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Ombudsman rules on tenants with children discrimination case

The Property Ombudsman has ruled that a letting agency’s ban on renting to a family with children was discriminatory against women and contravenes its code of practice. 

The ruling - which, unusually, does not name any letting agency concerned - comes after NHS Nurse Lexi Levens challenged a number of agents after she and her four children had been forced to register as homeless.

That came following receipt of a Section 21 eviction notice: she and her husband passed affordability checks but say they were not able to find landlords or letting agents who would rent to them.


The campaigning charity Shelter took up the case to The Property Ombudsman which has ruled that ‘no children’ bans breach equality rules set out in its code of practice because women are disproportionately affected.

Levens says in a statement released via Shelter: “My situation was nothing short of distressing and humiliating. I’m so thrilled by the outcome of the challenge, this has never been about money for me, but about putting a stop to families like mine being treated unfairly.”

The director of policy at TPO, Peter Habert, comments: “Whilst rental properties are investments for landlords, they are homes for tenants. To be excluded from a significant portion of the homes available simply because you have children cannot be considered as treating consumers equally.

“Prospective tenants should only expect to see these restrictions in property adverts and listings if the property is unsuitable, for example it doesn’t have enough space.”

He warns that agents who receive an instruction from a landlord to not let to families should ask the client to provide evidence of why a ban is appropriate and for this to be given to prospective tenants.

Rose Arnall, a solicitor at Shelter, adds: "No one should be barred from finding a safe and stable home simply because they have children. Whether you can secure a home must not be based on a landlord or letting agent's baseless prejudices about the 'type' of tenant you might be. This is a great step forward in addressing the power imbalance which sees tenants hitting unfair barriers and being forced to jump through ridiculous hoops."

  • jeremy clarke

    Does anyone support private landlords nowadays? Pets, loads of kids, what next?

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    and everyone wonders why landlords are leaving the PRS could it be they feel they don't have control over their own property/investment

  • Matthew Payne

    Its a mess of governments making once more, albeit the agent shouldnt be advetrtising a blanket ban of any kind, we have seen they arent tolerated, that's simply foolish. All kinds of tenants whose lifestyles and situation create high dilaps will contunue to be marginalised until the deposit cap is lifted, whether thats familiies with young children, young groups of sharers, people with pets etc. These cases do very little to help 99% of people that fall into these groups, landlords and agents are still free to choose safer, more low maintenance tenants, it s free market economy after all.

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    So despite the fact that it was a married couple, it was discriminatory against women? Congratulations to Peter Habert on squaring that circle and well done to Polly Bleat for persuading more landlords to sell up.

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    Maybe it was the Agents 'judgment call' but not in a discriminatory way.
    We have flats/houses on our portfolio where neighbours have historical issues living next door to children, 'renters', etc and, once moved in, go about making the tenants feel very unwelcome. So, in the instance of these properties, we often state 'no children' as a way of protecting the tenant from unkindness; are we now being unkind?
    You just cannot win in anyone's eyes when attempting to do the right thing for all.....

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    Also they have conveniently left out details about the types of properties the family were applying for. As a family of 6, if they were applying for two bedroom properties, or possibly even three bedroom properties (if they were small three beds) then they would have been rejected due to overcrowding and the number of children, not simply the fact they had children. It wouldn't matter whether they met the affordability threshold if the properties simply weren't suitable.


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