By using this website, you agree to our use of cookies to enhance your experience.
Graham Awards


Shelter “doubling up” its checks on letting agents for compliance

Campaigning charity Shelter says it is “doubling up” its efforts to make sure letting agents comply with anti-discrimination legislation when it comes to tenants.

The charity says: “We know the ‘no DSS’, ‘no benefits’ and ‘no Universal Credit’ policies are widespread” and that as a result of a court ruling this week “letting agents and private landlords will have to drive out old discriminatory practices for good.”

Earlier this week a court in York has ruled that blanket bans on claimants are strictly forbidden, on the grounds of discrimination. It found a single mother of two had experienced indirect discrimination when a letting agent refused to rent to her.


Now the charity - in a new blog on its website - alleges that while other discrimination cases have been resolved out of court, with letting agents offering compensation and changing their policy, this was the first case to go before a judge.

“We’ve been pleased to see the changes that these individual letting agents have made, but to bring about widespread change across the private rented sector – and be able to help others who have experienced housing benefit discrimination in the future – we wanted a judge to make a formal ruling on a case” says Shelter.

The charity insists that the ruling will make a difference to the lives of hundreds of thousands of private renters across the country who receive housing benefit “and have been facing discrimination when looking for a home.” 

And it adds: “We’ll be doubling up our efforts to end housing benefit discrimination for good – and make sure letting agents are complying with the ruling.“

  • James B

    Clearly see themselves as some kind of police force now .. I thought they were a charity.

  •  G romit

    Shelter trying hard to make something out of their hollow victory.
    The reality is that no-one will benefit from this ruling - if you can't afford a property whilst on benefits , you still can't afford it with this ruling.

    Barry X

    ABSOLUTELY and well said!

    Who carers if Shelter think (or at least claim) that this will "make a difference to the lives of hundreds of thousands of private renters across the country...." because IT WON'T!!!

    The fact is that unless a tenant can pass our basic credit checks they will not even be considered. The first step is to ask what work they do and how much they earn......

    Imagine you wanted to, for example, rent a car - usually you have to let them take a copy of your credit card to cover the deposit etc. or maybe they will accept a lot of cash (but probably not). If you said, cheerfully, "Oh, you can't discriminate against me just because I have no credit card, money or even a job [and maybe not even a driver's license"], so you HAVE to let me drive off in your finest rental car, OR ELSE!" do you think they'll be taken seriously?

    Well, our properties are worth a lot more than a rental car so why should we have les rights and be treated any differently?

    As G romit rightly says; if you can't afford it then no amount of "anti-discrimination" legislation is going to change that or mean we are obliged to even consider you after having established you can't afford it and are not credit worthy.


    @Barry X
    If they cannot pass Rent Guarantee INsurance then they fail and do not rent one of my properties. Shelter can moan all they like but until they provide RGI on the same terms as professional companies, it will make Benefit tenants unacceptable.

  • icon

    Shelter's attitude may make agents covertly less likely to let to benefit tenants whilst overtly welcoming them.

    Barry X


    ....and from very bitter experience more than once I can confirm there's a lot more to this than just credit worthiness.... as soon as you accept someone on benefits you are also necessarily accepting you may well have to deal with (and be bullied and abused by) the council.... for example FORCING you to have to evict someone who wants to move out anyhow just to waste your time and money while saving the council some of theirs! An example of why this might happen (and has happened to us) is when a single woman on benefits renting a studio flat becomes pregnant - she is then apparently "entitled" to be upgraded to a one-bedroom flat, but of course that will cost more and the council certainly don't want to pay for it so the longer before she can move out the more they save per month. Meanwhile they threaten to stop her benefits if she "makes herself voluntarily homeless" by, er, moving out before you have a court order saying she has to, and only then will the council "notice" she has a baby that "needs" its own room.... until you've been on the receiving end of this sort of nonsense you'll have no idea of the trouble (and expense) the council can chose to cause you....

    ....another situation we experienced twice in the same year (before we decided enough was enough and stopped accepting people, no matter how respectable they appeared, if dependant on benefits).... a tenant rents a property for a while, then moves out (sometimes after you've had to evict them as a "favour" so they can be "rehoused" for some reason). Everything seemed fine, you return the balance of their deposit, re-let to a new tenant and think you've moved on..... but THEN about 6 months to a year later you are contacted by the council who say (for example) that they may have miscalculated the amount of benefits your ex-tenant was "entitled" to (in one case of ours because it turned out they discovered he'd been working as a very part-time barman somewhere or other).... and the council then DEMANDED WE PAID BACK MOST OF THE LAST 2-YEARS' RENT TO THEM!!! Luckily I already knew about this potential horror-story and so we have suitable extra wording in all of our tenancy agreements that protects us from having to comply, but its still a huge amount of time and effort (and worry) to prove it, and for which nobody is paying us.... most landlords have never heard of it and are therefore extremely vulnerable to be "legally" robbed this way if unlucky.....

