The National Approved Lettings Scheme has issued a sharp rebuke to Shelter and the National Housing Federation following their controversial ‘End DSS Discrimination’ campaign received blanket coverage across the mainstream and industry media.
In a statement, NALS chief executive Isobel Thomson says the majority of lettings and managing agents are professionals who are skilled at managing housing benefit and universal credit tenancies, and who deal with applicants on a case by case basis.
She say this even extends to many agents who help prospective and existing tenants obtain access to the benefits they are entitled to.
“An assumption that there is widespread discrimination, particularly of women and disabled people on benefits is emotive conjecture and fails to paint an accurate picture of the sector. In some areas tenants on benefits form agents’ client base” she insists.
“Vilification of letting agents and landlords will not resolve housing problems where the provision of sufficient social housing is at the heart of the matter. The complexity of the benefits system and delays in payment add to the difficulties.
“Shouldn’t we be working together to come up with solutions which could solve the ills of the sector to ensure that no vulnerable tenants are left behind rather than castigating one section of it?”
Yesterday the two charities revealed the results of a mystery shopping exercise which involved visiting 149 agency branches run by Bridgfords, Dexters, Fox & Sons, Haart, Hunters, and Your Move.
One in 10 had a branch policy not to let to anyone on housing benefit, regardless of whether they could afford the rent; 48 per cent of branches said they had no suitable homes or landlords willing to let to someone on housing benefit.
The charities’ report claimed Haart was the worst offender with eight out of 25 branches having an outright ban on housing benefit tenants. Only Hunters was found to have no such ban in place at any office.