The practice of refusing to rent homes to those in receipt of housing benefit has been ruled unlawful this week, but insisting on ‘No DSS’ should not be considered discrimination, according to the majority of BTL landlords polled yesterday.
The survey of more than 200 landlords from across the UK, carried out by Landlord Today, has revealed that 69% of buy-to-let landlords do not ‘accept that refusing DSS tenants is discrimination’.
In a case that was heard at the York County Court, a 44-year-old disabled single mother of two challenged a letting agent for rejecting her application for a privately rented property on the basis of her being in receipt of housing benefit.
District Judge Victoria Elizabeth Mark ruled that the tenant had experienced indirect discrimination, with the letting agent found to have breached the Equality Act.
But despite this ruling, landlords have hit back at claims of ‘No DSS’ discrimination.
One landlord commenting on Landlord Today stated yesterday that “there is no importance in this [court] decision”.
He added: “The owner [landlord] can rightly still choose the tenant they see fit and reject for any reason they wish to say.”
Another landlord commented: “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 one”.
The comments from landlords continued: “There would be .. ' less of a problem ' - if Shelter stood as Guarantor for benefit tenants, instead of taking legal action for sound business decisions.”
Another landlord stated: “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.”
And finally, “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.”
You can read all the comments, by clicking here.