Councils using ‘Intelligence’ to track down low EPC properties and fine £5,00015:08 PM, 29th March 2021
About 2 weeks ago 36
Judge Mary Stacey has ruled in favour of Stephen Tyler in County Court that a Birmingham letting agent unlawfully prevented him from viewing a property on the basis that he was in receipt of housing benefit.
Stephen Tyler, aged 29 and disabled, was represented by Shelter solicitor, Rose Arnall, who successfully argued that a blanket ban on allowing viewings for prospective tenants in receipt of housing benefits was a breach of the Equality Act because it disproportionally affects disabled people, who are more likely to need rental income support.
Sheltered represented their own finding indicating that 45% of private renters who claim disability benefits also claim housing benefit.
Judge Mary Stacey said: “There is no doubt that there was a blanket policy that no one in receipt of housing benefit would be considered for the three properties. It put the claimant and other disabled people at a particular disadvantage when compared to others.
“To be told simply, because of his benefit status that he could not apply for three properties which were perfectly located for his children’s school, his GP and health needs, and extended family support would be distressing.
“We make a declaration that the defendant has unlawfully indirectly discriminated against the claimant by imposing a provision, criteria or practice that those in receipt of housing benefit could not apply to those three properties.”
Responded to the ruling Shelter’s chief executive, Polly Neate, said: “Shelter has been fighting ‘No DSS’ discrimination for the past two years, because we know it pushes people to the brink of homelessness and leaves many feeling worthless.
“This win proves yet again that blanket bans against people on housing benefit are unlawful because they overwhelmingly bar women and disabled people like Stephen, who are more likely to need help with their rent, from finding a safe home.
“It’s senseless that people who can afford private rents are being forced into homelessness by blind prejudice. It’s now time for landlords and letting agents do better; they must consider tenants fairly based on their ability to afford the rent not where their income comes from and Shelter will continue campaigning until ‘No DSS’ is fully stamped out.”
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