Zoopla announces overhaul to end ‘no DSS’ wording in rental adverts
Zoopla has announced plans to ditch “no DSS” wording in rental adverts in the coming weeks.
The property portal said it will launch measures to tackle blanket restrictions which apply to renters who receive benefits.
The steps, to be put in place in April, include amending the Zoopla member terms and conditions to specifically prohibit the inclusion of “no DSS” restrictions on the website.
It will also remove the reference from listings uploaded to its website and from search fields in its cloud-based software products.
Zoopla said the measures are in support of the recommendations from the National Landlords Association (NLA) and Residential Landlords Association (RLA).
Earlier this month, 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 previously said figures suggest that about half of landlords say they would not be willing to let a property to tenants on housing benefit.
Around 889,000 households receive housing benefit to help pay their rent, out of about 4.5 million households living in private rental accommodation.
Previous analysis of 86,000 letting agent adverts on Zoopla by the National Housing Federation and charity Shelter found that 8,710 of the postings said “no DSS” or “no housing benefit”.
Charlie Bryant, managing director of Zoopla, said: “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.”
Polly Neate, chief executive at Shelter, said: “It’s fantastic to see Zoopla leading the portal pack by scrapping “no DSS” adverts from its website.
“For far too long, perfectly good tenants have been barred from renting a home simply because they receive housing benefit – but changes like these show the tide is turning and DSS discrimination will not be tolerated.
“If a leading name like Zoopla can play its part in treating customers fairly, on a case-by-case basis, then others can too.”
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.”