Equality laws could affect “no benefit tenants” policies

by Property 118

10:52 AM, 26th February 2018
About A year ago

Equality laws could affect “no benefit tenants” policies

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Equality laws could affect “no benefit tenants” policies

Lettings agent Nicholas George recently admitted indirect discrimination on the grounds of sex, settling out of court with single mother Rosie Keogh. She was paid £2,000 compensation, because her application was refused on the grounds of being in receipt of benefits.

The action was reported today on the BBC news website (Click here to read the full story) stating: “The thousands of lettings agents and landlords around the country who reject housing benefit claimants could be flouting equality laws, due a recent legal case.

Rosie tried to rent a property in Birmingham and was turned down after revealing some of the rent would be paid by housing benefit. She immediately  made a complaint on the grounds that single women are proportionately more likely to be claiming housing benefit than single men.

The agents dismissed Rosie’s complaint, which as a former paralegal she took to county court establishing the principle of sexual discrimination under the Equality Act. Rosie told the BBC: “I felt something had to be done to challenge it. I was motivated by anger at such inequitable practice.

“It made me feel like a second-class citizen. You are being treated differently and it’s women and women with children who are bearing the brunt of this because they need to work part time.”

A Shelter survey last year of 1137 private landlords found 18% preferred not to let to benefits claimants and  43% had a blanket ban.

Shelter’s legal officer commented:”By applying a blanket policy they are actually preventing good tenants from accessing the private rented sector.

“Women are more likely to be caring for children and therefore working part-time and are therefore more likely to top up their income by claiming housing benefit.”

The NLA head of policy, Chris Norris, responded to the case saying: “Cases like this highlight the very worst of what a minority of renters have to put up with when looking to secure a home in the private rented sector.”

“The number of landlords willing to rent to housing benefit tenants has fallen dramatically over the last few years, because cuts to welfare and problems with the universal credit system are making it more and more difficult for anyone in receipt of housing support to pay their rent on time and sustain long-term tenancies.”



Comments

Prakash Tanna

8:44 AM, 2nd March 2018
About A year ago

Reply to the comment left by DALE ROBERTS at 01/03/2018 - 13:45
FYI - In future (if you are minded to take on HB/LHA tenants again) and end up in a similar situation with 2 months+ rent arrears all you need to do is email the HB department of the relevant council and provide:
1) Details of the tenant (name, address, d.o.b). Though am not sure if this breached DPA. Due you own research !!
2) State you are the landlord and they are in rent arrears
3) Provide copies of the AST and rent statement.
4) Request all future HB payments are made directly to you and provide your bank account details.

Also, if they have (am sure most councils do) a homeless prevention team, get in touch with them and inform them what is going on. If the tenant is being evicted for non-payment of rent and they are in receipt of HB payments then they are potentially making themselves homeless and the Council can cease to have a duty of care to them. Being told this from the council tends to have a positive effect on rent forth coming !!!

DALE ROBERTS

12:14 PM, 2nd March 2018
About A year ago

Reply to the comment left by Prakash Tanna at 02/03/2018 - 08:44Thank you Prakash. That is very good advice. However, in my case, the tenant deliberately hid the fact that she was a benefits recipient. I only discovered same after her history was disclosed to me by the eviction company I am using who, fortunately, were the same company to evict her from the unit next door to mine before she took occupation of my property.
As I have no idea from which Council she is receiving benefits my initial foray into making contact with the local Council was met with a blatant refusal to discuss whether the tenant was a housing benefits recipient or not citing data protection laws. As such, further rental arrears accrued until I was directed to a company called Caridon who have written to the Council on my behalf. Presently I am awaiting the Writs of Possession and Control to be issued from the High Court and hopefully I will be rid of the tenant within the month if she doesn't raise further spurious defences. She's well versed in prolonging her possession! But this does limit my ability to get HB paid to me that would in any way address the 7 months outstanding arrears.
Of course the tenant is making herself deliberately "homeless". By now she has acquired a slew of judgements and an eviction history that is outrageous in number. She has no other alternative. And if Councils are aware that they could be made to pay the HB directly to the landlord why do they advise the tenant to stop paying rent on receipt of a Section 21 and to further deliberately withhold same when served a Section 8 AND remain in situ till Bailiffs arrive to forcefully evict her and remove her assets. It doesn't make sense to me. Unless the agenda is a deliberate ruse to make the landlord responsible for the social housing shortage. And that should be sueable as far as I am concerned.
And not only does my mortgage provider prohibit me from housing a benefits tenant - I would refuse to based on the very real probability of repeating the same scenario I now find myself in. I refuse to jeopardise myself again to a potential loss of my present more than GBP20 000.00.

