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Legal victory over 'No DSS' BTL landlords

Buy-to-let landlords must not discriminate against benefit claimants, a court has ruled. 

A court case in York has 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 are against equality laws.

The government last year launched a crackdown on BTL landlords and letting agents posting ‘no DSS’ adverts discriminating against tenants claiming housing benefit.

Around 20% of people living in rented accommodation in the UK receive housing benefit. 

Responding to a court case in York which has ruled that it is unlawful for landlords to discriminate in this way, Chris Norris, policy director for the National Residential Landlords Association, commented: “No landlord should discriminate against tenants because they are in receipt of benefits. Every tenant’s circumstance is different and so they should be treated on a case by case basis based on their ability to sustain a tenancy.

“More broadly, the government can also support this work by ensuring benefits cover rents entirely. It should also convert the loans to cover the five week wait for the first payment of Universal Credit into grants.”

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.

Poll: Do you accept that refusing DSS tenants is discrimination?


  • Mark Wilson

    With mass unemployment on the horizon, tenants claiming benefit is only set to rise so the importance of this decision will resonate.

    Not surprising to see NRLA making totally unrealistic calls yet again. When are they going to learn that they are only backing losers, as are the less savoury participants on this site.

    • 14 July 2020 14:08 PM

    More claimants for benefits? Shame. Serves them right! They should have worked harder, spent less, and saved more.

    James B

    There is no importance in this decision.. the owner can rightly still choose the tenant they see fit and reject for any reason they wish to say

  • icon

    what is the point of the nrla--its not discrimination--its common sense


    Of course it's common sense, the chances of getting the rent paid from tenants on benefits is low, and from past experience lower still where single mums are concerned , it's the councils responsibility to home these people

  • Just Mogler

    There would be less of a problem if the government reversed the 'Prescott' imposed law which paid the benefit direct to the tenant, who is sometimes unreliable, and enabled the benefit to be paid to the landlord from day 1

    Just Mogler

    ...to add...what would most LLs do if the tenant lost work and then went onto housing benefit...how would they know as well?. Would they then issue S21? Don't discriminate on day 0. Use common sense., Guarantor?

    PossessionFriendUK PossessionFriend

    There would be .. ' less of a problem ' - if Shelter stood as Guarantor for benefit tenants, instead of taking legal action for sound business decisions.

    Andrew Adnell

    Well said.

  • Matthew Payne

    Nothing will change until the government gets rid of the clawback. There are a million reasons why an agent or landlord can reject a tenants application, all this means is they can no longer have a one size fits all "No DSS" policy which most have stopped doing anyway. There is also the constant threat of HMG meddling with the eligibility criteria behind the scenes meaning that there is also the risk that the government themselves might prevent the rent from being paid at some point in the future.

    Chris should have gone further to say rents paid that are due will never be clawed back from landlords and they are gauranteed to be paid until the end of the tenancy, so removing eligibilty from the equation. IF HMG agreed to that, they might well see a change in behaviour.

    I dont see it is any different to some who may reject a tenant with pets or students, concerned at the risk of high wear and tear and upsetting the neighbours. RIsk exists in one form or another in different ways, and some landlords are more comfortable with some than others, but it is there choice nonetheless which they want to expose themselves to. The government and the courts can't have it both ways. You must accept our DSS tenants, but we might stop the rent being paid or demand it back whenever we want.

  •  G romit

    This a completely hollow victory as I suspect not a single tenant on benefits will be helped by this. Shelter are milking this for all the PR they can get to boost flagging donations.

    Credit worthiness will be tightened so prospective tenants have prove income of 4x rent, current employer reference + last 3 months payslips, previous 3 landlord references, no CCJs, UK homeowner guarantor, etc. etc.

  • icon

    The ban on tenants on benefits negatively affects the disabled. It should never have been allowed.

    • 14 July 2020 13:45 PM

    Oh yes...Another for my list:

    NOBODY and any benefit of any kind whatsoever.
    Don't care what's wrong with them.


    At this point, David, I’m beginning to think that your account is satirical.

  • icon

    Of course a 'blanket ban' on DHSS claimants is discriminatory. Equally discriminatory are bans on the grounds of age, gender, sexuality, disability, religion, and race. A landlord's ban on pets is fine (except guide dogs) though. A ban on smokers is fine too. But a ban on students is not fine - it is indirect age discrimination. But 'Professionals only' is not fine - that's discrimination on grounds of social class - not illegal but thoroughly reprehensible. In the end it comes down to the individual - their ability to pay the rent with or without DHSS - their character references, their credit score, and how they interview.

