Shelter now targets seven agents by name as it urges supporters to back new petition

Shelter has launched a petition naming seven specific agents – Bridgfords, Dexters, Fox & Sons, haart, Hunters, Ludlow Thompson and Your Move – for allegedly discriminating against tenants on benefits.

But the agents have hit back strongly, explaining their position.

In its latest push, Shelter is asking its supporters to sign the petition in an attempt to stop the alleged discrimination.

Shelter claims in an email: “Some of the biggest letting agents in the country are actively discriminating against private renters.

“One in three renters receiving housing benefit are locked out of homes they could otherwise afford, pushing them closer to homelessness this Christmas.

“But because of the campaigning by thousands of our supporters like you, we were able to get Ludlow Thompson – the worst offender – to take steps to end discrimination of renters on housing benefit.

“However, Ludlow isn’t the only culprit.

“Housing benefit discrimination is widespread across the industry.”

Shelter says: “If enough of us stand up for what’s right by telling these agents that they can’t get away with discrimination any more, they will have to change their behaviour.

“It will also send a signal to other agents that discrimination is unacceptable.”

By yesterday evening, some 9,000 people had signed the petition.

London firm ludlowthompson has told EYE that it has not made any changes to its policy, as it does not discriminate against tenants on benefits.

A spokesperson for Hunters said it was taken aback and appalled, having made its position very clear to Shelter.

The spokesperson said: “We do not have a company policy not to let property to tenants receiving housing benefits.”

In a letter to Shelter seen by EYE, Hunters CEO Glynis Frew says: “At Hunters we do not discriminate against benefit tenants, but neither can we ignore any banks that insist, as a condition of the buy-to-let loan, that the landlord must not let to tenants on benefits. This issue is well reported.

“Attempts to circumvent a bank and its loan conditions could have extremely serious consequences for tenant and landlord alike.”

Jeff Doble, who heads up Dexters, has also been robust in his response to Shelter.

He said: “Dexters has no policy of avoiding such tenants and nor do we place adverts restricting applicants.”

However, he went on to explain: “You ask in your letter that we stop advising landlords not to let to tenants claiming housing benefit and that we train our staff accordingly.

“Unfortunately that does not necessarily represent good advice to landlords.

“Where there are tenants with guarantees on the rent, then it would be against our best practice and indeed poor advice, to recommend many housing benefit tenants.

“The reason for this is that statistically there is significantly more risk that tenants will stop paying the rent for a multitude of reasons but principally because they receive the housing benefit money and often run into financial difficulties or changes in circumstances.

“Compounding this problem is the fact that local authorities routinely advise tenants who run into financial problems, to deliberately cease paying rent and wait to be evicted, in order that they qualify for emergency housing by the local authority.

“These situations can take many months to resolve and a great deal of cost. A landlord can lose up to six months’ rent, and for landlords who now have greater costs and indeed many who have significant borrowing costs, this could be very damaging for them financially.

“As such, unless a landlord has already priced this into their business model, it’s most unlikely that a landlord could be recommended to take housing benefit tenants over and above another tenant unless there were comparable guarantees behind the tenant to pay the rent.

“The only solutions to this problem are to pay rents directly to the landlord and also to cease local authorities advising tenants to withhold rent and wait to be evicted.”

The link to the Shelter petition is below. Beneath that is the request to supporters asking them to back it.

Shelter 30.10.18


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  1. Will

    Perhaps these targeted agents should get together and issue against Shelter for defamation.

  2. JonnyBanana43

    I’m sick of these Lefties…. outrageous.

  3. undercover agent

    In the old old days you could give a DSS tenant the benefit of the doubt, and just evict them if it went wrong. After the “do-gooders” like shelter got involved giving more “rights” to tenants, no one wants to give the poorest tenants a chance. If they bring in 3 year AST’s and no section 21 it will only get worse. Rents will have to rise as some landlords leave the industry. Again the poorest tenants are the hardest hit by Shelters policies.

    Shelter don’t like poor tenants, they hate rich landlords, and that’s a big difference.

  4. The_Maluka

    I am more than happy to let to DWP tenants provided that the entire rent (not just the Local Housing Allowance) is paid direct to me from the outset and in perpetuity, there is a home owning guarantor in place, a full deposit and one months rent in advance is paid by the tenants from their savings.

    Is that discrimination?  I would expect no less from a wage earner.

    1. Will

      How do you protect against claw back?

      1. DarrelKwong43

        From my experience, claw back was only implemented by the local council where a tenant had vacated earlier than your knowledge, and you still received HB direct.

        If the tenant was acting fraudulently ie working and not telling HB, then clawback was not requested (unless you were somehow party to that fraud).

