One in ten rental properties listed on Zoopla specify ‘no benefits tenants’

One in ten rental properties being advertised on Zoopla explicitly exclude anyone who is claiming benefits, research claims.

Analysis by the National Housing Federation (NHF) of 85,912 properties listed for rent across England on Zoopla this year found 8,710 that openly said “No DSS” or similar.

Separately, Shelter has conducted a mystery shopping exercise on Gumtree and, finding that applicants who mentioned that they were claiming benefits were more than twice as likely to get negative responses as those who did not.

While it is not unlawful to refuse to let to people on benefits, Shelter has earlier argued that excluding benefit claimants is discriminatory and has been rumoured to be considering a legal case under the Equality Act.

The issue has prompted much debate on EYE, with agents stating it is landlords who want this exclusion due to the perceived higher risks of rental arrears, while groups such as the Residential Landlords Association have blamed the terms and conditions set by mortgage lenders.

The NHF said that the “blatant discrimination” against people on benefits must stop.

It has issued a series of recommendations.

It calls for agents and their professional bodies to ensure all renters are treated equally, and that such exclusions are refused on listings sites.

It also wants landlords to stop using letting agents who advise against letting to tenants on housing benefit. The NHF said landlords should instead assess each tenant based on the property and whether they can afford it, rather than where the money comes from.

The NHF said: “We are calling on everyone involved in the lettings industry to take action to stop the unfair treatment of people who claim housing benefit.

“This change requires agents, landlords, mortgage lenders, insurance providers and the Government to commit to ensuring that all renters are treated equally, regardless of whether they claim housing benefit.”

Separately, Universal Credit has been blamed for a spike in buy-to-let mortgages that are in significant arrears.

Data from UK Finance shows that the number of buy-to-let loans with more significant arrears of 10% or more was up 3% annually to 1,150.

Mark Pilling, managing director at Spicerhaart Corporate Sales, which deals with arrears and repossessions on behalf of lenders, said these figures suggest issues with Universal Credit are starting to impact landlords.

He said: “Last month, the Residential Landlords Association revealed that 61% of landlords with tenants receiving Universal Credit have had problems with non-payment and arrears, and on average, these tenants owe 49% more than they did a year ago.

“Universal Credit has been plagued by problems since it was introduced, and while the Government announced in the Budget that more money will be dedicated to the new welfare system, it is clear that much of the damage has already been done.

“Many claimants experienced huge delays in receiving their money, forcing them into arrears, and many are receiving far less than they did with the old system, which means in many cases they simply do not have enough money to pay their rent on their reduced incomes.

“From a lender’s point of view, it is important that they keep a close eye on their buy-to-let customers who have tenants who are on or are soon to be moved on to Universal Credit so they are able to work out the best solution for those who are struggling so that repossession is a last resort.”


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  1. ArthurHouse02

    “The NHF said landlords should instead assess each tenant based on the property and whether they can afford it, rather than where the money comes from.” – What a tunnel visioned approach to the world.The problem with housing benefit tenants, is from a landlords point of view they cant afford it as it isnt their money. They havent earned it and in many cases they then stop paying their rent.

    Yes many housing benefit tenants are lovely, pay their rent on time and look after the property, but like with many things in life the stigma often has a wider impact. Shelter and the NHF would be better looking at how the system works, how housing benefit is paid, rather than trying to bully landlords, and harass letting agents.

    1. markus

      And, more importantly for huge swathes of the country, Housing Benefit does not cover the rent.

      We need to make clear, on the comment section of every web page the likes of the NHF bo11ocks appears, is that we are treating Housing Benefit tenants no differently too anyone else who couldn’t afford the ****** rent.

  2. bridget

    So on the one hand letting agents are blamed for advising their landlords that it’s not a good idea to accept tenants in universal credit, but on the other it says statistically that 61% of landlords with tenants on universal credit have problems with arrears. I think I would be fairly negligent if my landlord took on the  tenants, then had problems and I said ‘oh yes but the way I knew you would have a 61% chance of having a problem statistically but I couldn’t advise you not to as Shelter would have said it was discriminatory!! ‘  That is probably why the insurance companies won’t allow you take landlord insurance taking benefits into account for affordability as they are allowed to deal with ‘probabilities and risk’ .

  3. smile please

    Let’s face it there is a list as long as my arm why it’s more risky to take a tenant on benefits. And it’s not always their fault.
    Mortgage lenders, universal credit paid weekly, insurance, neighbours and landlords opinions all go into why some agents cannot or will not accept benefits.
    Where the battle lines have really been drawn is when a tenant on Housing Benefit has it stopped or reduced (or just not pay it). And you issue a section 21 the local authority actually advise the tenant to stay put, go to court, wait until the bailiffs turn up.  

