Zoopla to ban all ‘No DSS’ property advertising from its sites

Zoopla is to ban the phrase ‘No DSS’ from its sites.

Agents will be barred from using it in listings by a change in terms and conditions.

Zoopla will also remove any ‘No DSS’ references in listings, and remove the ‘No DSS’ fields in its own cloud-based software products.

The move follows a move earlier this month when the Government called for an immediate change. (See link below to EYE report of March 4.)

Housing minister Heather Wheeler said she would be meeting with industry stakeholders, and bringing pressure on them for a voluntary outlawing of the practice.

Shelter has been challenging ‘No DSS’ property adverts, including ‘naming and shaming’ agents that it says veto prospective tenants if they are on benefits.

Zoopla said it will have its ban fully in place next month.

Managing director Charlie Bryant said: “We fully support the recommendations of the NLA and the RLA, which oppose blanket bans against tenants in receipt of housing-related benefits, and are pleased to be taking action which clarifies this position.

“All tenants who are looking to rent a property deserve the chance to be fully assessed for their suitability and matched to a home that suits both their and the landlord’s circumstances.

“We proactively sought the views of our largest lettings-focused agents to ensure the above measures were undertaken on a collaborative basis and received significant support in respect of our proposed additional measures.”

 

Crackdown on letting adverts banning ‘tenants on benefits’

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36 Comments

  1. smile please

    All this will do is waste more time for the public and agents.

    When the perspective tenant calls or emails, advised they are in receipt of benefits the agent will be too busy to show the property.

    Like it or not, benefits carry a much higher chance of rent being missed.

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    1. 1TB

      I completely agree.  Common sense go out of the window.

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  2. Jonathan.Welford

    When ever I’ve used Zoopla for lettings. Most of the applicants that came from it were on benefits, instruction leads were from people that had used the Zoopla value tool and had massive inflated expectations for their homes (even more than usual), it created a lot more work and in the end we flushed zoopla.

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  3. Countrybumpkin

    There’s the tail wagging the dog again. The portals dictating how we run our businesses for us. What happened to CPR and wasting thes people’s travel expenses when they will not be accepted by our clients anyway? I guess zooplankton will pick up that tab.
    move away from zooplankton before you get protesters with placards at your door. Ps spellcheck picked up this new name for zoopla – rather like it !

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    1. 1TB

      It’s not the portals forcing this, but govenment.
      http://www.propertyindustryeye.com/string-of-top-agents-warned-they-could-be-breaking-discrimination-law-as-branches-ban-benefits-tenants/

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  4. Wanderer

    If adverts can’t state ‘no housing benefit’ then will there be a ban on asking an applicant where their money is coming from before we book viewings or start referencing? One without the other seems to be a pointless exercise to me ….

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    1. rsvstu97

      Its about being seen to be fair rather than being fair.

      Government, Shelter et al all know the real issue is a lack of housing.

      You can’t import millions of EU and illegal immigrants without causing a shortage of housing, doctors, schools, hospitals…..

      Government policies have failed the UK for 20 years in an unprecedented way. Look at Brexit.

      We need a modern day Guy Faulkes to do the job properly.

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  5. JamesB

    What a stupid move do they think it will house one more applicant ?  No.   What it will do is waste their time as they will still get declined !
    on a separate note they are now firmly bottom out the big three sites on activity !

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  6. Will2

    “Housing minister Heather Wheeler said she would be meeting with industry stakeholders” and then ignore their input! There are so many clowns around in Government, so called faux housing charities (that house no one), politicans etc who seem to think we should provide free everything, not reference and just release our hard earnt investments to anyone who fancies it without assessing the risks BECAUSE the Government have failed, the councils have asset stripped council housing whilst they INCITE contempt of court by insisting tenants wait for the bailif rather than leave when instructed to leave by a court order. Do these fools really believe all landlords and agents are so stupid? Clearly they do!

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  7. jeremy1960

    “Landlord will choose based on affordability, prospective tenants must be able to prove clean credit and an annual  salary of at least 30 times the monthly rent before viewings can be arranged”. With the upcoming fee ban we need to work smarter and stop running around after the, so many, applicants who waste our time.

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  8. Woodhen

    If they want to start policing the industry why don’t they go the whole hog and check their agents and landlords are registered/regulated along with having the relevant safety certificates in place. That would protect millions of tenants rather than a handful on Universal Credit. What next.. they be able to walk into BMW and demand that they need a lease car!!!

