As a landlord, can you refuse tenants that are in receipt of housing benefit?

As a landlord, can you refuse tenants that are in receipt of housing benefit?

As landlords turn to social media sites in attempts to rent their properties to tenants, there is a lot of discussion on whether they can advertise the property as ‘no DSS’ or ‘not suitable for those in receipt of benefit.’ But, is this legal?

What does no DSS mean?

For many years, the so called ‘no DSS’ policies have stopped thousands of potential tenants renting homes because they are in receipt of housing benefit. The term is often used in adverts searching for new tenants, in person conversations and as a reason to reject tenants. 

Is it illegal to refuse to rent your property to someone on benefits?

At the moment, there is not a specific law that states that a private landlord cannot refuse a property to a tenant that is in receipt of claiming benefits. But, on 1 July 2020, a judge ruled that “rejecting tenancy applications because the applicant is in receipt of housing benefit was unlawfully discriminating on the grounds of sex and disability”. She added that this was contrary to the Equality Act 2010 it can be considered unlawful on the grounds of it sounding discriminatory. It can be classed as indirect discrimination, which on certain grounds can be unlawful unless the landlord can provide reasonable justification. 

Some landlords feel that they do have a valid reason for refusing to rent to tenants that receive benefits, as sometimes administrative delays with processing claims which come from benefits payments, can lead to a built up of rent arrears. It can also cause problems for buy to let mortgages, where mortgage lenders impose conditions on the mortgage forbidding a landlord from renting their property to a tenant that is in receipt of benefits. 

Looking for advice?

Have you been affected by indirect in-discrimination? You may wish to speak to one of our lawyers here at CP Law Associates, to see if you have a case. We offer a free initial consultation and we have payment plans available.

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