Richmond council in London is joining forces with the charity Citizens Advice to help stop what it calls ‘discrimination’ against renters who receive benefits.
It claims that every year large numbers of residents are unfairly locked out of the private rental market for homes because they receive some benefits to pay towards their housing costs.
Research by Citizens Advice Richmond shows that many landlords and letting agents refuse to consider tenants as soon as they discover that they receive benefits.
And the council goes on to claim that people are often confronted with a blanket ‘No DSS’ (Department for Social Security), ‘No Universal Credit’, or ‘No Benefits’ policy even when they can demonstrate they can afford the monthly rent.
The joint campaign to End Benefit Prejudice against renters aims to raise awareness that any policy that automatically outlaws benefit claimants discriminates and is unlawful.
More than 40 per cent Richmond residents who receive benefits are working.
Lorna Reid, chief executive of Citizens Advice Richmond, says: “We know that long-standing myths about tenants receiving benefits are standing in the way of Richmond residents accessing the homes they need and can afford. We are calling on landlords and their letting agents to keep an open mind and treat all prospective renters fairly,
“Too many local people come to us unaware that the barriers they face finding a safe and suitable home are discriminatory and unlawful. This campaign will share stories of good tenants, with regular, reliable income who can afford the rent being asked and will pay on time and show landlords there is no reason to discriminate.”
And councillor Jim Millard, council spokesperson for housing, adds: “All residents need fair and equal opportunities to rent local homes and should not be excluded simply because they receive some form of benefits. We are calling on landlords to assess tenants’ ability to pay as fairly as possible and to avoid discriminating against them.”
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