    • 14 July 2020 13:38 PM

    Why discriminating as it is my property, and I must have the right to say to anyone wanting MY property?

    Don't see how they can tell I was/am discriminating.

    Even if they try to do anything, I can just walk away from it and try somewhere else..

    • 14 July 2020 13:42 PM

    There is always other words I would use.

    1 No crooks
    2 No thieves
    3 No Feckless tenants
    4 No Boozers
    5 No ex prisoners or con men/women
    6 No CCJ holders
    7 No previous evictees
    8 No non rent payers - even for 1 month
    9 No filthy and disgusting way of living tenants


    A ban on students is plain common sense. They have special requirements such as bare concrete floors and walls that can't be destroyed and which amenable to industrial steam cleaning. I was a student once.

    David, are you a landlord? I think not.

  • icon

    OK, so we can't advertise "no DSS and no self-employed", but of course as soon as they declare their source of income, each landlord will have to decide for themselves the likelihood of the tenant sustaining the tenancy. It's not going to make a blind bit of difference to most landlords' decisions.

    Has anyone ever tried enforcing a homeowner guarantee? In my experience, not worth the paper it's written on. Ditto trying to get a CCJ enforced: the ex-tenant disappears, or declares themselves "self-employed" to avoid an attachment of earnings order, or decalres themselves bankrupt. It's so, so easy for tenants to avoid paying their debts, and just a total waste of time for the landlord, except the CCJ might help warn off future landlords .

    Answer: CCJs should be deducted from the debtor's annual NIC and income tax allowances, so the HMRC collects the debt over time from debtors and reimburses the landlord, for a small fee of course.

  • icon

    Well, I have a blanket ban on DSS claimants and always will do until my mortgage terms change along with my buildings insurance.

    • 14 July 2020 13:34 PM

    Excellent idea.
    No DSS
    No single Mothers
    No pets
    No children under 15
    No décor changes
    No long term "mates"
    Or anything else I decide to have in MY contract as I want it.
    If the prospective tenant does not like it, then OK by me. They can just go.


    Why no single mothers?

  • icon

    DSS tenant status comes with caveats and conditions unlike private tenants and they're supported by ridiculous legal rights bestowed to them at the inevitable expense in emotions and ££££££'s to the landlord.
    The rental stream can be disrupted/stopped by either the tenant or the DSS themselves for the most implausible reasons outside the landlords control. The DSS tenant can and does exploit this for their own betterment towards being rehoused by the council. Further, the councils advise the errant DSS tenants to force the landlord to further costs of eviction, to 'qualify'for consideration of being rehoused by them. The discrimination card being the joker, has been turn face up in the game for far too long. I will always seek a private tenant with good financial status and moral standing over the more volatile characteristics I have sadly experienced with DSS; Never, ever again!!!!!

  • icon
    • 14 July 2020 15:07 PM

    Surely a LL considers each tenant from the perspective of business risk.
    These risks change.
    Under normal circumstances I would never at the outset of a tenancy take on a DSS tenant.

    But if as things are then I would not evict a DSS tenant even though it would breach my current ridiculous mortgage conditions.
    The lender would never find out.
    Though of course I would be taking a massive business risks as if a lender found out they could financially destroy me!!

    As an aside I believe Govt should ban immediately any restrictive conditions that lenders and insurers have for DSS tenants.

    However if the now DSS tenant converted from perhaps a Professional tenant then I would still evict if the FULL CONTRACTUAL RENT wasn't paid.

    Substantial numbers of former professional tenants would be able to make up the difference between HB and the rent by secret cash payments to the LL.
    Obviously they wouldn't be able to do with the DWP knowledge as that would result in less HB being granted.
    The DSS is not concerned about any other payments as all they will pay is the UC.
    For many savvy people they will remove any savings and hold as cash.
    Having savings just subsidises Govt welfare.

    Now as far as DSS tenants at the outset of a tenancy no way will I ever do so.
    This is because my East Herts District Council require a valid AST to be provided by the tenant before they are assessed for HB!!!

    What sane LL would EVER issue an AST in such circumstances.

