Landlords warned not to discriminate against benefits tenants

by Property 118

8:58 AM, 14th July 2020
About 3 weeks ago

Landlords warned not to discriminate against benefits tenants

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Landlords warned not to discriminate against benefits tenants

The NRLA warns landlords should not have blanket policies that discriminate against those in receipt of benefits. Responding to a court case in York which has ruled that it is unlawful for landlords to discriminate in this way, Chris Norris, Policy Director for the National Residential Landlords Association, said:

“No landlord should discriminate against tenants, because they are in receipt of benefits. Every tenant’s circumstance is different and so they should be treated on a case by case basis based on their ability to sustain a tenancy.”

“More broadly, the Government can also support this work by ensuring benefits cover rents entirely. It should also convert the loans to cover the five week wait for the first payment of Universal Credit into grants.”

The ruling was a test case for Shelter’s No DSS campaign to end benefits based discrimination within the PRS.

District Judge, Victoria Elizabeth Mark, said: “Rejecting tenancy applications because the applicant is in receipt of housing benefit was unlawfully indirectly discriminatory on the grounds of sex and disability, contrary to the Equality Act 2010.”

The solicitor for Shelter who led the case, Rose Arnall, said:“This is the first time a court has fully considered a case like this. It finally clarifies that discriminating against people in need of housing benefit is not just morally wrong, it is against the law.”



Comments

Trapped Landlord

11:56 AM, 18th July 2020
About 3 weeks ago

Reply to the comment left by Jonathan Clarke at 17/07/2020 - 03:19This post is almost a carbon copy of how I would describe this mess that has unfolded at our company over that last few years. A combination desperate dss tenants with very little to offer other that a low housing allowance ( which you may or may not have paid directly to you as landlord in a month or two), local authorities that seem to be getting ever more officious once these ' grateful ' tenants begin running to the environmental health officers over disrepair, which the vast majority of the time is merely a ploy to obtain social housing. We are seeing this more and more. Why on earth would we entertain the idea of this now in a time where every landlord in the area is being bombarded with interest from working families who are physically and mentally capable of maintaining the house and garden etc.
I cannot / will not spend 90% of my time chasing these people for top up rents , confronting them on anti social behaviour. This game, and it is a game is becoming more and more predictable and frustrating if you opt to get involved with it.
So, I am afraid, unless I am fairly sure that an applicant is going to abide by the tenancy, they will simply not get a phone call back and I am happy to leave the property empty until the right person comes along.
The council can have the lot of them !!

Paul Shears

12:25 PM, 18th July 2020
About 3 weeks ago

Reply to the comment left by Trapped Landlord at 18/07/2020 - 11:56
You have summed up the reality succinctly and it is exactly the view that I take.

Mick Roberts

7:59 AM, 19th July 2020
About 3 weeks ago

Reply to the comment left by Jonathan Clarke at 17/07/2020 - 03:19
Great words Jonathan. Govt should listen to them words.

John Dace

13:57 PM, 30th July 2020
About 6 days ago

I will not discriminate. I will be asking working tenants ,”is there any chance your employer can come to me and claw back rent money you paid me.? Or any risk anyone can demand rent back from me for any reason? Then ask same question of benefit / UC applicant.
For me - the possibility of a claw back of rent by council/ UC because boyfriend slept over or they did a cash in hand job etc is totally unfair. They do stuff we have no control over - we pay.
That will always be my reason for declining.

Chris @ Possession Friend

14:27 PM, 30th July 2020
About 6 days ago

Won't change the facts that Benefit is below market rent in 97% of the country, according to Shelters own figures.
Only question to Tenants is, can you afford the rent ? - virtually all on benefit will answer NO.
Given Shelter's 'helpful' case in Samuels v Birmingham City Council where the court found it unlawful to take benefit payments other than the housing element into account, - Shelter have sewn up the predicament for benefit tenants 'very nicely !'
If Shelter ever 'smell the coffee' they'll realise they're hurting far more Tenants than they think they're helping.

Darlington Landlord

17:16 PM, 30th July 2020
About 6 days ago

Reply to the comment left by Chris @ Possession Friend at 30/07/2020 - 14:27
Joe Halewood who blogs as spyejoe has a devastating critique of Shelters undue influence, why homelessness is not going to end and why abolishing section 21 will make it worse. He breaks down the figures in forensic detail and pulls apart the usual suspects arguments whilst pointing out that there are more SRS tenants at risk of eviction than PRS!

