Labour hits out at 'outright discrimination' after investigation uncovers scale of home rental ads banning benefit claimants

Posted On: 
8th November 2018

Labour has lashed out at “outright discrimination” in the rental property market after a shocking investigation found benefit claimants are banned from 10% of homes advertised online.

Rental There are more than 1.4 million people in England who claim benefits and rely on the private rental property market for housing
Credit: 
PA Images

Housing campaigners found thousands of adverts on property site Zoopla which said ‘no DSS’ - meaning no welfare claimants - or ‘no housing benefit’.

The National Housing Federation and Shelter argue the practice is illegal, after a court case in February this year found an agency had flouted equality laws in rejecting a woman on benefits.

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In the biggest probe of its type so far, the two groups analysed 86,000 letting agent adverts on Zoopla and found that 8,710 said benefit claimants were disqualified - or one in 10.

Labour argued the Government had exacerbated the situation by cutting welfare and botching the rollout of the new Universal Credit system

Shadow Housing Secretary John Healey told PoliticsHome: “This is outright discrimination against low income households.

“Everyone deserves a decent home, including the nearly one million working families who get housing benefit to help bridge the gap between low wages and high rents.

“This discrimination has been made worse as a direct result of decisions made by Conservative ministers, including deep cuts to housing benefit, the chaotic roll-out of universal credit and a lack of action to control costs for private renters.”

Kate Henderson, chief executive of the National Housing Federation, said the research proved “blatant discrimination against people on housing benefit is widespread”.

She said the adverts were “hardly any different” to the racist and discriminatory ‘No Irish, No Blacks, No Dogs’ notices from landlords in the 50s and 60s.

Shelter chief executive Polly Neate said ‘no DSS’ adverts were “outdated, offensive and causing misery for thousands”.

The groups argue the online posts are the “tip of the iceberg”. They said some ads said ‘professionals only’, while previous research found many housing benefit tenants were rejected by agents over the phone.

'NO BLANKET BANS'

A spokesperson for Zoopla said: "Zoopla supports the recommendations of the National Landlords Association (NLA) and the Residents Landlords Association (RLA), which have advocated that landlords do not impose blanket bans against tenants on benefits.

"Zoopla is aware of a small number of rental listings on its websites that fit into this category and Zoopla will write to all of its member agents to recommend that they follow the NLA and RLA guidance."

Other online property sites like RightMove, SpareRoom and OpenRent have also run ‘no-DSS’ adverts.

In February, single mother Rosie Keogh won compensation from an agent after she argued its blanket bans on benefit claimants indirectly discriminated against women, especially single women.

There are now more than 1.4 million people in England who claim benefits and rely on the private rental property market for housing.