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Shelter says many landlords think they can get away with discrimination

A BBC investigation into ‘No DSS’ statements on two prominent landlord websites has provoked campaigning charity Shelter into an attack on the entire lettings sector.

Although the BBC probe - which we reported on Friday here - found fewer than one per cent of Zoopla and Rightmove rental listings carried No DSS or similar statements, 80 per cent of listings on SpareRoom and OpenRent did carry such notices.

The BBC suggested may constitute illegal discrimination under the 2010 Equality Act. 


Now Shelter has reacted, saying ”many landlords and letting agents are yet to heed the warning, and still think they can get away with baseless and blatant discrimination.”

Despite the almost complete absence of the problem on the portals, Shelter claims in a blog that ”one thing is clear: this is an industry-wide problem” and says “too many renters continue to be on the receiving end of housing benefit discrimination and too many letting agents and private landlords are ignoring the law.”

The charity claims that all major mortgage lenders and insurers have now removed their No DSS clauses, meaning landlords have no reason to bar benefit claimants.  

Shelter goes on to say: “Landlords and letting agents must sit up and pay attention to these rulings, and make sure they are acting within the law.  They must treat all renters equally and decide their suitability based on whether they can afford the rent, not where their income comes from.”



Earlier this year a court case in York ruled that blanket bans on claimants are strictly forbidden, on the grounds of discrimination.

The court ruling found a single mother-of-two had experienced indirect discrimination when a letting agent refused to rent to her. She ended up homeless with her two children, but the judge ruled ‘No DSS’ rental bans were against equality laws.

Then a second court issued a similar ruling. 

Stephen Tyler, who is disabled, successfully argued that ‘No DSS’ discrimination was unlawful and in breach of the Equality Act after he was prevented from viewing properties listed with a letting agency Birmingham estate agent due to the fact that he was receiving housing benefit.  

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Poll: Is it discrimination to say 'No DSS'in a property listing?


Join the conversation

  • icon

    The reality is you can discriminate how do you monitor this. We have the right (still) to decide who we want to rent to based on many factors.
    It’s the equivalent of saying ‘I’m applying for a job and don’t worry I can do it & no I’m not giving you a CV or having an interview’ Don’t rate your chances somehow

  • icon

    Fine so we cannot put NO DSS or similar statements in adds, still will not be renting to them without a cast iron home owning guarantor, we may be the scum of the earth in some peoples eyes, I can live with that, but don't take us for mugs .

    • 21 December 2020 09:22 AM

    If it comes to that, then all I will say is nothing about DSS etc, just that I have decided to charge £15,000 per month, and that is my last offer.
    If they take it, then OK, if not then OK.

    • 21 December 2020 09:38 AM

    Or add in to MY CONTRACT - (NOT THEIRS) that I want a £25,000 clause that has to be paid each year due to damage, anti social behaviour or animal damage and lack of care of the garden.

  • icon
    • 21 December 2020 09:27 AM

    Excellent - And rightly so.....!
    And no CCJ holders...!!!!!!

  • Mark Wilson

    This group is just so out of tune, exit via the gift shop.

  • icon

    You're a funny man Mark, keep it up, a laugh a day, merry Christmas mate.


    Don't know why Wilson bothers with this site - most miserable,negative b#gger around

  • icon

    I like to keep repeating the truth. SHELTER THE CHARITY (business) THAT HOUSES NO ONE

  • icon
    • 21 December 2020 10:21 AM

    Agreed...They are a leech on everyone. And how can they get paid so much for doing ZERO.......

  • icon

    Sorry, everyone, but non-discrimination is the law of the country, as the article above correctly states. Of course landlords can 100% choose who their tenants will be - as long as they don't discriminate against any particular grouping. 'My property, my conditions'? Well yes - as long as you keep to the law. Some people still remember the signs in windows in the 60's stating: 'No blacks, no Irish, no dogs' etc. Do we really want to go back to the days when discrimination against certain groups in society was rife? Some contributors above want to discriminate but in a less explicit way - make rent £15,000 a month for certain groups, no daily curry, etc. As if that's OK. It is not. A court would take a dim view of this. Assess the individual who wants to be your tenant, not the social grouping they belong to. And keep to the law of the country. 'Drop a bomb on them'? - I just despair ............. What kind of society are we becoming?

    • 21 December 2020 10:30 AM

    Why can't I say I want £15,000 per month for my property???????

    It is my right to charge what I want to rent my property for. If the potential tenant does not want to pay that, then that's fine by me.

  • icon

    I don't know why Shelter and other Groups are making this such a hot potato issues obviously they can if they want with dozens of in House lawyers, we have no one. I remember a time when some LL's were looking for DSS only before the clamp down because it was abused just like everything that's public funded is abused. I remember the Iranian Family of 7 in Acton (father not present living else where) getting housed by a Benefit LL at a cost of £12'000.00 pm for the house guaranteed money, at that time in this Borough of Ealing the most expensive rental Houses was at a maximum of £3k pm and very rare. When LL's were looking for DSS only no protest, no word from Shelter that I am aware of, no hot potato, so its only Discrimination when it suits.

  • icon

    No one thanked the Investment Bankers for packaging up toxic mortgages so why try doing the same with the rental market with tenants? If ANY tenant can afford the rental based on their income (benefits or otherwise) based on some common-sense checks and previous history - then all good with me. Otherwise - if you cannot afford it or look after it then you cannot have it. That is not discrimination. Affordability is always an emotive topic, but I, acting in a business capacity, am not responsible for fixing the market rate. The market rate is the symptom not the cause.

  • icon

    Perhaps Shelter could offer to stand as guarantors or even rent the proprty and then sublet. Out of 60 tenancies per year over 23 years I have had one DSS who has proved to be ok.

    • 21 December 2020 10:52 AM

    And over 25 years I have had 3 who, with hindsight, I should have known.

    Number 1 was a single mother.
    Number 2 was a DHSS member.
    Number 3 was a dog and cat owner.

    That reminds me......Another 3 CCJ's I need to renew.
    Never will I listen to Letting Agents again.

  • icon

    That’s great! I have no problem with that. But there will be one condition. The DSS or SHELTER or any of these authorities that want landlords to take in those on benefits must give a substantial deposit and I mean a ‘Substantial’ deposit to cover the costs of any damages and court costs etc, to remove those that stop paying their rents.
    I’m not putting all those on benefits in the same category, but you must think of yourselves first and protect your properties so you’re not thousands of pounds out of pocket for ‘doing the right thing’.

  • icon

    One can only hope that one day maybe, just maybe, organisations like Shelter and the like will wake up and smell the coffee and realise that landlords have nothing against doing business with anybody, but it is about the overall behaviour of the tenant and not just about the rent.
    The reality is that whilst most tenants are fine, DSS or otherwise, the proportion of problem tenants is much greater in the DSS sector. Nobody in their right mind puts themselves or their business in harm's way deliberately, just like insurers turn down business that they deem to be too risky based on agreed criteria, or they charge a higher premium to cover extra costs.
    A good DSS tenant is actually an asset in many ways because their income is guaranteed and they have time to look after the house.
    Ironically. the worst tenant I ever had was actually a doctor from abroad in a shared house who was not only very, very unhygienic and sexist but turned really nasty and started to threaten me because of something he disagreed with which I was entitled to do. No problem ever paying the rent, but I would forgo some rent and wait to get someone without the arrogance and vindictiveness that he showed.

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