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    1. jeremy1960

      Woodhen your last comment made me chuckle as it is indeed possible for someone on benefits to walk into a dealership and demand a BMW on lease via motability – originally introduced to fund accessible vehicles such as the 3 wheeler cars similar to the Reliant Robin but now apparently available to all!

      https://www.motability.co.uk/about-the-scheme/who-can-join/

      https://www.arnoldclark.com/new-cars/motability/bmw

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  9. Robert May

    As lay-offs from agencies increase due to these uncertain times,  some of the people who sneered and looked down their noses at  benefits tenants and branded them all feckless,  lazy, alcoholics will find themselves on benefits and will face the challenges they had been happy to dish out.

     

    It is time agency  understood itself and how circumstances change. This market will give a lot of those very confident people  a life lesson that will make them more understanding, compassionate and empathetic of benefit assisted tenants

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    1. smile please

      It’s not the looking down of tenants that’s the issue Robert.

      It’s the mad benefits system we have. You have vunrable members of the public with no concept of money being paid universal credit which can change at a moment’s notice and expected to be able to budget with a lump sum.

      As a letting agent or landlord, why would I want that risk when the next tenant is employed?

       

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      1. Robert May

        Universal credit ought to be giving tenants the dignity of paying their bills just like everyone else  however the government is using  UC to force people into employment whether or not employment is an option.
         
        We have a hapless governement and vindictive civil service.

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    2. Will2

      Robert,  I do, to a, degree agree with you. I have a disabled step son and if he had to rely on housing benefit to pay rent would have been is so much difficulty because the Benefits department decline his application at EVERY RENEWAL of his disability payments and it takes me 6-9 months to take the case to Tribunal (been about 6 or 7 appeals and won every time) but in the interim his benefit stops or is reduced until its sorted. This causes immeasureable stress and depression to him. There is something corrupt about the way the system or people operating the system work. The worst for him is he looses use of his car in these interim periods. THIS is why landlords do not want the trouble of irregular rent payments/rent arrears.  I stopped being interested in Benefit tenants when I realised how corrupt councils are by advising tenants to ignore court orders inciting contempt of court. The last time one of my tenants sought benefits I refused to accept payment from the Council as I feared use of Claw Back.  So I do see this from both sides but I feel the need to  control my risks as each time things go wrong it costs thousands of pounds – I do not need to tell you that as I am sure you or your clients would have experienced this.  What needs changing are the professional standards of Government and Councils rather than the ongoing hostility to the PRS. Smart *rsed charities do not house people they have just reduced supply which harms tenants – a sly con. Politicians play to all of this as its good for votes the same way Thatcher purchased votes by the introduction of right to buy.  I do feel sorry for those on benefits but I am not a charity and I feel under attack from the clowns in power for providing accommodation to those who either want to rent or need to.

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    3. Woodentop

      more understanding, compassionate and empathetic of benefit assisted tenants

       

      You are preaching to an industry that knows this only too well. It is the landlords that do not want the hassle and take the risk, often  a massive and very costly risk. DSS is plagued with the tenants from hell, regrettably good ones are caught up in the fiasco and all that will happen, it will go underground.

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    4. natural_selection

      I don’t normally disagree with your comments Robert, in fact you’re normally the most insightful commenter, but I find it a contradiction that you imply agents should expose themselves and their landlords to more risk during ‘uncertain’ times. This is misplaced virtue and counterproductive for all involved.
       
      You’re right that it’s completely unfair to characterise them all as feckless, the problem is with the system, not individual benefit tenants, and this appears to be the angle most of the comments are coming from.
       
      That said, I work in an area of the industry that allows me to see clear statistical evidence that tenants on benefits are a higher risk, yes the reasons for this are open for debate, but agents and landlords should always have the right to state their preferred tenant, provided it’s within the law.

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      1. Robert May

        There is a subtlety in that post a lot including the chairman  of the inquiry in the PRS  (Clive Betts M.P.) do not understand.

        I am 100% not advocating landlords or their agents are disadvantaged by Universal Credit, HB or LHA, what I am suggesting is  investors, landlords and agents understand what my  helicopter view of the industry has taught me in 25 years of  looking after the accounting side of BTL/PRS.

        40% of benefits assisted tenants which  includes pensioners are of no more risk to landlords or agents than any other tenant and in many cases less of a risk.

        The virtue isn’t misplaced, it is a commercial- social view that will more efficiently deliver a solution in a sector agents steer clear of and which suffers wastefulness when operated by a not for profit privatised housing department/ association.   Rummage4 is my coffee shop project that will eventually and hopefully lead me on to being able to deliver a sector solution, investment yields and profits being returned to do more good.

         

        I would like to  speak to you as  your domain knowledge  an balance is a vital element of what I am building.  Ros is happy to forward on an email if you would like to talk more.

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  10. Eyereaderturnedposter12

    The simple fact is…it is the LANDLORD who holds the right to accept or decline an applicant, not the agent.

