Recommendations for ending DSS discrimination

Along with Shelter, we’ve set out a number of recommendations for the letting industry and the Government to help us stop DSS discrimination.

We are calling on everyone involved in the lettings industry to take action to stop the unfair treatment of people who claim housing benefit.

This change requires agents, landlords, mortgage lenders, insurance providers and the Government to commit to ensuring that all renters are treated equally, regardless of whether they claim housing benefit.

Here are our recommendations for stopping DSS discrimination:

Letting agents

  • Treat all renters equally and decide their suitability to rent a property based on whether they can afford the rent, not where their income comes from.
  • End all bans against letting to tenants on housing benefit.
  • Stop using adverts which state or imply that properties are not available to tenants on housing benefit e.g. “No DSS”, “professional tenants only”.
  • Stop advising landlords not to let to tenants claiming housing benefit.
  • Provide all staff with training on the benefits system so they understand how it works and can advise landlords about letting to tenants on housing benefit.

Professional bodies and parent companies in the lettings industry

  • Ensure their members do not operate bans and by improving understanding of the benefits system amongst their members.
  • Ensure their members do not have bans against letting to tenants on housing benefit.
  • Professional bodies to remove membership from any member who continues to operate a ban.
  • Provide training for their members about the benefits system to help improve understanding across the lettings industry.

Buy-to-let mortgage lenders and insurance providers

  • Ensure their policies do not prevent or make it more difficult for landlords to let to tenants claiming housing benefit.
  • Buy-to-let mortgage providers to remove any terms in their mortgage policies which bar landlords letting to tenants on housing benefit.
  • Insurance providers to stop charging landlords higher premiums, or excluding them from their insurance cover, if they let to tenants on housing benefit.

Landlords

  • Treat all renters equally and decide their suitability to rent a property based on whether they can afford the rent, not where their income comes from.
  • Stop using letting agents who have bans on letting to tenants on housing benefit or who actively advise landlords not to let to tenants on housing benefit.
  • Assess each tenant’s suitability for their property, based on whether they can afford the rent, not where their income comes from.

Government

  • Make fair treatment of tenants claiming housing benefit a key part of the new framework for regulating letting agents.
  • Ensure that the new single code of practice for the lettings industry requires all letting agents to treat all renters equally, including those who claim housing benefit.
  • Make training on the benefits system part of the national qualification and continuing professional development for letting agents.

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