The National Housing Federation, (NHF) along with charity Shelter have released a new report. Their findings show that out of 86,000 adverts for rental properties for the private sector tenants, 1 in 10 said ‘No DSS’ or ‘No housing benefit.’
Housing benefit tenants not welcome.
The research found many other adverts implied that no one on benefits was welcome. For example, by saying “professionals only”.
While it is not unlawful to refuse people on benefits, Shelter said it was likely to contravene the Equality Act. The Act protects disabled people and women. They make up the majority of private sector tenants on benefits in England.
Consequently, under the Equality Act 2010, letting agents who reject housing benefit tenants outright could be at risk of breaking the law. Because of indirect discrimination against women and people with disabilities.
Shelter asked 1,137 private landlords last year if they banned letting to benefit claimants.
In reply, 43% of landlords said yes they did and another 18% preferred not to let to them.
In response, landlords said many of the UK’s mortgage lenders refuse to lend money to landlords whose tenants are on benefits.
What the Residential Landlords Association say: –
The Residential Landlords Association (RLA) said landlords could not be blamed, as many mortgage lenders refuse to offer loans where tenants are on benefits.
David Smith, the policy director of the RLA, said that 90% of lenders have at least one product which discriminates against benefit claimants.
“We’re very concerned about that because it treats all tenants on benefits as the same,”
Research also found that landlords whose tenants claim benefit are frequently charged more by insurance companies.
A Previous investigation looked at letting agents.
A previous investigation was carried out by Mystery Shoppers Ltd into letting agent’s practices in respect of applications from people in receipt of housing benefit.
This found that, shockingly, one in 10 had a branch policy not to let to anyone on housing benefit. Regardless of whether they could afford the rent.
Five of England’s leading letting agents actively discriminate against tenants on housing benefit, according to the new report.
The worst offender out of the six big brands investigated was Haart. They had an outright ban on housing benefit tenants in a third of the branches called (8 out of 25).
The research also exposes the wider uphill struggle faced by housing benefit tenants. Almost half, 48%, of branches called said they had no suitable homes or landlords willing to let to someone on housing benefit.
The National Housing Federation and Shelter working together.
Both housing organisations, Shelter and the NHF are now working together to urge letting agents and landlords to stop banning people on housing benefits. Appalled by the findings, they argue that the practice is both grossly unfair and likely to be unlawful.
There are an estimated 1.64 million adults who rely on housing benefit to help with expensive private rents. Most of these are women, especially single mothers with childcare responsibilities. For people who also receive disability benefits, the likelihood is that they will also need a housing benefit top up.
Lack of social housing, brought on by the failure of successive governments to address the housing crisis and build more houses is not helping.
What Shelter Say: –
Polly Neate, chief executive of Shelter, said: “This ugly undercurrent of discrimination is wreaking havoc on thousands of people’s search for a home. ‘No DSS’ policies are outdated, and an outrageous example of blatant prejudice.
“Private renting is now so expensive that many people simply can’t get by without some housing benefit. Even if they’re working. At Shelter, we often hear from families pushed to breaking point after battling repeated rejections because of housing benefit bans.
“Practices that blindly reject all housing benefit tenants are morally bankrupt, and because they overwhelmingly impact women and people with disabilities, could be unlawful. That’s why we’re urging all landlords and letting agents to get rid of housing benefit bans, and treat people fairly on a case by case basis.”
What the National Housing Federation say: –
At the time of the report, David Orr was chief executive of the NHF, which represents social landlords to around 6 million people. He said:
“Many housing associations were set up in the 50s and 60s to house people who could find nowhere else to live due to blatant racism from private landlords and letting agents who told them “No Irish, no blacks, no dogs”. Letting agents should be ashamed that discrimination is still happening today in the form of an outright ban on people simply because they depend on housing benefit. We know this is purely based on prejudice.
“The homeless shelters and charities housing vulnerable people that we represent, find it increasingly impossible to help their residents move into their own independent home. Often, no privately rented homes will accept people on benefits. [And] the chronic shortage of social housing means often none of this is available. Landlords and letting agents must see sense and assess people on a case by case basis, whilst Government urgently need to invest in the building of new social homes.”
Kate Henderson, took over as Chief Executive of the NHF last month.
The NHF said the practice had to stop. “This research shows that blatant discrimination against people on housing benefit is widespread, “she said.
“Many housing associations were created in the 50s and 60s in reaction to discrimination and racism from private landlords. [Who] wouldn’t house migrants, and said ‘No Irish, No Blacks, No Dogs’.
“Today’s discrimination is hardly any different and we refuse to turn a blind eye.”
How to find landlords that accept tenants claiming benefits
Finding a good debt advisor is often a relief. At Ramsey Lomax, we have years of experience in helping people. One thing to remember is that your chat with our advisors is completely confidential, free and without obligation. For many of our clients just getting if off their chests and having a sympathetic ear to talk to can make all the difference. At Ramsey Lomax we understand ‘financial fear’ and we have helped 1000’s of people towards a debt-free future.
Ramsey Lomax is fully authorised and regulated by the FCA, the Financial Conduct Authority. So you can rest assured of our professionalism. We also make things easier than ever before with up to date communication technology. To make it as simple as possible for you to become debt free.
Taking that first step is not always easy but is a crucial step towards helping you to find financial freedom.