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‘No DSS’ - Agency unlawfully discriminated against tenant

Another lettings agency has been found to have unlawfully discriminated against a tenant receiving benefits.

Worthing County Court declared that Michael Jones & Company unlawfully refused to show Hayley Pearce a potential rental property because she receives benefits. 

According to campaigning charity Shelter, which took up the case on the tenant’s behalf, an agency employee told Pearce over the phone that people in receipt of benefits would not be acceptable’ to the landlord, without checking whether she could afford the rent. 


“Because Hayley is a woman, this simple rejection constituted unlawful indirect discrimination on the grounds of sex under the Equality Act 2010” says Shelter.

The agent and landlord were ordered to pay damages of £4,500 and the tenant’s legal fees.

Shelter says: “Hayley’s case against Michael Jones & Company is one of three she has taken on in the last two years, and the only one to reach a final hearing at court. 

“The other two were smart enough to admit their mistakes, settle before trial, and collectively paid Hayley damages and legal costs of almost £15,000 in total. 

“In one of these two cases, the landlord of the property Hayley wanted to view said she had no idea that her agents were refusing to help people receiving benefits. She herself was once a single mum who needed housing support in the past, The landlord was shocked and ashamed that her letting agent behaved in this way.”

Last year Midlands agency Paul Carr told disabled tenant Stephen Tyler it had a policy of not accepting renters receiving benefits, triggering a case at Birmingham County Court. The agency lost.

And last summer a court in York found a single mother of two had experienced indirect discrimination when a letting agent in the city refused to rent to her.

  • James B

    Sounds like she has turned her benefits status into a career of compo hunting .. another sad example of the direction this country is going under this quietly communist government

  • Roger  Mellie

    Hailey must be disappointed when she actually gets a viewing

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    • 21 April 2021 09:27 AM

    So, now in a so-called free economy, I am not allowed to decide to whom I want to occupy MY property.

    For sure, this one will be easy to sort out. If they want my property and are on benefits, I will just say that I have found a tenant who is prepared to pay me 50% more than them. Hence knocking them out of the game completely.

    Can they match it?

  • icon

    Good old Shelter. The charity (Business) that houses no one.


    It houses Polly and that is all she cares about.

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    • 21 April 2021 10:59 AM

    So much for freedom...now I can't decide who I let my property to?! Reading about all the horror stories from landlords, I'd rather leave my property empty than let dss tenants in. The entitlement attitude and arrogance of these people is shocking. Always seeking money from someone else, always wanting compensation, always wanting something....want want want....that's all they know. What do they give to the economy and society? Nothing! Apart from anti social behaviour, beer cans and cigarettes in hand fighting in town centres in broad daylight, stealing in shops, lazy individuals watching their sky satellite tv. Generous benefits system that protects all the lazy parasites and you wonder why foreigners risk their lives on dinghy boats to come to England?!

    • 21 April 2021 19:15 PM

    The starting point for any credibility is for local authorities to pay the rent directly to the landlord. Only then will there be any trust and stability.

    Until then I will not take ANY DSS tenants. Full stop.
    Fine me if you like......You local authorities get no DSS people from me.

    • 21 April 2021 19:18 PM

    Excellent and so correct.

  • Matthew Payne

    I doubt this was a maverick member of staff, more likely that in spite of all the publicity, MJ & Co hadnt got around to implementing a policy and carrying out some training to make sure their staff knew how to handle these calls without tripping themselves up. Agents need to beware, it wont be long before Shelter start recruiting tenants to make these calls and see who they can get to take the bait.

  • icon

    It is really amazing reading all the comments about not renting to people on DSS. The image that you have about DSS tenants are that they are trouble makers, destroy property etc. Well I am a DSS with a law degree and 21 years of service with local government but following 2 heart attacks I have been medically retired at
    42. I have been renting privately for the past 7 years without any problems now I need to move to a ground flr property am being refused my current doesn't have any properties in the area am moving to. They are willing to give me a reference yet still getting refused. I was even asked by one agent to have 3 months rent up front cause am on DSS and I said ok and yet still refused.
    Many of you fail to realise that no everyone who is in receipt of DSS choose to be on benefits, like myself some of us is on medical grounds. I have a few friends and ex colleagues whom like myself are now on benefits after several years of working for local government. 1 had a stroke at work another has Cancer 3 had car accidents. They need housing yet you guys would refuse them. No one know what tomorrow will bring especially with this Covid where so many lives as well as jobs are being lost. What you guys fail to realise getting DSS and having housing benefits is guaranteed by the government every month unlike a job. If you rent out to people whom have long term dss claim you are guaranteed more than someone whom can loses they job tomorrow.
    I pray that the day doesn't come when anyone of you or your families need housing and are refused due to DSS.


