Housing benefit and tenancy agreements

(59 Posts)
tickertyboo Thu 06-Oct-16 15:06:10

Hello

I was refused a tenancy agreement with a lettings agent because I was on housing benefit.

Are there any other mothers out there who have had the same problem?

I would be very interested to hear. Many thanks.

PoldarksBreeches Thu 06-Oct-16 15:13:06

Loads of mothers have that problem
Your post sounds a bit like you're a journalist- are you?

tickertyboo Thu 06-Oct-16 15:53:43

No I'm not.

I have a claim running for indirect sex discrimination at Birmingham County Court against a letting agent and a landlord for refusing me a tenancy agreement because I am on housing benefit.

I was refused legal assistance from the Equality and Human Rights Commission because the statistics that I used to bring my claim did not demonstrate that more women than men were being refused tenancy agreements because they were on housing benefit. My statistics obtained from my MP do however demonstrate that there are huge numbers of single women on housing benefit, more than any other group.

I'm fed up with this injustice and wish to do something about it, hence my claim.

tickertyboo Thu 06-Oct-16 15:54:36

Single women with children! Like myself.

GingerIvy Thu 06-Oct-16 16:17:55

Wasn't there a thread on this under AIBU recently where some landlords explained that their insurance companies either did not allow or increased their insurance premiums for tenants on housing benefits? confused

iniquity Thu 06-Oct-16 16:31:29

Its not just single mums being discriminated against. Its all families with children now. I wish you every luck with this. I really hope there is a ban on discriminating against families with children in the near future.

olderthanyouthink Thu 06-Oct-16 16:31:48

Yes Ginger is right, it was mostly insurance or mortgages that meant they couldn't let to HB claimants.

iniquity Thu 06-Oct-16 16:34:35

I think there should be laws in place that state if you can't let to anyone you shouldn't be able to let at all. With rentals now taking the place if social housing, I think the rules should be changed.

tickertyboo Thu 06-Oct-16 20:14:00

The landlord in question here did not have an insurance/mortgage document which prevented him from taking on housing benefit claimants. Some do, some don't. There is just this very negative perception amongst letting agents and landlords that those on housing benefit are somehow not to be trusted with paying their rent on time.

Thank you iniquity. I'm plodding on with it regardless, even if they come after me for costs.

olderthanyouthink Thu 06-Oct-16 20:20:03

Another problem landlords cited was if a claim was fraudulent the council can after the landlord for the money back.

I'm not saying it's right, I'm just stating what I've read.

tickertyboo Thu 06-Oct-16 22:08:48

One last thing; some housing benefit claimant statistics for you all, as of February 2016:

Single male with child dependant(s) on housing benefit in the private rented sector: 22,597

Single female with child dependant(s) on housing benefit in the private rented sector: 435,086

Couple with child dependant(s) on housing benefit in the private rented sector: 255,714

And they say this isn't indirect sex discrimination? Makes me very cross.

hesterton Thu 06-Oct-16 22:16:15

Surely that's more to do with the fact that women are much more likely to be the resident parent?

You can only argue your case if you scale it to the proportion of men to women who are caring for their children in the main family home.

tickertyboo Thu 06-Oct-16 22:25:28

Exactly! We're always the ones left carrying the children!

We wouldn't be on sodding housing benefit if we didn't have child care responsibilities. We're stuck in low paid part time jobs so that we can look after our children and run a home. We will also be on H/B longer than anyone else while our children are still dependant on us. We are the ones who are placed more at a disadvantage by this inequitable practice.

CotswoldStrife Thu 06-Oct-16 22:46:34

There are more single-no-dependant claimants (for Housing Benefit) than single parents though. They would also be refused a tenancy. So gender or family status is not the issue here.

hesterton Thu 06-Oct-16 23:13:33

I don't see how you can use the sex status of the claimant as a vehicle for a claim.

The sexual inequality around single parenting is another whole issue I'd agree.

tickertyboo Thu 06-Oct-16 23:19:02

No there aren't. Statistics as of February 2016:

Male single, no child dependant, on housing benefit in the private rented sector: 373,537

Female single, no child dependant, on housing benefit in the private rented sector: 287,777

There are 4.7 million housing benefit claimants in Great Britain, of whom 2.4 are single women.