    1. markus

      And if the benefit has been paid direct to you and they subsequently decide the tenant wasn’t entitled to it, they claim it back from you and not the tenant. Then you have to go to the landlord that you have paid the rent to and say
      ‘ I knew you would have a 61% chance of having a problem statistically but I couldn’t advise you not to as Shelter would have said it was discriminatory!!, but by the way you now owe me twelve months rent that I’ve paid you in good faith because the council have claimed it back from me.’
      Just how do you think that conversation would go? 

  4. Will

    Perhaps it is time that Government crack down on ROGUE charities who have clearly demonstrated using bullying tactics and guerilla tactics to target a single agent. Yes using discrimination by having thousands of their little supporters contact the said agency under the instructions of Shelter. Maybe companies like B&Q and Nationwide should look more carefully at the charities they choose to support. Perhaps Shelter should be offering cast iron guarantees that ALL tenants pay their rent, in full, on time and never breach the terms of their contracts.

    When I was 17 and a new driver I wanted to insure a high powered sports car – low and behold insurers would not insure me. Was it discrimination as no one of my age could obtain insurance? No they were assessing risk as part of their business model; Landlords are doing the same.  It is called due diligence to use a current buzz word!


  5. frostieclaret87

    Why doesn’t shelter use some of its millions to build houses to rent out to benefit claimants?

    Answer: because it’s easier to bully those that do.

    Just a left wing pressure group and nothing to do with actually doing anything meaningful to solve the problem.

    1. LeeHardy45

      I am really not sure why anybody supports Shelter nowadays; if you really want help homeless people then more people need to take a look at CRISIS.
      They seem to be trying to offer practical solutions to problems as opposed to whatever bugbear Shelter are shouting at this week

  6. JMK

    OK a little tongue in cheek but…

    The Government keep banging on that Universal Credit is helping people get back into work.  It could be argued that not letting to DSS is doing much the same.

    1. Robert May

      Sometimes a thumbs up is not enough!

    2. The_Maluka

      Not tongue in cheek at all, a very valid comment.

    3. LeeHardy45

      It definitely has contributed to this; less good though it has also contributed to a massive increase in households in temporary accommodation and rough sleeping.

  7. jeremy1960

    Prospective tenants must be able to prove an annual income of 30 times the monthly rent and have clean credit history to pass our referencing process. This is clearly stated on our advertising as, if our landlords want rent insurance, that’s the minimum requirement.

  8. Wanderer

    I think there is a common misconception that all HB tenants have their rent paid directly to the landlord but this couldn’t be further from the truth in my area. Only last week one of our tenants who is an alcoholic and is constantly in arrears filled in the form to have their benefits paid direct, they had the backing of the charity that is now helping them, and even with the history of alcoholism and arrears the Council still wouldn’t pay direct. Who are they helping when they do this, it’s haemorrhaging cash and it’s putting landlords and agents off from accepting HB. Absolutely nuts. But of course it’s just put down to landlords being greedy!!!

  9. Gromit

    The Governments idea of Universal Credit is to make it so hard on claimants having to prove they’re seeking work backed by punitive sanctions if they can’t or miss appointments that claimant seek employment because it’s cushier than claiming UC.
    Landlords are collateral damage if a claimant is sanctioned and has to choose between eating or paying rent.

    1. Mothers Ruin

      I blame Cherie Blair and the whole bleeding hearts brigade in general for the fact that they have that choice. If they miss a single payment of rent then the benefits should be paid directly to the landlord. If the claimant cannot afford to feed their children and have nothing else to lose why would they choose to pay their rent? If they sit tight they will be housed eventually. It may be the responsibility of society as a whole to ensure that people eat but should the burden of responsibility for vulnerable people having a roof over their heads fall to landlords. I arranged mortgages for over 20 years and you can’t really say that a lender must lend to landlords who accept unemployed tenants because their lending is risk based. The protestors are now trying to use the old chestnut of ‘treating customers fairly’ but the lenders customer is surely the borrower and not the tenant? We are selling more property for long standing landlords than ever before so it will all come out in the wash but not before it’s too late. It’s not the housing market that’s broken it’s the supply of social housing that’s broken and if they changed tack they could quite easily get landlords on board to do their bit for the greater good and appease the socialists. But then the communists – I mean the socialists hate landlords anyway.

  10. CountryLass

    I have just advised a new landlord to speak to their mortgage lender to see what their restrictions are, and look at whatever insurance policy they decide to take.

    I have said as a general rule, I put DSS/HB considered, as if it is someone who works, but doesn’t quite earn enough to meet the affordability criteria, then getting a top up of housing benefit should not be an issue as far as I am concerned. Someone who is disabled and gets housing benefit as well as their DLA, again not a problem as far as I am concerned. Someone who just doesn’t work however, or has been off work for years with ‘stress’ or something, hmmm, not so keen.


    And both CountryLad and I have had issues with depression and anxiety so I am always a bit suspicious of those who claim stress has kept them off for years.

