Shelter keeps up the pressure on letting agents over ‘discriminating against benefits tenants’

Shelter is continuing to keep up the pressure on letting agents over the issue of tenants on benefits.

Last Friday it sent out another email to its supporters, asking for signatures to its petition

The petition specifically names certain agents – Bridgfords, Dexters, Fox & Sons, haart, Hunters, Ludlow Thompson and Your Move – telling them to “stop discriminating against tenants on benefits”.

By the weekend, over 3,500 people had signed the petition. However, Shelter is trying to boost the number to at least 10,000, saying that bugs in the system may have prevented some from signing.

In its latest letter to supporters, Shelter says that its campaign to end “DSS discrimination” began when “thousands of us emailed, tweeted and rang” ludlowthompson “to hold them to account for their discriminatory behavior, and it worked!

“Ludlow finally acknowledged their bad practices and took the first steps to stamping it out.”

The email goes on: “This week, property portals Rightmove and Zoopla issued guidance to letting agents stating that ‘no DSS’ ads shouldn’t be used on their site!”

If Shelter were quoting the story published on EYE, it hasn’t got it right.

Rightmove and Zoopla haven’t said that listings should not stipulate ‘no DSS’. Nor have they even used the term DSS.

Instead, they have said that there should not be blanket bans on tenants in receipt of benefits, and that each case should be considered individually.

A parliamentary briefing paper published in April said that “refusing to let to benefit claimants is unlikely to amount to direct discrimination” because the receipt of benefits is not a protected characteristic under the Equality Act 2010 in the same way that disability and gender are.

However, it could be indirect discrimination.

Shelter 16.11.18


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  1. BenHollis07

    If Shelter feel Housing Benefit tenants are not an increased risk, would they be willing to be guarantor?

  2. Rayb92

    Convenient bugs in system.. or maybe embarrassed at so little support

    if they campaign as hard against the government mess of universal credit they may be actually helping their clients

    or maybe landlord know the RLA facts that 61% are in arrears !

  3. Jrsteeve

    Shut up shelter. Lobby the government for better powers of eviction, the banks to not restrict letting to benefit claimants and councils to reduce ‘licencing’ fees and we’ll talk.

  4. Andyjames

    Maybe Shelter should also question the local authority about their logic in paying the rent to the tenants instead of directly to the landlord? There are so many reasons NOT to accept a tenant on housing benefits and most of them have been created by the government, local authorities and Shelter!

  5. DarrelKwong43

    Well done Shelter. I reckon your campaign, will have housed ZERO extra people who claim some form of benefits.

    So the conversation with an applicant, will now go as follows:

    Applicant: Hello, can I view 1 the High Street

    Agent: Yes, but I need to qualify your affordability

    Ten Minutes later

    Agent: Sadly you do not meet our referencing requirements, so we can not proceed.

    End result, ten minutes of two peoples life, that will be lost on a pointless exercise.


    1. TeamAdvance

      This is exactly what we, as agents keep saying, every applicant is qualified over the phone before we make them an appointment and if they don’t meet the referencing criteria there is no point in continuing and wasting  time and money. Regardless of whether they are working or on benefits all applicants are  treated the same. Shelter obviously do not understand how it works, why would anyone rent a property to someone who cannot afford it!

  6. jeremy1960

    Slightly “off subject “, what frustrates me is when an applicant insists that they are “entitled” to £**** a month! To me that indicates that it’s become a way of life for them and often, despite having paid little or nothing into the system, they feel that they can just take money out of the system!

    My theory, if you haven’t paid in as much as you need to take out, then you need to be doing something to “earn” the balance;  plenty of streets need sweeping and weeding,  plenty of litter needs picking and lots of elderly folk  (who have paid into the system ) who need help!

    1. Rayb92

      Correct !  Sadly in the U.K. these people have the power as they have more votes.. you couldn’t make it up !

  7. David M

    One of the biggest, and most common reasons that “landlords” will not and cannot let to Tenants receiving benefits is a restriction placed on the buy to let mortgage forbidding the property being let to a tenant who is receiving benefits.  I recall research a year or so back stating over 50% of buy to let mortgages had this restriction and it might be beneficial if PIE were to do it’s own research on this case…??

    It might also be worth checking what restictions (if any) Nationwide place on their B2L mortgages as I believe they are one of shelters biggest supporters and would be a bit of an own goal me thinks…. but perhaps Nationwide  dont have this restriction…




    1. JMK

      I’ve checked this out.  Nationwide (or to be specific TMW as it’s their BTL arm) allow HB tenants, as do BMS who also support Shelter.

      However I am so incensed by the BS that Shelter come out with that I have purposely excluded these two companies when looking at deals on two remortgages I am in the process of.

      1. David M

        Thanks JMK – I have had a couple of Nationwide B2L’s years ago and there was defeintly a restriction bank then..but I guess they may have identified the irony.
        That being said I do think it is important that any corporate bodies who support campaigns of harassment (No matter if the intent was for a positive outcome)  should be boycotted as they have the ability to influence what strategies are adopted by the charities they choose to support. 

