Across the UK today, approximately 889,000 tenants in England receive housing benefit to help pay their rent and get by.
And whilst the vast majority of these ‘housing-benefit’ tenants are decent, well-meaning citizens who value, take pride in, and look after their accommodation, those who miss multiple payments, fall into long-term arrears without showing any urgency to re-pay, or vacate a property that’s been damaged under their contract agreement are the ones who sadly have been tarnishing the reputation of others for a very long time.
The knock-on effect, of course, is that landlords across the UK are nervous to hand over the keys to their property.
This default ‘No DSS’ policy, leaves those who do have a genuine need for benefits and are worthy tenants at a dead end with their accommodation choices.
But today, our industry as a whole is beginning to change for the better and to genuinely offer a housing lifeline to help those who have this dark cloud hanging over them for no reason.
This morning, the BBC reported that Zoopla is to help put an end to housing benefit tenant discrimination by prohibiting agents posting ‘No DSS’ ads, a commonly-used acronym of the now defunct Department of Social Security.
Here at lettingaproperty.com, we too are now in full support of this and during the last few months have been working closely with Shelter in a bid to end ‘No DSS’ policies and encourage wide-spread acceptance of those who are claiming benefits.
- We actively discourage landlords to use the term ‘No DSS’ or other phrases that state or imply that properties are not available to tenants in receipt of benefits in advertisements.
- We offer continuous staff training on how to process applications from tenants in receipt of benefits fairly with others
- We seek to further develop and improve guidelines for landlords
Managing director of lettingaproperty.com Jonathan Daines, says:
“No longer can the Private Rented Sector shut the door on tenants just because they receive benefits – we have to be open to hearing their individual circumstances.
“There are some parts of the UK classed as no-go zones for people on housing benefit because agents and landlords are unwilling to deal with them – and in this day and age, it’s just not right.
“We hope that our involvement and support of the ‘No DSS’ movement will go some way towards highlighting the importance of bringing greater equality to the rental market and importantly, helping to stamp out tenant prejudice in any activity which seeks to exclude those receiving benefits.”
Landlords and agents are encouraged to assess each tenant application on a case by case basis. The decision to let to any tenant should be based on evidence of the tenants ability to pay the rent, past landlord references and/or employment reference (if applicable).
We would encourage that before any tenancies are agreed, comprehensive checks are made on every tenant.
Mary Latham, an experienced landlord of more than 40 years recently shared her experiences on renting to tenants in receipt of benefits, read the first of three articles entitled, What do I do if my tenant ends up on benefits?