  11. Hmmmmmm28

    As a Landlord if I wanted to rent to someone on housing benefit there is a low risk way.   Rent direct to a housing association which will guarantee the rent to me and places Tenants on the council waiting list.

    1. MF

      Be careful with that one. I know a landlord who did this and whilst his rent was paid, the thousands of pounds of damage to his property by the tenants was not.  I can’t be sure but I think he said his total loses were £17k.  All in all a very stressful experience for him, which had to run the whole three years of the contract he’s signed.

  12. IWONDER36

    Do any of these buffoons understand how a lettings business actually works?

    We are paid a commission from rent by the landlord for acting in their best interest, that means managing their property and ensuring that they receive their rent ON TIME!

    If we do not collect the rent for 3 month’s while a tenant is waiting to be in payment, or their claim was suspended because their new partner stayed over and they were reported, or the tenant spent the housing element of their UC claim on themselves, we do not get paid either. Our staff still need their wages to pay their rent, our commercial landlords still want their money ON TIME!

    HMRC/VAT don’t wait for us to be in payment!

    It is not discriminatory to expect that someone pays to live in your property, or that your lender also wants paying, or that a lettings business expects to be paid for it’s services!

    If it is, banks are guilty, the government is guilty, insurers are guilty & many more!

    Stop falling over yourselves to help only one element of society.

    We hardworking tax payers are under attack from all sides, without us there will be no benefits!

  13. RadPropertyDude

    I grew up in a small rural village and there were no employers for 10 miles in any direction, and I didn’t drive. Reluctant, I used the support of benefits and even then, agents didn’t want to help. I was lucky, I worked hard and persevered and made sure the agents progressed my paperwork. I can see how good people trying to get on in life are being pushed down because of stats and spreadsheets. Everything is automated and few take the time to look closer at the applicant.

    1. CountryLass

      That’s why I try to avoid the blanket “no HB” tag as there are really good HB tenants out there. I have a Tenant who needed to claim HB when her partner left her with 2 kids. Her rent is paid on time, and the one time it was going to be late as there had been an issue with her account, she called me in a panic, apologising and promising to get it sorted. 2 days after the due date, it got paid. She had borrowed money from a friend to pay it, then paid the friend back when her HB went in. Then I have another Tenant who doesn’t receive benefits who is about to be taken to court for no-payment!

  14. Home Provider

    We only have Shelter’s word, whatever that is worth these days, that thousands of supporters harassed Ludlow Thompson following Greg Beales’s instruction to them in August.
    His letter to Ludlow Thompson on 16 October misrepresented the law.

  15. Beano200062

    Firstly, not stating  ‘no dss’ or similair will just lead to wasting those types of applicants time as we will still prioritize better/working applicants. Secondly If for some insane reason it was deemed illegal to state ‘no dss’, how about changing it to ‘DSS welcome!*’

    *subject to full vetting and applicant having a working homeowner guarantor.

  16. ringi

    These days I just say “It is my policy that I only take a tenant if the credit/reference is good enough to get RGI from

    If Shelter wants me to rent to people on benefits, they have to provide the “home-owning guarantor” that the RGI provider requires.   Or set up their own RGI company.   But I do consider that “people on benefits” with a “home-owning guarantor” to be the best tenants as they tend to remain for a long time. 

  17. qweasdzxc

    Why did Shelter target SpareRoom? Their claim of discrimination is based on single parent families mostly being the mother. The vast majority of SpareRoom’s stock is rooms in HMOs. These will not be suitable for a family to live in.

    Yesterday, a prospective tenant on HB I found through SpareRoom has told me she can’t take the room as the Council will not let her do so – LHA is £359 and the rent is £600 so she would need to find £241 pcm.

  18. HIT MAN

    Maybe landlords should provide properties the same as public sector housing, unfurnished, no carpets, no decoration, no cookers, dated heating etc, for benefit claimants, don’t see councils having many rent arrear problems and they don’t end up on the rogue landlords list, oh and does the fee ban apply to them as Councils now advertising on RM.



  19. Woodentop

    Who’s property is it? Who has the right to say who rents their property? This is the biggest scandal if politicians are left to run your lives, when they say we line in a democracy and you have freedom of choice.

    1. CountryLass

      Very true. I own my home, which means I get to decide who comes in, if they can bring their pets, and if they can smoke inside. When I lived in a flat, my parents were told that they could not bring their dog round, as I was always worried he would need to ‘go out’ and we wouldn’t be able to get him outside fast enough. This led to my family thinking I didn’t like the dog.

  20. Quags

    Maybe Shelter should not pay themselves so much and dish out some of that money to the genuine people that need it.

    As mentioned above, it’s criminal for a government or body to dictate who you let your home to.

    I don’t know of any agents that have a policy of not accepting DSS/benefit tenants.  Their client may have instructed them not to, but not the agent.


    It’s a competitive market out there and very much (in our area at least) a landlords market.  Why would they let to a tenant with a higher risk when another five other potential tenants are in better positions?


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