. Risk assessment is part of any buisness decision. Why should housing be any different? There are far too many liars and cheats out for what they can get at the expense of others. I am kind, fair and a generous person to people with the same decent morals.
    The sooner the wokists understand this, the sooner genuine vulnerable people will again get my support. Bully me and you most definitely will not.

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    My understanding of the ruling in question was that the discrimination was against women and disabled people as they were more likely to be on benefits than other groups. The bottom line is that the PRS falls into 2 groups - working and non-working. The price charged and standard of property reflect which group is the target market. Low income people applying for high value property will not usually pass the affordability criteria or credit check - if those checks have to be done there is a cost to someone, which is ultimately passed on in rent increases. The 'No benefits' line generally saves everyone time and money. We can remove it but the result will be the same - the working tenant will get the rental.

    You can change the language but not the reality.


    Tricia. That discrimination against women and disabled was just an underhand ploy to get the ruling through. We can all see it.

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    Are we allowed to say Benefit tenants that qualify for rent guarantee insurance welcome?

  • PossessionFriendUK PossessionFriend

    New advertisement -
    " Tenants in receipt of Benefit with a suitable ( Unlimited liability ) guarantor, which may be Shelter or the Local Authority, MOST welcome. "


    Great idea, but when it comes to paying many “guarantors” just won’t pay up in our experience. Been doing this for 40 years.


    Our home owner guarantors do as they know the hassle of a CCJ is powerful. Normally one call to the guarantor mentioning what will happen and money magically appears. Btw non home owning guarantors equivalent to Monopoly money don’t bother mate


    I have found the same as Jahan. No doubt the lefties will complain this is yet more discrimination but it's just life. Get used to it!

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    I've just heard the same nonsense spouted on the BBC Radio 4 money programme.

    The NRLA guy did well in attacking the benefits system and defending landlords but the leftie rabble rouser actually pushed for discrimination against working tenants as their income was less secure than benefits!

    Surely they would also have recourse to the benefits system if needed,so why should we discriminate on the basis of someone's risk of losing income?

    Surely we should give the working tenants the benefit of the doubt?

    The BBC presenter actually suggested we were letting people down. If our properties are left empty then that might be a justified suggestion but if we're letting to hard working tax paying tenants then surely we're making our contribution to the economy?

    After all,if we don't get paid rent then we don't pay taxes, a lot of which gets paid out in benefits.

    Incidentally, the programme also referred to Shelter as a housing charity - shows how thorough their research was! Shelter is breaching the trades descriptions act describing itself with either word!

  • PossessionFriendUK PossessionFriend

    Shelter are a ; Rogue Tenant Legal defense organisation, Part Govt funded and mis-appropriating charitable donations under the guise of 'housing' from organisations that earn profit from landlords, e.g. Nationwide, Legal & General, B&Q etc
    Landlords - be more circumspect where you take your business !
    - they don't ' house ' anyone
    The 95% of legally compliant tenants should be up in arms about the effects that so-called Tenant support groups are causing in their name. - But they'll find out when Sec 21 goes.


    Totally agree. Landlords don't want to evict good tenants and Shelter etc. just prevent other decent tenants from getting homes by protecting the rogues and feckless rent dodgers.

    Encouraging tenants to stay put and build up unaffordable debts and trashed credit ratings is reckless in the extreme. Any properly qualified legal advisor should be struck off for advising such a course of action!

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    In 30 yrs the only tenants I've evicted have been the non payers.


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