Rental adverts which specify ‘no DSS’ tenants could be outlawed, minister says

Rental property advertisements which discriminate against people who rely on housing benefit could be outlawed under plans being considered by the Government.

Housing Minister Heather Wheeler announced plans to look at “no DSS” (Department for Social Security) or “no housing benefit” adverts as part of an effort to create a fairer housing market.

She warned that if the sector was unwilling to take action then the Government would “explore all options to remove this practice”.

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government said figures suggest about half of landlords say they would not be willing to let a property to tenants on housing benefit.

About 889,000 households receive housing benefit to help pay their rent, out of about 4.5 million households living in private rental accommodation.

Ms Wheeler, who also confirmed that £19.5 million would be provided to local authorities to help people access a home in the private rented sector, said: “I want everyone to have the security, dignity and opportunities they need to build a better life – at the heart of which is ensuring everyone can find a safe and secure home to call their own.

Heather Wheeler
Housing Minister Heather Wheeler said she would be meeting key stakeholders to tackle ‘no DSS’ advertisements (Chris McAndrew/UK Parliament)

“This funding will make a huge difference in opening up the private rented sector to people who need it and give them the chance to rebuild their lives.

“I will also be meeting key stakeholders to tackle ‘no DSS’ advertisements. If the sector is unwilling to take action, the Government will then explore all options to remove this practice.”

Ministers are set to meet landlord associations, tenant groups and property websites to try to clamp down on blanket exclusions in the hope of ruling out their use entirely.

A recent study suggested that at least one in 10 rental properties in England were discriminating against people who rely on housing benefit.

Analysis of about 86,000 letting agent adverts on property website Zoopla by the National Housing Federation and charity Shelter found that 8,710 of the postings said “no DSS” or “no housing benefit”.

Department for Work and Pensions Minister Justin Tomlinson said: “Everyone should have the same opportunity when looking for a home, regardless of whether they are in receipt of benefits.

“With Universal Credit, payments can be paid directly to the landlord, and we continue to listen to feedback and work with landlords to improve the system.”

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