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.