Portals urge agents to avoid bans of benefit tenants

Shelter and the National Housing Federation have been researching advertising that rules out anyone in receipt of housing benefit or universal credit (UC). Now Rightmove and Zoopla have emailed their customers to recommend they follow National Landlords Association (NLA) guidance on this matter.

NLA guidance is to take each tenant on a case-by-case basis, rather than say ‘no DSS’ on the advertisement. If a housing benefit or UC tenant applies for a property, follow the same process you would for any other tenant.

Each tenant has an individual set of circumstances. While some may rely on benefits completely, others may require a small amount to top up their earnings. Currently there is no case law to say that blanket bans is indirect discrimination, however it can appear unfair and is certainly poor practice. We recognise that there are many reasons why tenants in receipt of housing benefit or universal credit may cause landlords some concern as cuts to welfare and problems with the universal credit system are making it more and more difficult for anyone in receipt of housing support to pay their rent on time and sustain long term tenancies. Landlords must be able to decide whether to accept a particular application to rent a property based on an individual’s circumstances, including their benefits status, but each case should be reviewed individually. .

Chris Norris, Director of Policy and Practice at the NLA

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