The ‘No DSS’ debate is raging hard within the PRS but landlord sentiment is clear on whether they should be prevented from refusing tenants in receipt of Universal Credit, a new poll by LandlordZONE has revealed.

Nearly 80% of those we polled said landlords should not be stopped from refusing those on benefits.

This is despite a strong campaign by Shelter to persuade landlords and lettings agencies that the practice is immoral and, under some circumstances, illegal.

In July the charity won a landmark ruling at York’s County Court that a letting agent unfairly discriminated against a single mum-of-two with a disability, on the grounds of sex and disability under the Equality Act, after telling her it operated a blanket ‘No DSS’ policy. And earlier this month it won a second, similar case in Birmingham.

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But our poll shows many landlords are not aligned with the NRLA, which to an extent supported Shelter’s position.

Discriminate

The landlord trade association said after the York case that “no landlord should discriminate against tenants because they are in receipt of benefits.

“Every tenant’s circumstance is different and so they should be treated on a case by case basis based on their ability to sustain a tenancy.”

The many comments on Twitter in response to our poll revealed exasperation among landlords about attempts to stamp out blanket rejection of DSS tenants by agents and landlords.

Victoria Clegg said: “I’d be happy to accept DSS if I knew the rent would be paid. As it stands councils are unwilling to pay the landlord direct. “This leads to non-payment and no rights for the landlord. The answer to the question is a resounding NO!”

John Doyle added: “I have no problem with DSS claimants if they meet the affordability requirements, but at some properties DSS claimants can’t meet these requirements.

“It’s very frustrating when you have to waste time explaining to them how they won’t be able to afford to pay their bills.”

5 COMMENTS

  1. I have been shafted by both UC and Dartford Borough Council on Benefit cases trying to get rent paid directly to me. I’ll never take another benefit case. I’d rather leave the property empty. In fact I have been and even have one left empty. Any property that becomes vacate I will sell. It make no difference now what the government say or intend to do. They confidence in the market (for me) is finished. Let the councils become the only private and social landlord. Next will be an increase in Capital Gains to try to dissuade landlords selling up along with penalties for having an empty property. We will be between and rock and hard place. Trapped for trying to provide for our futures and pensions as opposed to relying on state benefits.

  2. Absolutely agree with graham. We had set up a portfolio of eight properties as our rental income. Now selling them off as fast as we can. So sad as we had made a point of findong good long term tenants and charging attractive rental rates so we all had a quiet life. Too much risk, too many new regulations – and so much bad feeling towards those of us working hard to provide solid accomodation. So I’m noving away from 3% returns to the 7-8% I’m getting on my other pension investments in the markets with no tenant hassles.
    Bit like we will find out how much we needed the bankers (that have now moved to Europe and New York) as we complete Brexit, we will find out how much we needed the personal savings we have all invested in property once there is nothing to rent.

  3. I’m sure Landlords don’t want to discriminate against tenants in these circumstances, simply to avoid being bullied and left with losses under the housing benefit rules. There must be some positive workable solutions out there.
    Perhaps Landlordzone could use its resources to support landlords by investigating the effectiveness of a clause in the tenancy agreement stating that payments by 3rd parties such as councils or guarantors must be made to the landlord directly within the time scales required by the tenancy agreement. Also a useful buffer would be a clause stating that once paid by a third party no payment shall be returned except for the tenant having submitted the correct notice and moved out of the property, less any adjustment for damages not covered by the deposit.
    If this is not a workable option could Landlordzone offer an insurance product that covered any losses under DSS claw backs or rent losses and this could be added to the rent as a premium to be covered by housing benefit.

  4. The government and other agencies are so short sighted. They think that the private sector landlord will simply put up and shut up. Enough is enough. Incidentally I can’t see that it is any way equitable to demand that a landlord lets or does not let to any type or category of person. What happened to human rights. It cuts both ways.

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