I can give you more statistics if you wish?

51% of Housing Benefit claimants are single women; 27 % are single men and 22% are couples;

63% of Housing Benefit claimants with children (including single women, single men and couples) are single women;

94% of single claimants with children are women.

These are all statistics obtained from the House of Commons Library, via my very helpful MP.

tickertyboo Thu 06-Oct-16 23:19:49

The sex status is a protected characteristic under the Equality Act 2010.

Bufferingkisses Thu 06-Oct-16 23:22:57

The above just goes to.show, once again, statistics mean little. It's about how you read or present them.

Good.luck with your case.

tickertyboo Thu 06-Oct-16 23:32:40

Thank you Bufferingkisses. I just can't stand there and shrug my shoulders and say 'oh well'. I suspect I'll get nowhere with it because the Equality and Human Rights Commission think my claim is pants. But at least I will have done something .

CotswoldStrife Fri 07-Oct-16 11:10:38

The Equality Commission have pointed out to you that it's not an equality issue. You can't successfully base it on Housing Benefit and ignore the overall stats (which are available at Gov.uk although due to some data being excluded for confidentiality, the totals below don't always add up but I've just copied and pasted!).

To May 2016 - total number of HB claimants - 4,681,714
Single Claimants - 2,527,753 (Male 1,187,802, Female 1,325,542)
Single with Child Dependants - 1,146,461 (Male 57,639, Female 1,078,162)
Couple no Child Dependants - 442,609
Couple with Child Dependants - 564,896

If you look at the tables by age, there is a massive jump after age 65 (for singles) - does make you worry for the future.

I hope you find suitable accommodation for yourself and your family OP, I can sense your determination (and understandable frustration about this issue) because it is a situation that causes a lot of problems for a lot of people. The lack of social housing is a long-standing issue with no quick resolution unfortunately.

tickertyboo Fri 07-Oct-16 20:52:19

The statistics demonstrate that single women with dependant children are the biggest group of housing benefit claimants. What are we supposed to do? I applied for social housing but was considered not to have any housing needs; nor can I obtain a mortgage. We are stuck in the private rental market with nowhere else to go. My house is damp and it aggravates my child's asthma. I would love to move him out of here but no private landlord will touch us with a barge pole.

I am very angry. As I've said before, do I just sit here and do nothing? Why should I accept this very unfair state of affairs? No quick resolution? Yes there is. We can all challenge stuff if we take into into our own hands. That, is why I am doing what I am doing. As a woman, and a mother, I have had enough.

Bufferingkisses Fri 07-Oct-16 22:00:11

To be fair, there being more of us (as a single mother in private rental on hb) does not equal sex discrimination imho.

Yes the situation is wrong, disgraceful by any standards, but not based on sex.

tickertyboo Fri 07-Oct-16 23:15:11

Indirect sex discrimination Bufferingkisses. Not direct. My argument is that the provision, criterion or practice (PCP) of 'no housing benefit claimants' puts more women at a disadvantage than it does men because there are more single women on housing benefit than there are men. The greater the number of us, then it follows that the greater number of us will be placed more at a disadvantage by this PCP.

The PCP applies neutrally to both sexes but we are at more of a disadvantage.

DustyMaiden Sat 08-Oct-16 02:35:55

I accepted a tenant on housing benefit. without my knowledge she moved her boyfriend in and didn't inform the benefits agency. I had to return all of the rent that was fraudulently claimed. Rent can be claimed back for up to 9 years.

If they change this rule I would accept tenants on housing benefit/

tickertyboo Sat 08-Oct-16 09:08:40

How were you prosecuted DustyMaiden? Which law held that you were responsible for her fraudulent behaviour? I would very much like to know.

If you did have did a negative experience of a housing benefit claimant it doesn't mean that all 435,086 of us are going to to do the same. Again, it's so easy for people to slap this label on to us. This shitty stereotype keeps us where we are. I'm not having it and I'll challenge it till I'm blue in the face.

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