Monty Bodkin

12:49 PM, 2nd March 2018
About A year ago

Up to date advice on direct 'DSS' payment;

https://www.property118.com/dwp-complaints/

DALE ROBERTS

13:13 PM, 2nd March 2018
About A year ago

Reply to the comment left by Monty Bodkin at 02/03/2018 - 12:49
Thank you Monty.
I handed the tenant and her arrears to Sherrelle of Caridon on the 26th February. I will update the forum if I have any success. She responded promptly, unlike The Sheriff's Office (aka David Asker) to whom I wrote on the 25th February and my query remains unanswered. The High Court Enforcement Group in comparison are a polished and professional organisation who responded within the hour and gave me invaluable guidance over a period of a few days and who I would not hesitate to recommend. Basically if there are no assets to attach a Writ of Control is worthless. But do a trace on the debtor every year to see if their circumstances have altered and if so enforce your CCJ.

Prakash Tanna

16:48 PM, 2nd March 2018
About A year ago

Reply to the comment left by Monty Bodkin at 02/03/2018 - 12:49
Thanks Monty ... useful link. BUT, I think that relates to tenants on UC (Universal Credit) paid by the DWP as opposed to the advice I gave earlier of tenants in receipt of HB (Housing Benefit), usually from their local council.

Prakash Tanna

16:56 PM, 2nd March 2018
About A year ago

Reply to the comment left by DALE ROBERTS at 02/03/2018 - 12:14
Dale, the tenant will usually be in receipt of HB from the local council. Unless they were placed from another council out of the area. BUT even then, I thought their HB claim got transferred over ? Though am not 100% sure about that one!

If they receive UC then it's from the DWP and Monty provided a useful link above.

I have never come across or experienced a Council advising tenants to stop paying rent after a s21 Notice has been served and am very surprised to learn they have done that. It's not on!

Generally speaking, most if not all tenants in rent arrears are likely to sit tight and not leave till the bailiff comes knocking. I'm not defending the Council's on this one (as I too think it's wrong) but do understand why they advise tenants to sit tight until they are evicted. It's purely because thats how the law in this country works. The s21 Notice is not legally enforceable without a court order, which can only then be enforced by a Bailiff !

Goodluck with your eviction and I hope you get shot of this difficult person soon as poss !!

Monty Bodkin

17:35 PM, 2nd March 2018
About A year ago

Reply to the comment left by Prakash Tanna at 02/03/2018 - 16:48And that admirably illustrates why the industry still refers to it all as simply 'DSS'.
They can re-label it LHA, HB, UC or even MZP (Martian Zonk Payment) but everyone knows it as DSS.

moneymanager

7:31 AM, 3rd March 2018
About A year ago

Reply to the comment left by Martin Crossley at 26/02/2018 - 12:28
Assistance dogs are not classified as pets.

Prakash Tanna

7:34 AM, 3rd March 2018
About A year ago

Reply to the comment left by Monty Bodkin at 02/03/2018 - 17:35
Does 'everyone' still refer to Council Tax as 'Poll Tax' as well then?

FYI the Department of Social Security (DSS) was dissolved in 2001, some 17 years ago. I see no reason why the industry should not learn the correct terminology irregardless of whether we chose to accept this category of tenants or not. It's just good practice.

Unless of course the term DSS is being deliberately used in a derogatory manner of course !

Richard Mann

8:13 AM, 3rd March 2018
About A year ago

Reply to the comment left by Monty Bodkin at 02/03/2018 - 17:35
550 Zonks a month for a decent 2 bedder in a nice area seems very reasonable.
Anyone got change of a 50zonk note?

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