Family holding a roof over their heads

No DSS! Closing the door on tenant discrimination.

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.

removing no dss to provide family holding a roof over their heads
Tenants, rest assured, if you can prove income and affordability, our landlords will have an open-door policy.

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.

How?

  • 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.”

Checks

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.

For complete peace of mind on non-payment of rent concerns we would recommend our Rent guarantee or Rent on Time packages which offer guaranteed rent and legal protection should a tenant fail to pay.

Case studies

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?’.

About Jonathan Daines

After having worked as a high street letting agent for over 5 years, I believed there was a better way of helping landlords find tenants without the unnecessary expenses. And so in 2008, lettingaproperty.com was born and has since let over 8,000 properties across the country. I am very proud of the service levels we offer and to have achieved a 99.3% recommendation rate on reviewcentre.com. If you have any questions about our business, please do let me know. I look forward to hearing from you.

9 Comments

    March 17, 2019 REPLY

    I have been a Landlord for 50 years and have had experience of Housing Benefit – now known as Universal Credit.

    The facts are that if you accept a Tenant on UC the rent will be paid in Arrear – Lunar Monthly; if the Tenants circumstances change or the Tenant does not supply all the information requested by the Council then payments will cease with no explanation given – the Council will say that under Data Protection they will NOT provide any information; they can also withhold payments without giving any reason why. Councils also have a habit of clawing back payments if they think they have paid too much – arrears will then escalate & they Tenant is therefore living in the Property for free. In the PRS the rent is paid Calendar Monthly in advance – we are a business NOT a charity.

    Once rent is not being paid, the Tenant will abuse the Premises resulting in thousands of pounds being required to repair/refurbish the Property.

    Shelter has an agenda to vilify all Landlords and hold them in utter contempt.

    March 16, 2019 REPLY

    Ok My ad will mow read must pass rent insurance guarantee criteria. I am not here to play social services and Shelter are really getting on my wick. I don’t claim benefits and worked and scrimped to be in a position not to. Maybe I was wrong in taking this attitude then some do good and make money out of it organisation will fight for me. If they are not careful landlords will say you house them sell up and live off the proceeds. What will our crazy government do then. Perhaps they can find millions to build the houses to put them in and legislate themselves.

    March 16, 2019 REPLY

    Maybe Shelter should give their ‘ advise’ to banks and building societies and tell them they must not decline anyone on DSS or HB from applying for a loan or mortgage. That would get laughed out of court.

    Buy to Let mortgages often don’t allow landlords to rent to anyone on benefits. Landlords insurance often does not allow tenants on benefits

    Council’s pay HB in arrears. Would you be allowed in a supermarket to do your shopping for 3 weeks and just pay on week 4??

    Universal Credit is pushing Tenants into debt.
    Universal Credit is pushing Landlords into debt

    Council’s and Shelter advise Tenants to stay put until Bailiffs evict them, causing horrendous stress for tenants and landlords.

    Sort the mess of the benefits system out first. Maybe more landlords would be willing to take tenants on benefits.

    And nobody, NOBODY can enforce this. Doesn’t make one iota of difference if it is on an advert or not. It’s still Landlords decision.

    Another ‘ spin’ from the powers that be, who have finally woke up to the fact that private landlords have had enough, and the present system does not work

    March 16, 2019 REPLY

    Totally agree with being based on business decision …
    Hands up If you want to pay my rent and look after my property….. in my humble opinion, those who PAy from their own pocket have more respect for MY houses .. landlords I know who own hundreds of houses rent out at the lower market rates and their houses are very poor standard and attract those who don’t really care… from my eyes only

    March 16, 2019 REPLY

    In addition to what has been said, insurance companies charge an average of 3 times the rate for rent garauntee if your tenant is on benifits, why would a landlord opt to paying more?!

    March 16, 2019 REPLY

    I think this is looking at the problem the wrong way round. A decision by a landlord to rent a property to a prospective tenant is a business decision and would rent first and foremost to the tenant most likely to pay their rent when it’s due, look after the property, and behave in a manner that is hassle freely to the landlord. A tenant on benefits would be looked on more favourably if the rent is guaranteed to be paid on time, and this includes rental increases within reason. There needs to be more protection for the landlord against bad tenants and a more timely manner of getting the issues resolved which currently cost landlords thousands of pounds. Who wants to risk that when a working tenant on a good income with good references is a much safer business option.

      March 16, 2019 REPLY

      Hi Sue, thank you for your comment.

      We offer this level of financial support to landlords with our unique ‘Rent on Time’ plan which eliminates any risk / concern of non-payment of rent.

      Details can be found here: https://www.lettingaproperty.com/rent-on-time.

      In summary:-

      Regardless of whether the tenant is in receipt of benefit or not, we guarantee to pay the landlord’s rent on time every month – there is no waiting period as there would be if you were to go for a rent guarantee insurance policy.

      Each tenant undergoes checks and is assessed on their ability to afford the rent based on their total income however that is made up i.e part time employment with top up etc.

      We manage the rent payment process which can include dealing with councils etc.

      If this is of interest to you or our other readers, please feel free to get in touch with our landlord team on 0333 577 8888 to discuss our plans.

      All the best.
      Jonathan

    March 16, 2019 REPLY

    I’ve always wondered why the council’s don’t make the rental payments as priority to the landlord then pay the recipient the remaining payment then rent would be assured to the landlord

    March 16, 2019 REPLY

    What nonsense. First up, what is the protected category according to the legislation is this discrimination against? There isn’t one. This is usual Shelter propaganda.

    Second, stats show 90% of people on universal credit are in rent arrears. The landlord is basically guaranteed to be behind on rent payments.

    The rates HB rates have also been frozen for years so tenants have less ability to meet general inflation rises.

    If you can get past this, there is also councils clawing back rent due to tenants changing circumstances that landlords don’t know about. Also councils randomly stopping payments and taking months to restart.

    It isn’t discrimination, it is about tenants being able to meet financial commitments in a model that the rest of the PRS operates on. PRS is months rent in advance paid monthly. Housing benefit is month in arrears paid on a lunar month.

    Then if the tenant gets too far behind and the landlord needs to seek possession of their property back, due to the court system being clogged and councils/shelter doing everything possible to frustrate the process, it on average takes 6 months. During that time the tenant stops paying rent and generally trashes the place causing thousands of pounds damage to the property the landlord has to absorb (on top of the thousands of pounds of rent not being paid).

    These are business realities. Maybe Shelter and others should start addressing the underlying causes of the problem, one they directly contribute to, rather than trying to scape goat landlords who have to deal with all the adverse consequences of this.

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