    Valerie, I completely sympathise with your situation but it is outside my experience as in my area you would be housed by the social sector in a lovely flat. They have an abundance of such property, the reason being is they get enormous subsidies to house vulnerable tenants but chose only to house the ones that are easy to house.

    As for discriminating against DSS tenants I have been a landlord for 30 years. Last year I housed over 1000 tenants mainly in HMOs and my experience is that 99.99% of problem tenants are DSS. Every antisocial tenant has been DSS and nearly every tenant I have evicted for rent arrears has been DSS and I operate a no eviction policy. I only evict those who wilfully refuse to pay the rent. Every tenant who has tried to sue me, usually for tripping over their own feet has been DSS. Yet I still house DSS tenants but completely understand why no landlord in their right mind would house them if they had a choice.

    I say my worst and best tenants are DSS, get the right DSS tenant they stay, they pay and they behave. The unfortunate problem with working tenants is that they even though they pay and behave they do not stay and it cost me a lot every time a tenant leaves.

    The other problem with housing DSS tenants, is you are criticised for being the recipient of public funds and I have had public protests for housing what are labelled by the protestors as 'scum tenants'.

    If Shelter was serious about the issue of housing DSS tenants they would do something about ensuring landlords get paid Universal Credit and the massive subsidies that the social sector get to house vulnerable tenants and how the social sector are avoiding this liability by dumping the problem tenants on the private sector whilst keeping tenants, who would be no problem like Valerie, to themselves. In my area it is difficult for under 25-year-olds who are unemployed to find accommodation. The social sector in my area are paid three times what I get to house under 35-year-olds. If I was paid a lot more to house DSS, I would be keener and less selective when it comes to housing DSS. The reason I will house youngsters is that I was brought up in care and ended up homeless so I have sympathy with such tenants but now I am very careful who I will house. I will no longer house anyone who is homeless without thoroughly checking them out as most will wreck my property and not pay and I will get blamed for housing them.

    Jim Haliburton
    The HMO Daddy

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    • 22 April 2021 09:43 AM

    Of course, there are exceptions.

    Unfortunately, Valerie, you are forced to suffer because of the majority of DSS tenants who actually do trash houses and do not pay rents and let their dog fill the garden up with sh*t!

    I know......I have had 5 or 6 of them. And even now some of them do not even pay up their CCJ's for many, many years........One day they will have to pay though.

    And that kind of behaviour makes me decline similar types and I will NOT take the risk ever again. No matter what credentials they have.

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    I had a terrible experience with a woman on benefits with five children in 2015 and she didn't pay my rent for 18 months while I was going through the court to evict her. She and her boyfriend were actually growing carnabis in my house and the police refused to come despite many phone calls. I ended up losing more than £25k including solicitors fees before getting her out of my house. It was a very terrible experience for me and my wife.

    Theodor Cable

    Abi: Disgusting and unfair for you .
    When will the UK get a system like Australia and Germany?

    The day after default and the police and bailfs go round and evict the tenent by law.

    Strangely, in both countries there is virtuly no evictions, and that saves both countries BILLIONS of pounds in legal costs and court time.

    Boris should take better care of his budgets.

    So why not?

  • maureen graham

    my son is in same situation aged 47 all landlords we have tried are telling us that they cant take dss as owner is not covered on insurane really dont know what they are getting at or is this just a way round of not taking people on dss

    Theodor Cable

    And why is he in that position?
    Has he examed why he is in trouble?

    I suspect we know why!!!!!

  • icon

    The reality is that DSS Tenants are not as financially stable as working Tenants . Couple that with the politics of social housing and the increasing difficulty in evicting poor/non paying Tenants, most Landlords wish to stay well clear.
    An agent's job is to risk assess and select the Tenant with the necessary financial credentials. Would a lender give a mortgage to a DSS applicant? Not a cat in hells chance so why bully/expect a Landlord to take a risk they don't have to?
    It is not up to the private rental sector to sort the social housing crisis in this county. We are a business that relies on repeat business, directly born out by the Tenants we select. Stop blaming us and direct your angst elsewhere.


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