No DSS: Second court case confirms estate agencies must not discriminate against housing benefit tenants

Reperesented by a Shelter solicitor, a disabled man has won his case against housing benefit discrimination at Birmingham County Court. This is the second time a UK court has ruled ‘No DSS’ unlawful.

Stephen Tyler, 29, was able to successfully prove ‘No DSS’ discrimination is unlawful and in breach of the Equality Act after he was barred from viewing properties advertised by a Birmingham estate agent, purely on the grounds of receiving housing benefit.

The discrimination Tyler faced was deemed in breach of the Equality Act because it disproportionally affects disabled people, who are more likely to need some support with paying their rent.

Having listened to the merits of the case, Judge Mary Stacey ruled that: “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.”

The Tyler family lost their home in February 2018 after they asked the landlord to make some disability adaptations to their home, and the landlord responded by serving the family with a Section 21 ‘no fault’ eviction notice. Tyler has used a wheelchair since a road traffic accident in December 2016 and lives with mental health issues.

When looking for a suitable new property to rent, he was told by the West Midlands firm of Paul Carr Estate Agents that it was “company policy” to refuse to rent to people who receive housing benefit. This was despite him having a clean rental record and having always paid his rent on time.

Polly Neate, chief executive of Shelter, said:

“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 to 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.”

Following the judgement, Paul Carr, director of Paul Carr Estate Agents, told EYE:

“We are extremely disappointed at the outcome of this case.

“We are equally disappointed that Shelter are continuing  to pursue their political agenda and anti-letting agent stance.

“They are, in our opinion, only succeeding in making life even more difficult, in already difficult times, for conscientious and reputable letting agents and the PRS in general.

“Ironically, following the Rosie Keogh out of court settlement, we changed our policy regarding no DSS.

“The pivotal facts of this case were purely based on a simple and isolated administrative error.”

 

OPINION – Why the ‘no DSS’ ban is timely but will not solve housing insecurity

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9 Comments

  1. frostieclaret87

    Shelter are a left wing anti capitalist organisation with an anti landlord agenda using housing as a platform to press their ideology.

    They provide not one bed for the homeless.

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    1. Bless You

      Pay the landlord directly.. the problem goes away.

       

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      1. Will2

        The problem will be alleviated to some degree.  Not every landlord will agree and to the clowns out there it is fundamentally wrong not to allow those who invest their hard earnt cash into property to have it enforced upon them who they may and may not accept as tenants.  It is and was always intended to be a private rented sector. However, our political cretins have decided not to build appropriate levels of social housing (indeed they have asset stripped them) and feel they can force the PRS to accept anyone who wants to rent a property, whether they can afford it or not.  I have a disabled son so I am not without compasion but know how incompetent the DWP are. So called charities like shelter merely have political ambitions and house nobody, they provide no shelter to anyone. Why are those who are so intent on landlord bashing so thick they do not realise landlords can provide accommodation and should be worked with and encouraged rather than being driven out of the sector by the classic Mrs May hostile environment conservative policy. Boris and your buddies you need to wake up.

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  2. Ryan Baker

    Shelter could actually do a favour by introducing a tenant passport or something similar. Also by allowing landlords/agents to easily get the payments from UC and local council would make it more easier to let the property out to the DSS tenants. The council has various departments who deal with housing. You just don’t know who is  what … all are good tenants as per them… their own house is not in order. The council officers work hard to house one individual. They would mostly mess around not paying any monies. After being evicted they end up again in another department of the council that deals with homeless people. The story repeats again. In this the genuine & needy get penalised. We would accept a DSS at any time providing they have good references ,good credit history and could provide a guarantor. If someone is getting DSS rent supper  it’s more easier for them to pay the rent. All comes down to the individual person.

    Give landlords the power to be able to evict bad tenants swiftly and higher penalties to tenants for not paying rent. It will certainly change the way agents and landlords look at DSS tenants

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  3. fluter

    Renting a property is a risk based business and most landlords want to reduce that risk as much as possible. When an agent has two potential tenants, one of which is a couple who rely on UC and after basic living costs are taken out, is left with a small amount of disposable income, the other is a working couple whose disposable income is considerably higher, please explain why the agent and landlord should choose the first couple?

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  4. Woodentop

    Simple fix:

     

    1.    If the state is providing the housing benefit, the payment must be paid to the landlord or agent (Blare & Co stopped it), not the tenant to swan off on holiday or buy a 60″ TV that falls off the chimney breast.

     

    2.   Claw backs for housing benefit should not be the responsibility of the landlord and claiming it from block benefit payments to agents is nothing more than stealing by the housing department. The landlord honoured their side of the contract and provided the roof over the tenants head. It is the tenant that arranges the housing benefit payment, so if they lie, default etc that means the benefit is stopped … Tenant goes, it isn’t the landlord that has defaulted. Why should they get free housing in the PRS!!!!!! Councils should chase the tenant and not kick the goolies of the landlord for dishonest behaviour of tenants and grab the rent back from landlords.

     

    3.  It should be a criminal offence for tenants to obtain housing by false representation in applications and damage to property in excess of deposit, rent arrears that exceed 6 months. Currently they walk away laughing at a system that is failing to protect PRS from those that are well versed in dishonesty and assisted by the likes of Shelter.

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  5. smile please

    Shelter are actively looking to catch agents out on this.

     

    When they do, they then try and settle for thousands out of court.

     

    They are a disgrace.

     

    If you do not want housing benefit just say they need to provide a guarantor, get evidence they have one that meets the criteria before allowing to view. Gets rid of most the time wasters.

     

     

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    1. Tegs Dad

      Make sure the guarantor is a UK-based Home-owning Guarantor.

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  6. Russell121

    All this does is waste the prospective tenants time as there are more than one way to skin a cat if Landlords don’t want benefit tenants.

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