Saying No to DSS? Say No to inequality instead
Landlords who are advertising their property, and openly state that they do not accept DSS tenants, may be at risk of breaking equality laws.
There is a lot of uproar regarding those landlords who advertise with their properties as “NO DSS”. As times are getting hard, more people are getting some form of income support from the council. For those landlords who have a large portfolio of properties, one late payment from the Housing Benefit Office isn’t the end of the world. However for those smaller scale landlords who rely on their properties to pay off their own mortgage or fund their retirement, a delayed payment is a big deal.
The problem that some landlords have with DSS Tenants, is not necessarily down to the tenants themselves but rather with the way the council pay out for their housing benefit claim. The housing benefit payments are consistently about a month behind on payments. Not only this but they insist on paying in 13, 4 weekly instalments rather than per calendar month, meaning that when they do pay out, the tenant is usually still in arrears due to no fault of their own.
The problem then arises that it would appear that landlords are discriminating against those tenants who claim housing benefit. This usually involves single mothers who are having a hard time finding work and providing child care at the same time.
A court case in 2017, granted a single mother £2000 because a letting agent refused to even consider a single mother and her children as tenants purely based on the fact she was claiming housing benefit. Had the company referenced the applicant, they would have seen that she had been with her previous landlord for 11 years and had never missed a rental payment and had never caused any damage or disruption whilst she lived at the property and would not have posed any financial risk to the landlord.
To ensure that you are not breaking any inequalities law, we advise that you give every applicant an equal chance to apply for a property, subject to referencing. We would also suggest that when accepting tenants that are on housing benefit, that you ask for the full first months rent and deposit upfront before moving in, this just adds an extra layer of security for you as a landlord.
To avoid prosecution we advise you treat all applicants for a property with the same level of respect, and do not single out any potential tenants due to their form of financial income.