Rightmove and Zoopla take move to stop housing benefit discrimination
By the end of this month, the two biggest property portals in Britain, Rightmove and Zoopla, will no longer allow ‘No DSS’ lettings listings i.e. those that state tenants who receive housing benefits cannot rent an advertised home.
The decision by the portals is part of a wider stance being taken to stamp out discrimination where landlords have what is called a ‘No DSS’ policy and refuse to rent to those in receipt of benefits.
According to the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, about half of landlords say they would not be willing to let a property to tenants on housing benefit.Some landlords claim they often have no choice but to insert the clauses because mortgage and insurance agreements demand it.
The Work and Pensions Committee is currently carrying out an inquiry into discrimination against benefit claimants in the housing sector. It has already written to mortgage lenders, insurers, property agents and property ad sites with questions about how their policies end up treating people who are trying to rent a home and in receipt of a benefit.
On 24th April, the Committee heard evidence from a selection of each group, as well as a panel of benefit claimants and private landlords, and we now await the outcome of this.However, to make a real difference, lenders and insurers need follow in the property portals’ footsteps and stop the discrimination which often affects women and people with disabilities.
At Caridon Landlord Solutions, we believe all prospective tenants should be given an equal chance of renting a property based on their suitability and be matched to a home that suits both their and the landlord’s requirements.
As the UKs largest property portals, I commend Zoopla and Rightmove for their initiative to remove ‘No DSS’ wording from their websites, especially at a time where there is such as raft of negative news surrounding Universal Credit.For far too long there has been a stigma around Housing Benefit claimants and seeing a ‘No DSS’ advert may make a prospective tenant feel worthless, especially if they have just lost their job through no fault of their own, for example.Equally tenants should not be put at a disadvantage because of their employment status, relationship status or disability. Some single mothers who have no choice but to work part-time because of child care issues will have rent part subsidised by the benefit system. People with disabilities may have no choice not to work as their disability prevents them from doing so.
The Universal Credit system rolls all previous benefit payments into one. As part of this, tenants are expected to manage their monthly budget across household bills and living expenses with little support or guidance. Universal Credit administration is much more complex than its predecessor for both tenants and landlords, and problems have been widely reported.This has caused some landlords to be even more wary of renting to tenants in receipt of housing benefit.
However, as a dedicated service provider specialising in Universal Credit and Housing Benefit advice for private landlords, letting agencies and housing associations, we know that there are solutions that work for everyone, it’s a case of getting the right advice and support.
Our team have extensive experience in helping tenants and landlords who have UC related issues. We can resolve even the most complex situations that arise from this new system and get both parties working together.
Times are changing and preconceptions of tenants on welfare need to follow suit to support a thriving private rented sector.
Let’s see what the future brings!