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TODAY'S OTHER NEWS

Reminder to agents to review advertising following No DSS ruling

A property litigation expert is warning letting agents and landlords about far-reaching consequences of the recent ruling which declared a blanket ‘No DSS’ ban as unlawful.

Matt Pugh, managing partner of Hägen Wolf - a specialist property litigation firm - says: “While County Court decisions [such as this] are not binding, it is likely that this case will be relied upon in similar cases in future and should there be an appeal to the High Court, the appeal decision would be binding.” 

The ruling held that a blanket ban on renting property to people on housing benefit is unlawful and amounts to indirect discrimination on the grounds of sex and disability under sections 19 and 29 of the Equality Act 2010, given that the evidence presented to the court demonstrated that women and disabled people are the groups most likely to be reliant on housing benefits.  

The case emerged because in late 2018 a claimant began to look for somewhere else to live and saw an advert for a two-bedroom property in York which was advertising as being to let for £795 per month. 

The claimant’s request for viewing was denied because the defendant agency did not accept applications from prospective tenants on housing benefit and so they could not proceed.  

The claimant asked why and was told that ‘rather than it being on an ad hoc basis we have had a policy for many years not to accept housing benefit tenants.’

Pugh says: “The practice of excluding potential tenants simply because they are on housing benefits is widespread and this issue will now have to be addressed by landlords and agents alike. 

"The ruling means that letting agents and private landlords will have to review their advertising material and vetting policies to ensure that renters who rely on housing benefits are no longer automatically barred from renting from private landlords.  

“There is, however, nothing to stop landlords pricing such tenants out of the market or relying on other non-discriminatory criteria.” 

  • James B

    Duly reviewed to prevent a shelter attack but we won’t house one more dss than we choose

  • Matthew Payne

    I cant see there being many far reaching consequences other than for those who fail now to amend a simple process if up to now they have had a blanket ban on all DSS tenants. Those that now get in trouble over it have got far greater challenges up ahead if they can't manage even that.

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    • 06 August 2020 18:08 PM

    Surely the only time LL need to be concerned with DSS tenants is if their rent is near the LHA rate.
    My market rent is double the LHA rate so just by advertising the rent should automatically prevent any DSS tenant form bothering to apply to me for a tenancy.

    Those LL who have market offers at rates similar to LHA will of course have to be extra diligent to avoid taking them on.

    Chucking in the requirement for a guarantor will remove 98% of such aspirant DSS tenants.

    Only in cheaper less desirable parts of the UK will HB tenants be viable.


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