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Shelter welcomes ruling on discrimination against families

Shelter says it welcomes a ruling by The Property Ombudsman that agents and landlords exercising a blanket ban on tenants with children may be guilty of discrimination.

Last week TPO - one of two redress bodies for letting agents - ruled that an agency’s ban on renting to a family with children was discriminatory against women and contravened its code of practice. 

Now Rose Arnall, a solicitor at Shelter, says: "No one should be barred from finding a safe and stable home simply because they have children. Whether you can secure a home must not be based on a landlord or letting agent's baseless prejudices about the 'type' of tenant you might be. This is a great step forward in addressing the power imbalance which sees tenants hitting unfair barriers and being forced to jump through ridiculous hoops."


The TPO ruling - which, unusually, does not name any letting agency concerned - came after NHS Nurse Lexi Levens challenged a number of agents after she and her four children had been forced to register as homeless. That came following receipt of a Section 21 eviction notice: she and her husband passed affordability checks but say they were not able to find landlords or letting agents who would rent to them.

Shelter took up the case to The Property Ombudsman which has ruled that ‘no children’ bans breach equality rules set out in its code of practice because women are disproportionately affected.

Levens says in a statement released via Shelter: “My situation was nothing short of distressing and humiliating. I’m so thrilled by the outcome of the challenge, this has never been about money for me, but about putting a stop to families like mine being treated unfairly.”

The director of policy at TPO, Peter Habert, comments: “Whilst rental properties are investments for landlords, they are homes for tenants. To be excluded from a significant portion of the homes available simply because you have children cannot be considered as treating consumers equally.

“Prospective tenants should only expect to see these restrictions in property adverts and listings if the property is unsuitable, for example it doesn’t have enough space.”

He warns that agents who receive an instruction from a landlord to not let to families should ask the client to provide evidence of why a ban is appropriate and for this to be given to prospective tenants.

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    And they employ Solicitors as well as six figure CEOs. Shelter the charity / business that houses no one.

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    Landlords WILL decide who they let too, no one else.

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    I don't discriminate, just select.......but aren't these just two sides of the same coin?

    With the SNP banning fixed term tenancies in Scotland I now routinely select groups of students who won't stay indefinitely instead of families who do want to stay indefinitely.....but discrimination? Me? NEVER!!!!!

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    How many of these families are turned down because they are applying for the wrong size properties?
    How many people understand the rules on sharing bedrooms in rented housing?
    How many understand that if a landlord allows overcrowding they risk a fine and being placed on a rogue landlord register?

    How many prospective tenants don't read the property description before applying for a viewing?
    I had a room in an HMO advertised last week as for single occupancy only. Several couples and people with children asked for viewing appointments. Why? Which bit of "single occupancy" in any way indicates they would be able to rent it?

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    I'll let to a stable family with two working parents with pleasure, I won't rent a family living off benefits though, social housing is the place for them


    Even with 2 working parents a lot of families are still entitled to UC top ups, especially if they're paying for childcare.


    Jo top ups are different to living off benefits with little or no work


    Andrew - I get your point about the long-term unemployed, don't want a job brigade.
    However, there's a whole range between that and 2 working parents. Where do we draw the line?
    Is a working widow OK?
    A single parent working in the NHS as a consultant (on a 2 year contract from New Yealand)?
    A married couple with self-employed or gig economy income?
    A couple with the mother on maternity leave and no firm intention of returning to work?
    What about when the nice stable family gets divorced? Does the entire family lose their home as well?


    Jo there's always exceptions to every rule, some yrs ago I had a family separate, one young child, the lady got herself a job, 16 hrs a week (funnily enough with a housing assoc' couldn't she tell some tales !) the lady was as good as gold and the rent was always paid, I have 2 widows, 1 working part time with good savings and pension, the other just turned 90, both of them never a problem, self employed ? well having been self employed myself the past 45 yrs I would consider them subject to accounts and probably a guarantor, and yes I also have a couple the lady about to go onto maternity leave, but I have her Father as guarantor, so as I say there are always exceptions

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    I agree with Andrew, I only let to families where both parents work full time as less likely they won't be able to pay rent when due. If one parent loses their job there is still one working parent to pay rent. I don't let to single parents simply because higher risk if they lost their job no one left working to pay the rent. I never rent to people on benefits who don't work. I can't stop my taxes being given to these people but I can stop them getting into one of my houses.

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    In this article it's not clear if the mother is living with the husband. A mother with 4 children would be a high risk for a landlord.


    High risk John ? your kidding, it would be financial suicide

  • Angst Landlordy

    What's even more stark is how this mother/father/parents of 4, seemingly, do not/have not qualified for social housing, why?

    Should solicitor's not be fighting for this family to have a foot in the door of social housing... I jest, this would never happen these days!!

    Examples like this only highlight the fantastic job landlord's have been doing with the burden brought on by d@mn useless government with countless inept polices,

    Criticisms always skewed against landlords as it's always our fault!! Yet, as a business we are only reacting to market conditions, as all good businesses do, again, crises conditions brought on by decades of subsequent failed governments housing policies.

    Stop blaming the landlords, like it or not Landlords have been doing quite an impressive job.


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