        1. JMK

          I agree completely.  You can find a list of their corporate sponsors here.  You may care to use other suppliers where relevant…

          1. CountryLass

            I’ve had to keep using B&Q unfortunately as they are the only decent DIY place close to me… I made no secret of my feelings towards Shelter when I spotted one of their advertisements up in branch though! And unfortunately I bank with HSBC…
            I also emailed a coffee company that I was about to purchase some stuff through when I noticed that a donation from each sale went to them. I explained all of the problems with Shelter and that the slogan they were using about ‘ending homelessness’ was complete BS as they don’t in fact help to house anyone!
            I got back an email saying they would pass my concerns on to the people who are in charge of their charity sponsorship, but were sorry to have lost my business. I doubt the £30 will make a difference to them, but it does mean I have had to buy him a cheese advent calendar from Asda.

  8. Eric Walker

    Another issue which is of concern is  where an agent knows beyond doubt that a landlord’s mortgagor expressly prohibits a tenant on benefit or indeed their rent guarantee insurer prohibits it. If the agent doesn’t explain this, then there is a potential breach of CPRs in that the tenant may make a ‘transactional decision’ to travel miles to view a property based upon this omission.

    It’s not we agents who make these rules. We detest discrimination. But do Shelter expect us to place a landlord in breach of their legal obligations and in so doing breach TPOS code of practice to act in our clients best interests. Will Shelter indemnify us against any later PI Insurance claim?

    1. Rayb92

      Shelter have no real interest in this.. they are a self serving bunch of parasites interested in only donations to the extent their campaigns do more harm than good to their ‘clients’ 

  9. JMK

    This faux charity is such a vile and despicable organisation, hoodwinking the public into donations to help fight homelessness, when in fact they are fueling the problem.  I cannot think of an organisation I have ever detested as much.  Not even political parties.

    1. Rayb92

      Self serving parasites is the phrase 

  10. The_Maluka

    It is not just letting to benefit tenants that can lead to ruination for landlords.  I now have to issue section 21’s to all tenants who transfer to Universal Credit – it’s a matter of survival.

    Shelter put your substantial income to good use and act as guarantor for both rent and damage for UC claimants, after all you have stated that UC claimants are low risk.

    If you, Shelter, are not prepared to take the risk then why should a landlord?

    1. JMK

      Better still, why don’t the 6 Directors of Shelter lead the way and each pledge to personally guarantee a DSS family?
      Let’s see if they have the courage of their convictions then.  If they do that then I’ll happily let to benefit claimants.

  11. Will

    I note on the second page of the email from Shelter stating  Housing benefit discrimination across the industry, EVEN WHEN RENTERS ON BENEFITS CAN AFFORD THE RENT”  reads to me that in most circumstances they CAN’T afford the rent.  Moreover, it seems to suggest you should consider taking tenants who are likely to fail to meet their rent. This in turn drives tenants further into debt with  risks of CCJ’s and Bankruptcy.  These circumstances are not good for landlords or tenants. Shelter clearly not concerned for their clients just trying to meet their political ambitions.


    1. jeremy1960

      And, when they can “afford the rent” it’s because you and I are paying for it via our taxes!

  12. Sooty

    A landlord would rightly be prosecuted if they engaged in a hate campaign against a tenant, but Shelter boasts of the ‘success’ of their campaign of harassment against a Letting Agent who had actually done nothing illegal!

  13. Home Provider

    In Kojo’s email Shelter has started to describe discrimination against renters receiving housing benefit as “senseless”.  With the disaster that is Universal Credit becoming universal, discrimination is eminently sensible, to avoid having properties repossessed.  See 
    Shelter is getting desperate in its attempts to deceive.

  14. DASH94

    In reality, all this banging on by Shelter is achieving is to ensure that landlords/agents that are not able/willing to take tenants on benefits are putting systems in place that allow them to continue as they were without running the risk of being accused of discrimination.


  15. IWONDER36

    Throughout this thread I have read the word Shelter no less than 21 (now 22) times.

    They appear to have adopted the “any publicity is good publicity” approach.

    I choose to ignore much of what they say, as someone said, they are self-serving parasites (in my opinion) who would be far more useful if they actually used the vast sums they collect to provide Shelter (Doh 23)!

    It is not for agents to prove why their working practices came about, or for Landlords to provide homes to people without the freedom of choice to decide who lives in them!

    I’d happily crowd fund any agents legal defense against an action brought by Sh****r on the grounds that they are personally discriminatory toward the unemployed, I’d hope that their lender and insurer would also contribute!

    Churhill could sum up most things with a few well-chosen words, to repeat one such phrase in relation to the PRS attacks-

    However beautiful the strategy, you should occasionally look at the results!

    You are making people homeless!

  16. jeremy1960

    We now advertise our properties with an affordability figure. We still get enquiries from people who do not reach affordability ( or simply cannot read?), just had a 7 email conversation with one who refuses to advise how much of income is earned and how much is taxpayer funded! Getting upset because I refuse to organise a viewing!! If you cannot get the story right on day one pal, I cannot recommend you to a landlord as a good prospect!


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