Landlords’ ‘no DSS’ policies challenged
Landlords and letting agents who refuse housing benefit claimants applying for a tenancy could be in breach of equality legislation after the practice was challenged by a prospective tenant.
Rosie Keogh, a single mother from Kings Heath in Birmingham, was refused a tenancy when she attempted to rent a property in a desirable area of the city in May 2016.
She was told by the agent that it would not proceed with her application, even though it had not looked into her individual circumstances or assessed her reliability as a tenant.
Following a complaint to the agents that was dismissed, Ms Keogh issued a discrimination claim in the county court.
Ultimately, the lettings agent admitted indirect discrimination on the grounds of her sex and settled out of court, compensating Ms Keogh to the tune of £2,000.
She said: “I felt something had to be done to challenge it. I was motivated by anger at such inequitable practice. It made me feel like a second-class citizen.
“You are being treated differently – and it’s women and women with children who are bearing the brunt of this because they need to work part-time.”
Chris Norris, Head of Policy at the National Landlords Association, added: “Cases like this highlight the very worst of what a minority of renters have to put up with when looking to secure a home in the private rented sector.
“The number of landlords willing to rent to housing benefit tenants has fallen dramatically over the last few years because cuts to welfare and problems with the universal credit system are making it more and more difficult for anyone in receipt of housing support to pay their rent on time and sustain long-term tenancies.”