Renters on benefits in Sunderland are still being discriminated against, with landlords banning DSS despite law change

A homeless charity says landlords are discriminating against people on benefits despite a judge ruling that a blanket ban on DSS rental bans was against equality laws.

Saturday, 29th August 2020, 5:53 pm

According to the BBC data unit’s analysis of a snapshot of 9,000 UK properties up to rent on website OpenRent, 76% preferred not to rent to people on benefits.

There were more listings from this snapshot which would accept renters who owned pets rather than people claiming benefits.

In Sunderland, 42% of listings did not accept DSS, according to the BBC’s findings from August 5.

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The charity Shelter say landlords discriminating against tenants because they claim benefits is “outdated, grossly unfair and illegal under the Equalities Act”. Picture by Pixabay

The availability of properties, from rooms in shared houses to entire family homes, change on a weekly basis.

The Echo found of 53 properties currently on OpenRent’s site, 36% of homes would not accept DSS applicants – although this also includes a number of student only properties.

Polly Neate, chief executive of homeless charity Shelter, said: “No DSS’ discrimination is outdated, grossly unfair – and it’s unlawful under the Equality Act, as our recent landmark legal victory confirms. This is because it overwhelmingly prevents women and disabled people, who are more likely to need support paying their rent, from finding a safe home.

"Last month's ruling should be a wake-up call for landlords and letting agents to clean up their act and treat all renters equally.”

A variety of factors could explain why listings would not accepted DSS, including mortgage agreements blocked renting to benefits claimants, higher landlords' insurance premiums and landlords trying to avoid having to pay extra fees for tenants who would fail credit checks and references.

Founder Adam Hyslop says the OpenRent does not ban any group of tenants and has let over 25,000 properties to benefit claimants in the last year.

He said: “When applying for properties on OpenRent, tenants are always given the chance to explain their particular circumstances and suitability for a property - however currently a landlord might literally have a clause in their mortgage agreement that explicitly prohibits them from granting the tenancy.

"We’re committed to solving root causes like these, however in the meantime our customers are overwhelmingly telling us we should not be pretending the problem doesn’t exist.”