No DSS rental ads are ‘discriminatory’

Rosie Arnall, the solicitor for Shelter who won the court case

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Argyll and Bute has fared well in an investigation into landlords refusing to rent properties to people on benefits.

It follows a court case in July brought by the housing and homeless charity Shelter when a judge agreed that the blanket ban ‘No DSS’ – was unlawful, discriminatory and contravened equality laws.

DSS has been used as shorthand to mean benefits claimants in a throw back to the Department of Social Security, which is now the Department for Works & Pensions.

The BBC’s shared data unit examined landlords advertising properties on OpenRent.

It found there were more listings for those who would accept renters with pets than people claiming benefits. However, in Argyll and Bute, all of the advertisers accepted renters on benefits, it found.

Polly Neate, chief executive of Shelter, said: ‘No DSS discrimination is outdated, grossly unfair – and it’s unlawful under the Equality Act. Last month’s ruling should be a wake-up call for landlords and letting agents to clean up their act and treat all renters equally.

‘We won’t stop fighting DSS discrimination until it’s banished for good.’

The National Residential Landlords Association said it had always advised landlords not to blanket ban benefit claimants. It said a variety of factors were behind why benefit claimants were not always accepted.

This included the timeliness and levels of benefit awards, with complaints about delays in Universal Credit. There can also be a shortfall between housing benefit and private sector rents, or the renter receiving fluctuating levels of benefits.

Furthermore, the NRLA said banks and insurers regarded benefit claimants as a ‘higher risk’. Some mortgage agreements also blocked renting to benefit claimants, with insurance premiums sometimes higher.