    Therefore, “banning” the use of advertising terms such as “no DSS/Housing Benefit” is an utter waste of  everyone’s time and serves only to appease leftist lobbying groups.

    Conversely, it may also have the negative effect of giving false hope to an applicant whom is in receipt of housing benefit, when in reality a large majority of Landlords will be reluctant to accept them in any case…

     

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  11. SarahP29

    I agree that agents should not be blanket banning DSS tenants from all properties, we don’t do this and in my opinion, it’s not the agents place to do this, it’s the Landlord’s decision as to what tenant they accept for their property. However, when a specific landlord either will not accept housing benefit, or has a condition in their lease or mortgage that prevents them from doing so, what are we supposed to do but specify this in the advert in the same way as any other condition of the rental? All that will happen is the tenant now has to make a pointless enquiry, then we have to deal with it and tell them they are not eligible, what a complete waste of everyone’s time!

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    1. Woodentop

      This rasies the dilema of wasting a prospective tenants and the agents time, who the agent knows fully well the landlord will not accept.
       
      The Propertry Ombudsman Code of Practice makes it clear: An agent must always work in the best interest of the client, that is to say the person who is paying for the letting agency services.

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  12. David M

    Under the CPR regulations, we must provide the prospective Tenant with enough information so they can decide if a property is suitable for their requirements or not. This should be as early in the process as possible.  The decision by any Portals to restrict the information we can supply to a prospective Tenant could mean that agents breach these CPR rules.  e.g. If there is a restriction placed within the mortgage which does not allow the Landlord to rent to Tenants in receipt of benefits then Agents must inform all potential Tenants before a viewing takes place.

    I would love to know if Zoopla, or any other portal, are going to indemnify the agents against such fines?

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    1. Countrybumpkin

      exactly what I said above. Zoopla controlling our CPR obligations. They can footthe bill.

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  13. Woodentop

    Political clap trap, nuts, unworkable. It will go underground. How does the saying go … once bitten twice shy. Yes there are good DSS, we have many on our books but I also have many more landlords have been well and truly burnt by DSS and the Benefits payment system. Universal credit is a farce in implementation and the draconian approach to DSS clawbacks from the landlord who provided a service and not the tenant, is scandalous.  
     
    I will stop advertising DSS for the most ardent landlord, who has the final say if they want to have them as a tenant. As to Zoopla taking a stand …. big mistake, it is not for them to dictate.
     
    It is time that tenants are held liable under criminal law for breaches of a tenancy agreement. That would go a long way to reforming a very broken system.

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    1. Eyereaderturnedposter12

      ”It is time that tenants are held liable under criminal law for breaches of a tenancy agreement. That would go a long way to reforming a very broken system.”

      Absolutely…but that’s one hell of a large chunk of votes to lose at the next General Election!

      On a serious note, a collaborative Agency platform primarily for London Agents has a (sometimes) useful ‘chat/forum’ where it is possible to ask other agents about a particular applicant/Tenant, and whether they have any knowledge of/history with a particular applicant. I would love to see a nationally accessible Rogue Tenant database  (with full verification processes in place)…I suggest that if the Govt. brought this into being, Tenants would be considerably better behaved (conscious of the possible negative effects of being ‘blacklisted’, Landlords would be more confident in housing applicants/Tenants irrespective of DSS/HB and frankly, everyone would be a little better off).

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      1. Woodentop

        It would also confirm how many tenants local authorities evict every month!

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        1. Eyereaderturnedposter12

          I have many opinions regarding Local Authorities (most of them are far from complimentary), however my primary gripe is that they, on the one the hand advise non-paying Tenants to ‘sit-tight’ (after all, you’ve got around 4-5 months rent free before anyone can evict you, so why would you make any effort to pay off arrears?!)…

          Then on the other hand, approach us Agents (and sometimes Landlords directly) asking if we’ll house people due to their limited social housing stock…an absolute disgrace

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  14. WiltsAgent

    I think it is entirely right that there is a ban on ‘No DSS’. Two of my part-time staff receive benefits due to being abandoned by feckless partners after the arrival of a child. They are both perfect tenants and yet have always been given the run around when renting.

    Equally, if a prospective tenant on benefits rolls into my office reeking of booze or pot then we will not be taking their application further.

    The ‘No DSS’ advert is dead in the water and I suggest we as an industry accept it with good grace and move on. It does not stop an agent acting in the landlord’s best interest and selecting the right tenant.

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  15. MrsF

    Why is there such upset over this? A field will be removed from software and a particular phrase will no longer be allowed. It is hardly dictating how you run your business or how you conduct business and purely following on from guidance given.
     
    It is stopping the discrimination against those who are in receipt of such benefits. Yes I understand that the majority of tenants on benefits are in arrears etc but you cannot tar the whole category with the same brush.
     