    Personally I have nothing against DSS tenants per se.
    It is the completely dysfunctional UC process I have issues with.
    For me UC is a BUSINESS risk I choose NOT to take at the outset of a tenancy.
    I have a lovely vacant 2 bed flat.
    No way will I take on any DSS tenant.
    Pretty IRRELEVANT though as the LHA rate is less than half what I charge!!

    LL are discriminating against the DSS system NOT the tenants themselves who are mostly good people.

    As an aside from this post the most effective way to persuade LL to take on DSS tenants is to change the dysfunctional eviction process in cases of rent defaulting only.
    Indeed the S21 process could be retained but only for FAULT BASED RENT DEFAULTING.
    But I would have no Court interference.
    At the expiry of a 2 month notice the tenants would be removed by the LL with Police assistance if necessary.
    Of course if rent was paid before the notice expired then the LL would withdraw from evicting.
    This being the case it should be the case that 2 months rent is allowed as a deposit.
    Any more than this creates a Premium Tenancy which no sane LL would EVER want.
    It is largely the dysfunctional eviction process in cases of rent defaulting that causes most LL to decline HB tenants

  • Mark Wilson

    As I said this morning there are some less than savoury participants on this site and Mr Crisp takes the biscuit yet again. When one reads his messages and between them there is no wonder why the BTL sector has become marginalised and vilified by the populous. By public pressure Government is left no choice but to make structural changes. Mr Crisp congratulations, you are Generation Rent and Shelters best friend!

    • 14 July 2020 19:18 PM

    I think you'll find that most LL feel the same way as Mr Crisp...Tough if Shelter or GR don't like it.
    If further anti-LL policies are introduced LL can easily adjust their business model.
    This will result in fewer rental properties.

    We LL don't care about that.
    Our yields will be the same just from fewer less leveraged properties.

    We LL simply don't care how many tenants we are forced to make homeless.
    It is bonkers Govt policies that are forcing LL to downsize.
    I honestly believe Govt; Shelter and GR won't be satisfied until all small LL are eradicated.
    I'm fine with that as I intend to be a lodger LL with no more than 4 unrelated occupiers in multiple residential properties.
    So NOT subject to stupid tenancy regulations.
    I will just be staying at each of my hoped for residential properties once per month.
    Of course that means no families or couples.
    Just single unrelated lodgers.

    Good LL like Mr Crisp and myself tell it as it is.
    We simply don't care if feathers are ruffled.
    We are aware that we are war with social deviants like Shelter etc.
    If Shelter win it will be tenants that suffer NOT LL.

    • 14 July 2020 19:32 PM

    If the tenant behaves and does what they committed to do, then I have no problem.
    If they break the rules, then for sure I will use all tools that are allowed to me.

    Full stop.

    As soon as these feckless good for nothings step out of line, then they get everything they deserve.

    Simple really. Play the game and we all win. Lie, cheat and steal, and you get problems.

    I don't see any other issues.

    • 14 July 2020 19:38 PM

    I have no issues with Shelter.
    They do what they do which is nothing.

    I look after my business. Which I do very well.

    Break the rules, and like everything else in tis world, you must pat for it.

    Simple. And easy.

    And how would you feel if you lent your car to someone and they totalled it, and then decided that it is your problem and cost to fix it. And they walked away and you had to pay all the costs, and loss of assets and payments.

    And this person happens to do this continuously to you and many others, with no retribution whatsoever after you had worked hard all your life and they screw you over and over, and suffer no consequences.

    And then you are called the bad boy!!!!!

    My case rests.

    Jon Wilson

    Paul. what you propose to avoid regulation would be completely illegal, yet Shelter are “social deviants”!!??

    Landlord comments sections: making the case for more regulation on a daily basis

  • icon

    At the end of the day, it's MY BLOODY HOUSE, that I have to pay for, Dont tell me who i have to risk my future welfare and finances renting MY house out to. I decide who rents it, not the bloody council, government, the law, or any other wasteful, usless and cluless organisation. If the uc payment system wa not so patheticly badly set up and organised against LL and the majority of benift teneans weren't so lazy, feckless, destructive and dishonest many LLs would be happy to rent to them. People need to stop the pc bulshite, fannying around and call out all the bullshite for what it is.

    • 14 July 2020 19:42 PM

    Excellent. I think I love you.

    • 14 July 2020 20:19 PM

    Unfortunately whilst everything you state is totally correct it is NOT how the usual idiots like Shelter consider things.