        1. MF

          Not always so.  A long time ago (more than 20 years), we had a housing benefit tenant leave after two or three years of tenancy.  There were no arrears or problems.  Several months later, the local council wrote to us to explain that they had paid the last year of housing benefit to us ‘in error’ and wanted it all back.  Approximately £6000.  It took many months of correspondence to get them to back off.  It was the last time we ever accepted direct payments.

        2. qweasdzxc

          If I was a HB tenant who was being asked to repay the HB that had been paid direct to the landlord, I would be asking to see the notification sent by the landlord to the council or secretary of state in accordance with paragraph 101(1)b of the Housing Benefit Regulations 2006. It is illegal for the council to claim money back from anyone other than the landlord if this condition has not been met.


          1. Deltic2130

            Quite right qweasdzxc. Councils try it on with landlords and agents in the hope they don’t know the law, but you should always write back with S.101 of the HB regs. It tends to shut them up!

            1. Peter Green

              Agreed. Over the years we have had a number of local authorities try to “clawback” HB payments, for alleged breaches by tenants that we had not been aware of. Once we had investigated the “law” pertaining to “clawback”, we politely (but firmly) informed the LA’s that they were barking up the wrong tree. Nothing further was heard !

  5. JMK

    “One in three renters receiving housing benefit are locked out of homes they could otherwise afford, pushing them closer to homelessness this Christmas”

    Are Shelter dumb???  If these HB tenants get the house then another is locked out!  Shelter insist on attacking the wrong people – landlords and agents, and thus result in many properties leaving the rental sector, perhaps the fictitious one we’re discussing.  Then both tenants lose out!!

    Shelter don’t have any interest whatsoever in actually helping people keep a roof over their heads, unless of course we’re talking about the roofs over the six Director’s heads.

  6. WiltsAgent

    Mob rule from an organisation funded by the taxpayer, that’s you and me. You couldn’t make it up.

  7. PossessionFriendUK39

    Well said by Jeff ( and JMK )  much of what Shelter campaigns for actually ends up hurting tenants.

    Its always the minority cases that Shelter seem to pick – highlight.

    Landlords love the majority of tenants, for god sake, their ‘OUR’ customers !

    83% ( according to EHS ) seem to ‘love’ us too, so why are Shelter ‘stirring with a big wooden spoon’ – unless its to ensure continuation of grossly misplaced funding.

    Its a pity those funding Shelter didn’t contribute to other organisations that actually help the homeless.

  8. RosBeck73

    Well done Jeff Doble, for an excellent and honest response. I agree that the agents should band together and come up with a strategy against Shelter’s underhand and destructive tactics in their senseless anti-private landlord and anti-letting agents campaign.

  9. Dom_P

    Is it worth (and I don’t have the technical knowledge to do this) starting a petition for the government to look into their activity?

    I’m sure that with the readership of this site and others a link could be circulated and sufficient people sign to force this abhorrent behaviour to be critically analysed given the obvious negative connotations of the action that Shelter are pushing for?

  10. Property Money Tree

    …perhaps Shelter can (backed by its bank) guarantee these high financial risk tenancies it is so keen on seeing.

  11. Harry Albert Lettings Estates

    To be fair, I’d consider it slander… I know for a fact two of those agents mentioned accept housing benefit tenants.


    Shelter are a joke.

    1. CountryLass

      As it’s in writing, wouldnt it be libel as well?

  12. sladooo

    good response from Doble, all valid points from my experience also.

    someone needs to investigate how many of the top brass at shelter have second homes/investments and question how many of those are let to benefits tenants.

    the ceo is on £130,000 a year, id be surprised if she doesn’t have investment props and id be surprised if she rents to benefits.


    just an idea to call them out on their hypocrisy

    1. GeorgeHammond78

      sladooo, let’s hope those properties are let to people not paying their rent.

      Your move and Hunters must have deep enough pockets to fund an action against Shitler. If not, if they’d like to crowdfund it, I’d be happy to chip in my ten bobs worth.

    2. JMK

      I would suggest she’s on more than 130k.  The average salary the 6 Directors helped themselves to in the year ending March 2017 was over 127k.  With her being the boss and the figure being historical, I reckon she’d probably closer to 150k

      1. sladooo

        even more reason to suspect she (and the others) all have lovely large houses with empty rooms, while people sleep on the streets. I struggle to imagine people at that end of the income don’t have a small portfolio of properties.


  13. singlelayer

    Shelter are the first target of the new National Landlords Alliance. Just £100 to join…email your pledge to Larry over on P118.

  14. CountryLass

    Maybe Shelter could start by targeting the Government to make sure HB is paid correctly and in a system that works for everyone, and then they could start on the lenders and insurers that restrict housing benefit tenants??

    Rather than the Agent who has NO say in it?

  15. Rayb92

    Shelter are a disgrace

    reading those agents responses they are clearly making the problem worse for their ‘clients’ , some landlords would not be aware of those exposures but are now

    those agents are not going to just roll over clearly but will focus the minds of more agents on this exposure


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