    ....and that's not all, but hopefully enough to give some idea of why its a very sound business judgement to decide not to take any such risks unless desperate (and also well informed and after taking as many precautions as possible).


    I have had a similar experience to Barry X. In order to get rid of a tenant (who wanted a high standard of living at my expense) and bring about her rehoming by the council without having technically made herself homeless I had to give her a personal loan for the amount of arrears she owed so that she could then appear to have a clean bill of health as far as the council was concerned. I then reclaimed the loan from TDS as she had signed an agreement saying I could do so.

    Needless to say I was out of pocket after renovations but still rejoicing to have got rid of her and away from the tedious hours involved liaising with the Housing Department which having a tenant on benefits often necessitates.

    On another occasion I also had a circumstance where the council wrote to me months after the tenant left demanding circa £1000 refund due to a miscalculation on their part. I threatened them with legal action and they went away but It was nerve wracking at the time.

    We should all collaborate on a best seller ‘It shouldn’t happen to a landlord’.....

  • icon
    • A J
    • 15 July 2020 08:20 AM

    When will Shelter understated that it is not the fact that we don’t want to deal with DSS tenants it’s the fact that once they’re in if they cause trouble or don’t pay the rent it’s a nightmare to get them out. My first question is who thought it was a good idea to pay the rental benefits direct to the tenant?
    My second is, why would I let a property to some one who despite owing sometimes thousands of pounds will be advised by the council to remain in the flat until I’ve paid god knows how much on court cases and bailiffs.
    I used consider DSS tenants on an individual basis as I would consider any tenants, but having been royally shafted by the system cannot recommend to a landlord that they take the risk. My responsibility is to the landlord and I wouldn’t be giving them best advice. Good old Shelter never cease to amaze me!

    Barry X

    More than agreed..... I've even just posted (above) a couple of good examples supporting exactly what you've said before I read it!

  • PossessionFriendUK PossessionFriend

    I don't see Shelter offering to stand as Guarantor for Benefit tenants !

    Don't want to put their money where their mouth is, but expect Private landlords to 'shoulder the increased risk '
    ( if not from the Tenants who are on low benefit rates, - from the U.C system that is unhelpful to both Tenants and Landlords alike )

  • icon

    When landlords do take dss they are branded has greedy robbing the public pursue.

    PossessionFriendUK PossessionFriend

    Hypocrites, I believe is the word your looking for Kathy ?

    In real life - pragmatists know we can't have the 'penny and the bun' and this won't result in any more Housing for Tenants in receipt of benefit.

    In fact, I believe the reverse, as publicity of this case will make Landlords MORE cautious and find further details about an Applicant ( which is no bad thing ) in order to 'make their decisions'

  • PossessionFriendUK PossessionFriend

    The case brought by Shelter was financially supported by Nationwide Foundation, a charity set up and funded by The Nationwide Building Society ( who have many Landlords amongst its customers
    ( - the message is Clear ! )
    Looking at Shelters web site details of the case were published on there yesterday. It appears the case was dealt with by a telephone hearing where a barrister from Garden court chambers represented the claimant and its not not clear what, if any representation the letting Agent on behalf of the landlord had..


    Any landlord who supports Nationwide Bull**** Society is a turkey voting for Christmas.
    This ruling will not house a single extra benefit tenant. As Gromit correctly says, if they can’t afford it, they can’t afford it.
    To get Rent Guarantee Insurance they need a certain income and all the property I deal with have rents higher than benefit income.

  • girish mehta

    Landlord are in business. It up to government, councils to house people who can’t pay.
    Landloards are not charities and we still pay lot of tax as well. Let the council and housing associations, and charity organisation look after them. They all get grants from the government. If the tenets can pay then they don’t stay

    Barry X

    Agreed but I wouldn't just not let them stay.... I wouldn't accept them in the first place!

    Why take the risk and/or make a rod for your own back?

  • icon

    How about this Shelter for a crazy idea? Why not help Landlord's and Letting Agents and work WITH them rather than against them? It would actually help out the very people they are trying to help!

    All we get is anger and militant threats from Shelter, when at the end of the day the vast majority of Landlords and Letting Agents (yes, it may surprise Shelter, but we are actually mainly all good) want the same thing. To provide someone with a home and all we ask in return is for the rent to be paid on time and the property looked after.

    Support tenants, by helping their Landlords, not attacking them.

    Barry X

    If they were (a) honest about their motives and (b) a genuine charity doing its best to support "homeless" people (and their definition of even this basic term is dishonest) THEN they would already be doing exactly as you suggest.

