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"No DSS" unlawful.

(44 Posts)
DGRossetti Mon 26-Feb-18 12:07:47

www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-42979242

The thousands of lettings agents and landlords around the country who reject housing benefit claimants could be flouting equality laws, due a recent legal case.

The widespread practice has led to "no-go zones" for those on lower incomes - especially in desirable residential areas.

But single mother Rosie Keogh won compensation for sex discrimination from a lettings agency that refused to consider her as a tenant because she was on state benefit.

The cleaner and former paralegal successfully argued that blanket bans on benefit claimants indirectly discriminated against women, especially single women.

^This is because they are proportionately more likely to be claiming housing benefit than single men, according to official figures.
Rosie's attempt to rent a property in a smart area of Birmingham in May 2016 was blocked when the lettings agent found she would pay some of the rent via housing benefit.^

(contd).

HarryStylesismycrack Mon 26-Feb-18 12:15:39

It’s not about landlords questioning prospective tenants lifestyle choices or why they’re claiming benefits or being discriminatory. If the terms of the insurance or mortgage prohibit letting to people who are in receipt of benefits then what are they supposed to do?

DGRossetti Mon 26-Feb-18 12:17:38

If the terms of the insurance or mortgage prohibit letting to people who are in receipt of benefits then what are they supposed to do?

The implication is such terms are also unlawful.

MrsSquiggler Mon 26-Feb-18 13:12:00

This is good news - I'm glad someone challenged this.

The blanket bans on benefit claimants also discriminates against those with disabilities.

TheButterflyOfTheStorms Tue 27-Feb-18 04:22:55

The implication is such terms are also unlawful.

Source of income is a protected characteristic in other countries. TBF they normally just price out claimants instead...

RedPandaMama Tue 27-Feb-18 04:46:37

I'm glad this is a thing now. When I was pregnant and looking for a house last year I had just finished uni and was entitled to maternity allowance as I had worked in the past year, but it wasn't a lot and didn't start for a couple of months. I could have got housing benefit and a few other things but didn't simply because no landlords in our town accepted it. There were 12 rental properties within budget on Rightmove and non accepted DSS. We had to use savings instead to support ourselves for that gap in between while also forking out nearly two grand for deposit, first month's rent and fees. Plus furniture and moving costs. It was very stressful and not what I needed at 6 months pregnant.

RebootYourEngine Tue 27-Feb-18 04:52:01

About time.

YimminiYoudar Tue 27-Feb-18 05:28:46

If the terms of the insurance or mortgage prohibit letting to people who are in receipt of benefits then what are they supposed to do?

They are supposed to pay more for insurance and mortgage products that don't make discriminatory exclusions, thus changing the cost/benefit balance of being a BTL landlord and hopefully therefore reducing the rate at which BTL landlords snap up so many of the entry-level properties on the market. Therefore slightly increasing the flow of starter homes which are within the reach of first time buyers and therefore slightly reducing the demand for rental properties. Thus gradually beginning to diffuse the housing crisis.

HopelesslydevotedtoGu Tue 27-Feb-18 05:42:29

If the terms of the insurance or mortgage prohibit letting to people who are in receipt of benefits then what are they supposed to do

Choose different mortgage and insurance products.
And if you can't afford those/ don't qualify for those, then you can't be a landlord.
Housing is a human necessity and in short supply, if you want to make money in the housing market then you have to accept there will be limitations on your business model to ensure it works for society.
We have limitations around what businesses can do in other essentials eg water, electricity.
If you don't want these restrictions then choose a different area of business where the product isn't a human necessity.

MissWimpyDimple Tue 27-Feb-18 05:50:38

Whilst I agree in principle, HB rates in my area do not cover rent. Therefore usually a large top up is required.

This is often not sustainable and leads to arrears.

A non benefit claimant with the same income level would also not pass referencing.

It's not discrimination.

YimminiYoudar Tue 27-Feb-18 06:42:06

If a non benefit claimant with the same income wouldn't pass referencing then there is no need for a "no dss" rule is there?

The point is that if someone's income allows them to afford the rent then it is discriminatory to care whether that income comes all from salary, all from benefits or some combination.

eurochick Tue 27-Feb-18 06:59:10

There used to be some very practical reasons behind this. I'm not sure if the system has changed. Years ago my parents had a flat that they let out. They had no issues with benefits and one of the first tenants was a young woman on benefits. It turned out her claim for housing benefit was fraudulent. My parents, of course, had no way of knowing they. Landlords are in no position to assess this. The fraud was discovered. The tenant did a midnight flit. The authorities reclaimed the fraudulent benefit from my parents. They were hugely out of pocket through no fault of their own.

EllieMe Tue 27-Feb-18 07:05:28

The tenant did a midnight flit. The authorities reclaimed the fraudulent benefit from my parents. They were hugely out of pocket through no fault of their own.

Until this is sorted out we will never let to anyone on housing benefit.

DGRossetti Tue 27-Feb-18 10:02:35

The tenant did a midnight flit. The authorities reclaimed the fraudulent benefit from my parents

(Bells ringing)

I think the reason the benefit now goes to the claimant is to avoid that. When it was paid direct to the landlord, there were (reportedly hmm) industrial-scale fraud factories where dodgy landlords invented dodgy claims and had the benefit paid directly to themselves for uninhabitable/non existent properties.

Paying benefit to the claimant means the claimant has to take the hit.

MissWimpyDimple Wed 28-Feb-18 19:59:04

Yes true. If the HB is paid directly to the landlord then they are liable if it's fraudulent.

LondonHereICome Wed 28-Feb-18 20:03:24

If there's 3 interested parties in a property.... 1 working and 2 dss and the landlord chooses the working family, then nothing unlawful has occurred really. I guess that's what will happen each time

Auspiciouspanda Wed 28-Feb-18 20:36:34

I’m a housing benefit assessor and we only reclaim benefit from a landlord if its reasonable to expect the landlord to know about overpaid benefit e.g a customer moving out of the property.

We automatically send the invoice to the customer even if it’s paid directly landlord if the overpayment is due to the customers circumstances.

FlossyMittens Fri 02-Mar-18 09:35:31

DGRossetti - I think you would get more of a response if you posted your thread in the single parents section and the money section. Both sections will contain people who will be very interested to hear this.

FlossyMittens Fri 02-Mar-18 09:36:41

Good on you to flag it up on Mumsnet too.

FlossyMittens Fri 02-Mar-18 09:39:52

MissWimpyDimple - I suggest you get seek some legal advice - quick!

SleepFreeZone Fri 02-Mar-18 09:40:11

I’m pleased!

PhilODox Fri 02-Mar-18 09:47:07

Well, it will have no impact until there have been test cases against insurance and mortgage companies challenging their stipulations that benefit claimants cannot lease the property.

I'll not hold my breath...

YTho Fri 02-Mar-18 09:47:09

Good news!

FlossyMittens Fri 02-Mar-18 09:50:23

I heard her the lady in question talk on Radio 4 You and Yours on Wednesday. Shelter also had a lot to say on the programme about this.

FlossyMittens Fri 02-Mar-18 09:53:37

Those test cases are going to come much sooner that we think.

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