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‘No DSS’ discrimination

  • 13/03/2019
  • Author:Liam.Evans@turn2us.org.uk

Have you ever been rejected by a letting agent?

Estate agent window

If you are trying to rent a property and see ‘No DSS’, it means that the landlord or letting agent won’t rent to someone on Housing Benefit.

DSS stands for the ‘Department for Social Security’, a government department which no longer exists.

How common is it?

This policy is still widespread across the UK.

Recent research suggests that nearly half of letting agents said they had no suitable homes or willing landlords to take on a tenant on Housing Benefit.

On top of this, one in ten letting agents prohibits anyone claiming Housing Benefit from renting one of their properties.

Research from Shelter in 2017 highlights similar figures; 43% of private landlords have an outright ban on letting to claimants of Housing Benefit and 18% prefer not to let to them.

Is this legal?

The legality of this practice is questionable.

Last year, a legal case seemed to indicate that this policy flouted equality laws and was tantamount to discrimination.

However this did not set a legally binding precedent. It only established that the practice could be considered indirect sexual discrimination, as it mainly affects women.

What can be done about it?

The housing charity Shelter have a long standing campaign against this policy. You can sign Shelter's Stop DSS Discrimination petition.

The Work and Pensions Select Committee are looking into the practice and you can tell them about your experiences finding private rental housing while claiming benefits.

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