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TODAY'S OTHER NEWS

Rightmove bans ‘No DSS’ from listings and falls in line with Zoopla

Rightmove has fallen in line with Zoopla and is banning the term ‘No DSS’ from its lettings agents’ listings from the end of April, while from next month it will have software that will automatically strip the term from any property details.

The portal is writing to all its letting agent advertisers asking them to remove the term by the end of this month, prior to the installation of the new software.

Rightmove tells the agents that ‘No DSS’ is in any case an old-fashioned term - the Department of Social Security went out of existence 18 years ago - and that agents should not in any case impose blanket bans on some kinds of tenants. 

“If a landlord has a restriction that prevents them from letting to a person receiving benefits, the reason for the restriction should be included in the description of the listing. This could be by using a phrase such as ‘Unfortunately no housing benefit claimants can be considered due to a restriction in the landlord’s mortgage term’” the portal suggests.

It also adds in the letter that agents should let their landlord clients know that several mortgage lenders have recently revised their terms and conditions to ensure there is no ‘No DSS’ style restriction required when borrowers let their homes.

The portal has been in touch with both the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, and the Competition and Mergers Authority, to check on the legal and marketing issues, and promises to update letting agents in the near future.

Last month Zoopla banned ‘No DSS’ from all lettings listings.

Here is the Rightmove letter in full:

‘No DSS’ in lettings listings – an update from the government and action required

We wrote to you last week about the subject of including the term ‘No DSS’ in rental advertisements.

We believe all prospective tenants should have equal access to the widest possible selection of properties. There are currently discussions taking place within government around this topic, including those who say that not accepting tenants on benefits could amount to indirect discrimination. We will keep you updated on these discussions and any outcomes that may affect how you advertise properties.

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government said this week that they want to see an end to all No DSS type adverts, and we’ve let them know we’d welcome a conversation with them as soon as possible to discuss this.

In the meantime, we also asked the Competition & Markets Authority (CMA) if there is any new guidance to follow. This department issue guidance on how to comply with consumer protection law. 

What has the CMA said?

The CMA guidance states that all ‘material information’ should be communicated to prospective tenants when marketing a property. They have confirmed that in its guidance for lettings professionals on consumer protection law ‘material information’ includes ‘any restrictions on the type of tenant, (such as housing benefit claimants)’. 

You can read more about the CMA’s guidance here: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/319820/Lettings_guidance_CMA31.PDF 

What you need to do now

In line with the CMA guidance your advertisements need to be clear and understandable to those people who aren’t going to be able to rent the property.  You need to make sure that any restrictions you place on properties comply with the law.

We ask that you please review your Rightmove listings to consider the following:

·       “No DSS” is an old term which many tenants don’t understand as the DSS was replaced in 2001, and so should not be used

·       Agents should not impose blanket bans on tenants on housing benefit. If a landlord has a restriction that prevents them from letting to a person receiving benefits, the reason for the restriction should be included in the description of the listing. This could be by using a phrase such as ‘Unfortunately no housing benefit claimants can be considered due to a restriction in the landlord’s mortgage term’

·       You can let your landlords know that in recent months some mortgage lenders, including NatWest, Nationwide and the Cooperative Bank, have announced changes to their policies and no longer restrict landlords in their mortgage terms. 

How long do I have to make any changes?

We ask that you review your advertisements and make any necessary changes to your listings by the end of April. We realise this is additional work for you, but we want you to avoid any possibility of breaching the regulations.  

To help, from May we will be introducing technology that will automatically strip out terms such as ‘No DSS’ from listings.

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    So why should an agent be responsible for telling a landlord the lender he may have will not allow 'no DSS' restrictions? Surely this is the lenders responsibility? Agents are in for a hard enough time without this Rightmove bunch imposing more regulations on them.

    Paul Barrett

    Agreed about LL should be the one who advise the LA that they have the various CTL.
    The last thing a LA wants is to set up a tenancy and then discover that it is in breach of lender conditions.

    Therefore it would NOT be unreasonable for any LA to require from a LL any tenant type or CTL situation to be confirmed in writing from the lender.
    This would mean that the LA can ascertain whether he is restricted in who he can source as tenants for the LL.
    So if the lender states no DSS then the LA would have to advise the LL that he would not be able to use DSS tenants to rent the property.
    If no CTL is given then the LA would not be able to do any form of business with that LL.
    The same with EPC requirements.
    Also the lender may have tenancy restriction periods.
    In short LA need to know what permissions a LL has to let their property out as they will NOT wish to waste their valuable time setting up tenancies which breach insurance and mortgage conditions .LL should provide confirmation of any restrictions etc to the LA.
    It should NOT be the LA responsibility.
    Requiring such will result in LA losing much business as millions of tenancies breach numerous conditions.
    What LA would want to find out after the fact to the extent they have to advise the tenant that the LL has no permission to let to them.
    LA cannot be part of any fraudulent lettings arrangement.
    So LL will have to prove to LA they are allowed to let the property.

     
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    No need to Ban advertising 'No DSS' as following the Govt proposals re Sec 21, No Landlords going to rent to them - advertised or not.
    Not sure the Govt has thought through - got a clue what its doing and the ramifications ~ No change there !
    ( that applies to tenant fee ban = rent Increases, and all the Homeless turning up at L.A offices seeking accommodation )

  • icon

    Why should wheelchair users with a good guarantor not have a chance to rent? Or live independently?

    And could Rightmove and letting agents please include doorway widths and number of steps to front door in their adverts?

  • S l
    • S l
    • 18 April 2019 12:00 PM

    Its not the issue of tenants being HB or DSS. Its the issue of the law regulating the payment of rent by the council who had often re claimed back money from unsuspecting landlords who thought the council could be trusted to be honest and paid up and not take back money due to their own inefficiency of paying when the tenant are not eligible and the landlords are out of pocket. If the issues of rent payment are not sorted, no decent landlord would want to let to them

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    Good, stop using Rightmove and Zoopla, not needed by professional LLs.
    When councils pay us professional LLs the rent direct and on time and provide Deposit and NO Claw Back only then might I consider Universal Credit, but still very unlikely.
    My property purchased with My hard earned Money, My choice who I rent to. Keep it simple.

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    If only UC could re-establish itself as a reliable payer again, it would help Landlords and tenants. So short sighted to give contracts to private companies without requiring them to have insurance to recompense people for their mistakes.

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