    You can phrase a different way such as “means tested” for want of a better word, as long as you act in the landlords best interest, you will find the best tenant. No point getting upset with Z over it.
     
    What if you have a propective tenant who is in full time employment, good wage but has bad credit history? Will they be treated the same as DSS?
     
    Its about being seen to be fair.

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    1. Woodentop

      The point being missed is, DSS weeds out the time wasting for agents and landlords (who have the final say) that is not welcome in a particular property. They couold be the best DSS tenant in the world but as their income is not stable or guaranteed and it is the risk for the landlord, not forgeting in can be a mortgage lenders stipulation.
       
      It will just go underground. The landlord cannot be forced to take any tenant, it is their assest, their final liability and their final say.
       
      “NO DSS” is nothing more than a political football and banning isn’t going to change anything? The argument is those landlords not wanting DSS benefit tenants and many have very valid reasons. “NO DSS” isn’t adverised for those landlords that will take them!!!

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  16. Thomas Flowers

    Zoopla will also remove any ‘No DSS’ references in listings, and remove the ‘No DSS’ fields in its own cloud-based software products.

    How about now including DSS accepted in listings and their cloud-based software if the landlord is willing to consider?

    Would that help save everyone time, effort and money?

    Anyone actually asked DSS claimants whether they wish landlords to be transparent about their tenant criteria?

    What next?

    How about banning search price parameters because it discriminates against those who cannot afford the higher priced properties?

    What about MP’s huge salaries, EXPENSES and gold plated pensions are these elitist and unfair?

    The world we all live in is not, and shall never be fair?

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  17. IWONDER36

    Again Britain leans toward promoting a life on benefits were everything is available to you and hard work and self sacrifice is not promoted as a better way of securing yours and your family’s future. Instead those that do work hard are expected to pick up the bill but keep shtum about it! We accept benefit tenants, many of whom we have no issue with, but there are questions to be asked; * What type of benefits are you in receipt of? * How long have you been claiming those benefits? * Can you afford the property and related costings without struggling? * Are your circumstances likely to change? * Have you ever been found guilty of benefit fraud? *Have you had rent arrears? * You understand that the property is for you and those named as being permitted to live there, and we will be carrying out inspections? Too many supposedly poor tenants are actually better off than those of us who work hard and pay our taxes, which in turn pay those benefits. Newsflash, there are many people in every town living on housing benefit and all the perks that go with it, leaving them spare time to have a part time cash in hand job while their partner (obviously not living with them) works full time, or deals in items arriving through docks which ironically manage to find their way through, Brexit or Bremain, unlike diabetes medicines we’re told! The same people that have a nice German car, regular Botox, lip fillers and Moncler jackets for the little ones. It’s an absolute farce that those who try to provide employment while still managing family life by getting their kids to school on time before rushing off to work leaving the chilled out mum’s in pyjamas to stand and chat for an hour, constantly have the legs kicked from under them while government just gives them more and more. Is it any wonder that a system of free handouts exists given that parliament sees nothing wrong with freebies among its own rank and file? Benefits should be there for the sick, the disabled, the elderly, those that have served our country and now sleep on the streets, and as a short term stop gap to help you back into employment. You should have also paid in to get out, even if that’s by way of volunteering your services to help the community you live in. Too many genuine benefit tenant’s are marred because of the people described above, and there is too many of them!    

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  18. DarrelKwong43

    DSS, no longer exists, so they need to get that right first

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  19. Russell Williams

    Interesting story.

    One side of this is that people on benefits, who are currently put off contacting agents who state ‘no DSS’ (or similar) on their Zoopla property ads, will now not be put off (obviously).  Thus Zoopla will be delivering more enquiries, which they will no doubt crow about.  The fact that all of these extra enquiries will be wasting the time of both the applicant and the agent is by the by.  So, is this a cunning way of Zoopla generating higher enquiry numbers?

    The other side of the story is that there are bad benefits tenants and there are good benefits tenants.  Sadly, the bad tenants tend to give a bad name to the whole sector.

    You would think that agents would have some understanding of this, seeing as how it’s a sort of reflection of the lettings industry – in so much that lettings agents, overall, have a very bad reputation with the public (if you don’t agree, you’re either very lucky or have your head buried deeply in the sand), which is primarily a result of a small subset of agents.

     

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  20. 1TB

    So, if someone is DSS, how do they find a rental which will accept this?
    Surely this should go the opposite way, and give these individuals the option to see DSS listings.  Saving them time and stress, similar with agents.
    These government decisions are just political spin, and avoid the reality of peoples lives.  And will have the opposite effect, making it even more challenging to DSS to some somewhere to live.

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