Quote - "Shelter’s myopic, dogmatic and assumption-led strategies regarding solving homelessness are ones devoid of any factual basis or fact-checking and nothing more than populist claptrap of which only Trump and Johnson would approve"

Well worth a read!
https://speyejoe2.wordpress.com/2020/07/29/can-we-solve-homelessness-in-england-the-facts-say-absolutely-not/comment-page-1/#comment-5195

Chris @ Possession Friend

17:37 PM, 30th July 2020
About 6 days ago

Reply to the comment left by Darlington Landlord at 30/07/2020 - 17:16
Yes Darlington, I subscribe to Joe's emails. He is regularly scathing about Shelter ( which by and of itself, is quite endearing 😉 and as you say he often posts copious evidence that obviously escapes MHCLG, or they are incapable of understanding.

Alison King

11:00 AM, 4th August 2020
About A day ago

I've just placed adverts via Openrent and Spareroom and both require a selection box to be ticked saying "housing benefit accepted yes/no". It's not helpful having that as an option if we can be lulled into breaking the law.

Chris @ Possession Friend

13:09 PM, 4th August 2020
About A day ago

Reply to the comment left by Alison King at 04/08/2020 - 11:00
That's interesting Alison,
Personally, if I were advertising a property with them, I wouldn't complete that question, leaving it blank to avoid incrimination.

My own instructions to letting Agents who advertise and find tenants for me is to seek a suitable tenant that can afford the rent and has a reliable history ( I'm paraphrasing quite a lot here )
I have a property in an area that Housing benefit is at or quite close to market rent and I knew when I purchased the property that it was in an area 'heavily inhabited by tenants in receipt of benefit. ( wow, how diplomatic was that 😉
In those circumstances I would ' Consider ' a tenant in receipt of benefit, as I've had some good ones although as a percentage, the odds are stacked against such Tenants. I recently let such a property to the 79th applicant after a void of about 5 months, eventually as it happens to working tenants ( who could become unemployed at any time, more especially in current climate, of course ) But at least I know that if I had to ask for direct payment, the Housing element would cover the rent. This of curse is a 'bonus' if you can consider such, as the property is in Wales who have just 'done landlords legs' by lengthening the Sec 21 / 8 Notice period to 6 months, the Bar stewards.

In another property I rent where the Housing allowance doesn't meet the market rent for the property which is nowhere near the kind of Price and quality that the very mean housing allowance covers, I used to save tenants time and tell letting agents I don't consider Tenants in receipt of benefit ( or No DSS, as its historically known )
Now since the York Shelter case, I would just instruct the letting Agent to apply the affordability criteria with a Guarantor, such that an applicant benefit tenant would NEVER be able to meet ( unless the Govt Doubled the Housing allowance overnight, - unlikely )
The saying comes to mind, ' more than one way to skin a cat'
Unfortunately for genuine tenants in receipt of benefit, I don't see the York case making a single property becoming more available to tenants as a result. Just cause a little more frustration and waste of time for everyone concerned, and shows Shelters blatant misunderstanding of the PRS.

Shelter would better expend their energy taking Local Authorities to task over their over-speculation in Commercial property, at the expense of ignoring Council - affordable house building. As a result of the commercial impact on rented property, L.A's are now running, 'cap-in-hand' to Government for bail-outs by Tax-payers ( that includes Landlords AND Tenants ) for their commercial speculation folly.
On the one hand, we have Govt regularly publishing ( and have done for decades ) overly ambitious house-building targets that never get anywhere near being met. Then L.A.'s not using Millions of £'s of their Council Tax payers funds in gambling on the return from Commercial investment. We can clearly see that L.A's have not got the slightest interest in providing Council - affordable housing, withdrawing from such and leaving it to the PRS. ( Can't blame them not wanting the hassle of the benefit tenants I suppose, especially at little ROI ! )
Sorely lacking in management and Leadership from MHCLG !!!

Jonathan Clarke

21:15 PM, 5th August 2020
About 37 minutes ago

Reply to the comment left by Alison King at 04/08/2020 - 11:00
Its a good point you raise and I had noticed that too and queried it with Open Rent . They gave a response and I can understand their take on it as to why they still give the option to accept or reject DSS. They said

``..... we are aware that many landlords are unable to do so ( accept dss ) as a result of restrictions outside of their control. For example limitations imposed by mortgage lenders, insurance holders, superior landlords or referencing requirements.``

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