    These idiots consider that they every right to utilise your acumen and capital for free as you are an evil LL!!

    I know of no other business where the State effectively sanctions theft from private individuals.
    Yet this is what occurs when tenants don't pay rent.
    I believe I would end up dining in one of Her Majesty's Establishments if I decided to retain a hire car and not pay the rent on it.

    Same as walking out of a supermarket with a trolleyload of food.
    All criminal offences.
    But tenants stealing from a LL by not paying rent seems to be perfectly acceptable to society........why!?

    Theft is theft but not it seems if you are a tenant DEFAULTING on rent.
    So completely FECKLESS.

  • icon
    • T L
    • 14 July 2020 19:19 PM

    Dear Mr Wilson, if it is my house I will decide who lives in it. End of story.

  • icon
    • 14 July 2020 19:47 PM

    T L

    You have every right, morally and sensibly to allow whosoever you want to be in YOUR house and however you want that to be.
    Sod interfering do goody good left wingers, or meddling Governments, who have no business in meddling to the extent they do in a Laissez Faire economy.

    Clearly I am a little right of centre, but these days even Boris is becoming a committed Marxist, like most of them.

    They should review the whole set up and let the business run itself as most other enterprise are allowed to.

    It is NOT their business to interfere how I use my assets. None at all.

  • icon
    • N P
    • 14 July 2020 21:07 PM

    I have no issue taking on DSS tenants who pass a viewing, credit check and can provide a guarantor IF THE SYSTEM WAS FIT FOR PURPOSE. I recently decided to take on a DSS tenant for the first time last month. The council had several weeks notice but despite this failed to pay the rent and deposit on move-in day and they had the cheek to say I should sign the legally binding contract and hand over the keys anyway. The poor guy had nowhere to go so I took the risk. We then had to chase several times for the rent and deposit. This is what happens with my first experience. Doesn’t give much faith going forward. I told the council I won’t be doing it again not because a tenant is DSS but because their system is broken. If a company’s customer service is appalling you don’t use them again, that’s not you discriminating against the product.

    • 14 July 2020 22:57 PM

    Indeed.......I was caught one too.
    NEVER again.

    And then the Local Housing people often wanted me to go again.

    NO CHANCE. They messed it up for themselves through in terminal and useless beaurocracy.

    More fool them!

  • icon

    Yes nail on head there NP we have all been caught, but we don't get caught twice do we ?

  • icon

    The councils have more to account than the supposedly rogue private landlords, based upon my experience working directly for them in their environmental & housing departments. Some housing associations of my experience are equally deficient too. it's a mess overseen by incompetent personnel.

  • icon
    • 14 July 2020 22:28 PM


    You assert that as a good LL you are a little right of centre.
    I have to say I totally disagree.

    If you are that must make me an extreme Fascist!!!

    Something if this was the case that I would rejoice in.

    However from what I have seen of your posts you are a good LL with a positive attitude.
    You also seem to expect that tenants comply with the terms of their AST and that if they don't you expect to be easily able to remove them.

    Now for the life of me I can see nothing remotely right-wing in the way you conduct business!!

    Quite funnily and I think I may have regaled LL Today with this little story.
    I was attempting to assist someone on FB to source a rental property.
    Anyway it came down to methods of operating.

    I advised that in the very rare event that I accepted DSS tenants I would require the UC to credited to a tenant Credit Union account so that the FULL CONTRACTUAL RENT was paid to me before the tenant could access any remaining UC.

    This person accused me of being a fascist for this operating methodology!!!!

    This just confirms to me that many of these DSS tenant types are feckless.

    But certainly neither you nor I could in any way be accused of being right-wing as all we are is wanting tenants to pay the FULL CONTRACTUAL RENT on time.

    Since when is paying for a service meant that service provider of whatever type is considered right-wing!!!!???

    Believe me you aren't right-wing at all.
    You just expect to be paid for the service you provide and that tenants conform to AST conditions.

  • Suzy OShea

    Paul Barett,

    You are totally right! Politics is irrelevant in business! But it is everyone's right to hold what political beliefs they please!