    The REASON they are not is simply because they are a POLITICAL LOBBYIST organisation masquerading as a charity and making a lot of money for themselves (especially their executives) by making sure they are seen to endlessly bait and attack landlords and agents while piously (and without valid foundation) claiming the moral superiority and ethical "high ground". This pleases the ignorant fools who support them (including the Government who provide additional funding for them to take us on and further harm the housing market).

  • icon

    Shelter are appalling for spending their supporters’ money on things they can’t possibly police. The decisions against DSS will still be made, just waste their time on a long application and pick a different reason for rejection. Also, this is not the precedent Shelter make out - it’s a County Court, so is dependent on the precise individual facts of this case. It can be referred to, but does not apply automatically in other similar cases. Finally, we can use the left’s own words against them as there are still commentators complaining about the HB bill enriching landlords, at precisely the moment Shelter want the payments increased! It’s almost as if the anti-landlords don’t know what they want...

  • icon

    Your first three words are all that is needed, “Shelter are appalling”.

    Barry X

    ....by being Appalling it makes them Appealing (and they know it) - but only to the deluded fools who admire them for it and think it will benefit them when we know it won't.

  • girish mehta

    Job for their mates, increase their meddling then on back of one ruling create a media hype then employ their mates to new position at a grand salary to invent more propaganda,

    You have HMRC, the government, council. And now shelter and any one who wants a media attention to jump on band wagon thrashing landlords

    If all landlords pull out who is going to house these people

    I can seen anyone putting their hands in their pockets , invest their life saving and then take a loan to house these so call needy people for free

    Thatcher could not afford it and we had a housing crisis hence the AST. The council house were sold on the cheap to housing association or the needy tenants as they wound
    Not pay rent

    Moe they want landlords to take on and house these people where they have failed.

    Trying to keep these people just get votes and say anything to keep them sweet on their side

    Even half of the landlords sell you will see rent rise and after Covid the economy has settled

    I see the government will be able to help and thanks to these policy these will find tough times ahead

    As a landlord it is my business and I only decide what I can do
    And who my tenants are

    Simple pay rent, look after the property and you can stay
    Otherwise find something or anyone else


    Even this government cannot be thick enough to believe that benefit tenants will actually vote Tory, can they?

    S l
    • S l
    • 20 July 2020 10:23 AM

    Pull out from housing the very people the council failed to provide. No house, no address, no vote!

  • PossessionFriendUK PossessionFriend

    Private sector needs to adopt the stance and terminology of Housing Associations ( which Shelter don't challenge - BUT STILL DISCRIMINATE, Understandably ) ;
    " Limited Entitlement to Welfare Assistance " LETWA
    ( I kid you not ! )

    • 15 July 2020 23:29 PM

    So could we use instead of NO DSS

    No tenants with limited entitlement to welfare assistance!!!!???


    NO LETWA tenants

  • icon

    Well that didn’t take long. Yesterday, just four days after this article, I received an email from a female telling me I was “breaking the new law that makes it illegal to refuse to let go DSS tenants and THOSE ON LOW INCOMES”.

    We do not state “no DSS” but we do include the minimum income required by applicant or Guarantor because our applicants are referenced to qualify for Rent Guarantee Insurance.

    I did not reply.

    S l
    • S l
    • 20 July 2020 09:35 AM

    whats your minimum income required? i would like to do the same. thanks

  • icon

    I use Rentshield and input the rent and they tell me what the figures are. Others on here will be able to give more exact figures but usually 2.5 and 3.5 times monthly rent.

  • S l
    • S l
    • 20 July 2020 10:15 AM

    Hi Barry X,

    can you share which clause you use to protect yourself from the tenant on benefit when the council try to claim back rental paid? We are in same situation. Thanks

    • 20 July 2020 10:21 AM

    My understanding is that if you are directly paid any amount of HB that is always liable for 'clawback'

    Which is why I would only accept direct payment if in the process of evicting a HB tenant.

    Have the tenant open a CU account and get paid via that and then NO 'clawback' possibility.
    I suggested this to a HB tenant and she suggested I was behaving like a fascist!!!!!!!!

  • icon
    • 20 July 2020 10:16 AM

    I've heard that RGI companies have changed conditions that make RGI functionally useless.
    Have you checked Rentshield conditions recently to ascertain if they have such new conditions?


    Yes, a policy came up for renewal and I sought and received confirmation that Covid 19 would not be an exclusion.

    S l
    • S l
    • 20 July 2020 10:28 AM

    whats a CU account?

  • icon
    • 20 July 2020 11:27 AM

    Credit Union


Please login to comment

MovePal MovePal MovePal
sign up