    We have all been stung by the feckless, disruptive, destructive, violent and thieving tenant. therefore, our business model to avoid such state-licensed criminals is a basic human right of self-defence! We must rely on our own means of self-defence because this excrable, corrupt, tyrannical brexiteer government has declared open season on the smaller private LL. Someone on here lamented the councils' broken system and inefficiencyI! Its all part of the government plan to discriminate against the jobless, who for too many decades have made more money milking the system than they could ever earn, especially if they have children. On Cameron's watch, he exposed how the average tax-payer was being ripped off by the determinedly unemployable and the soul food of UC with all its penury and painful delays was set up! Since this then is the chosen discriminatory mechanism by consecutive Conservative governments to force the career bone idle to work, is it not our bounden civic duty, as upstanding citizens and tax-payers who pay for this system, to support the governments initiatives to force people back to work. Restricting the choice of property available to unemployed tenants, is merely maintaining government policy to discourage tax-payer funded idleness!

  • icon
    • 15 July 2020 12:36 PM


    At last we are getting some straight talking about the organisation of this business, and it is about time we open up even more and faster in order to shut down the disproportionate voice of the loony left and nutter do goody good liberals.

    Let's get real for once.

  • luigi kippelwich

    It is not questionable that banks nor institutions lend DSS claimants big loans; they are not discriminatory except in terms of affordability, and so should landlords be. It is not a matter of discrimination but of good business practice.
    Perhaps Shelter et al should give the 'feckless' their properties and huge income they've squirrelled away.

  • icon
    • 15 July 2020 22:57 PM


    Please advise on what illegality I am proposing.

    I believe I know far more about regulations than you.
    Which is why you need to pay attention to my words.

    If you did you would know there is no illegality.
    If you wish me to educate you then happy to enlighten you.

    After all we want ALL LL to understand regulations.
    However where perhaps you and I may be in agreement is that ALL LL should be licenced and required to undergo CPD training once every 5 years.
    LL licence for 5 years should be no more than £150.

    Tenants have the right to expect their LL has undergone a Nationally accepted level of training.
    I also believe there should be a LL licence for those who take in lodgers or regular 'guests'.

    There would of course be different licence knowledge with the nation states.
    But if a LL has properties in all 4 countries then 4 licences would be required.

    I am all for COMPULSORY LL education.
    Indeed I contend that no new LL should be allowed to become one BEFORE they have undergone suitable CPD training.

    However my knowledge is up to date as far as I am concerned.
    But I accept nobody can know everything which is why I would not object to CPD training with a licence issued afterwards.

    I have undergone a similar CPD process with HGV training.
    Cost me £250 for 5 days of training.
    I have been a HGV/PSV driver for 30 years.
    At no point did I consider the CPD useless.
    Far from it.

    I have no issue at all with being licenced every 5 years once I have passed the CPD training.
    Introducing such would remove the many hundreds of thousands of criminal LL that currently operate in the PRS.
    There are many LL that don't consider themselves az criminals.
    A classic example is where a LL lets to HB tenants in direct breach of mortgage conditions.
    That LL is committing FRAUD.

    Another one is where a residential property with a residential mortgage has a tenant where no CTL has been sought is FRAUD.

    There are about 300000 of these fraudulent LL types.
    I could go on further about the FRAUD that continues on a regular basis.

    LL licencing would reveal all this fraud which is why there will NEVER be a comprehensive LL licensing scheme.

  • Jon Wilson

    I can’t actually advise you Paul, as you requested. This would be a conflict of interest. Nice try though. That’s the entrepreneurial spirit we love. Much like the £150 cost for landlord training you hope for. Not really the market rate though is it? Why should the taxpayer subsidise your qualifications?
    Good luck living in 4 places as your only or principal home by the way!

    • 16 July 2020 08:51 AM

    Yep. I do this once per week at a different property.
    Only one of my flats is a PPR.
    4 lots of Council Tax in my name.
    Unfortunately only one SPD allowed.
    But sleeping around benefits me.
    Council thought it bizarre but they accept I can move 20 metres to one of my flats in the same block.
    As for education all I am proposing is that LL should be licenced.
    I'm not after cheap education at all.
    I reckon £300 every 5 years is a fair price to obtain a LL licence.
    The licence itself would be no more than £150.
    So every 5 years £450 to operate as a LL.

    Just like in the transport industry all new drivers had to undergo the CPD training before they could drive for a living.
    It then took about 5 years to train all the other drivers.

    If LA and EA are to be licenced etc I don't see why LL shouldn't be.

    Perhaps then the stupid Selective Licensing schemes etc can be done away with.


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