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City to ban agents using No DSS adverts and other ‘discriminatory’ tactics

A cross-party motion put to Oxford council calls for selective licensing to be used to stop discrimination against tenants on Universal Credit.

Nigel Lewis

oxford no dss

Oxford council has become the first in the UK to move against landlords and letting agents who discriminate against tenant applicants in receipt of benefits via ‘No DSS’ ads.

In a report published and proposed by a councillor, the cross-party motion accuses some local landlords and letting agents of overt discrimination via ‘No DSS’ messages on websites.

The report also says that ‘covert’ discrimination is involved as well.

“More often, landlords and letting agents covertly discriminate against benefits claimants by using affordability or referencing checks that automatically fail benefit recipients, by systematically favouring non-benefit claimants when assessing tenancy applications, by demanding guarantors when a prospective tenant’s income – be it from benefits or employment – is sufficient,” it says.


Oxford council also says that despite alleviating measures such as the council tax reduction scheme, people are struggling financially.

“More people rely on benefits due to the pandemic, so the effects of DSS discrimination are now particularly widespread,” it says.

Its members have committed to prevent such discrimination with the city through several measures, the most important of which is via its selective licensing scheme.

This will include new working within its paperwork that will says: “You must not discriminate on the basis of age, gender, race, language, sexuality or any other factor that might place an individual at a disadvantage.

“This includes indirect discrimination… against those in receipt of Department of DWP benefits, referencing the previous initials (DSS) of the department…such as ‘no DSS’ or related practices, namely refusing to let prospective tenants on housing benefit or Universal Credit view affordable properties and requiring guarantors in cases where a prospective tenant’s income is sufficient’.

chris jarvisGreen Party Councillor Chris Jarvis, who is also a member of the city’s Acorn tenant representation organisation, says:  “It’s incredibly welcome that Oxford’s Councillors have put aside political differences to take a clear stance in opposition to housing discrimination against residents in the city on universal credit or housing benefit. For too long, some landlords and letting agents have been acting with impunity – despite DSS discrimination having been ruled unlawful in 2020.

“We all know that housing in Oxford is only becoming less and less affordable. Additional barriers to people accessing secure housing in the city must be torn down – starting with discrimination against welfare recipients.”

Read the report in full.

July 28, 2021


  1. If Housing Benefit were re-introduced, and paid to Landlord/Agent from source, we wouldn’t have this problem. The system of UC is broken – not fit for purpose. As children we learnt that nothing is for free; earn pocket money and prioritise spends. If you couldn’t afford something, you couldn’t have it. This lesson is from the 1970s and still valid today.
    If the creators of UC stepped up and acted as Guarantors, that would go a long way to gaining the trust of property owners and Agents alike – this is a business after all, and astute business people would not entertain giving away any assets for free. It’s just not good business sense.

  2. Green Party,
    If u reading, get in touch. I’m biggest Benefit Landlord in Nottingham. I can no longer take UC Benefit tenants. It’s not them, it’s the system. U can do as many covert operations as u like, we ain’t taking ’em till u get the system changed.
    UC won’t talk to us when problems. I’m being paid millions cause DWP are still paying me for houses I’ve sold. DWP have acknowledged there is no way for me to tell them I’ve sold the house.
    Below is what I’ve been doing this morning with DWP.

    Can I have a human being ring me please. As I don’t know one single human on the planet that can do what Third party payments team are asking in that text.
    I don’t work at NASA nor am a University Professor. My brother however who is with me, has a degree in Physics. And he said he said he couldn’t set this up. How do we do it?

    I’m asking about electronic schedules but please don’t set me up without asking me, as I & any non Council or Housing association Landlord can comply if it’s still the below:

    I’d love schedules electronically, but I believe there is no normal Landlord in the UK that has been able to do it with the things u ask.

    Have u simplified this yet?

    Did u say u can answer this then if I fill in the template? What is the template?
    Why aren’t they done monthly same time as tenants Housing Element? Who is expected to do the paperwork & aligning when 3rd Party pay 4 weekly & UC HE pay calendar monthly?

    Is the below still how u ask people to do it? As we’ve passed this University professors & they’ve said unless u a big Housing Association or Council, you’d never be able to do this.

    Option 1 – EDI Transfer Your File

    Transfer Your File is a secure, online file repository system which allows users to log in, access a folder where their file is kept, and download the file at any time. Files will be available for up to 30 days after the schedule has been created. Transfer your file will initially be available only to Local Authorities.

    No testing is performed as you will already have an established connection for Housing Benefit data. LA’s going ‘electronic’ will need to ensure they have liaised with their current Transfer Your File users and arrange who will download the TPP schedule files and place them with the appropriate team within the LA every 4 weeks.

    See Appendix 1, 1a & 1b for further details.

    Option 2 – EDI PGP Secure Email This is available for Creditors/Suppliers (excluding Local authorities).
    DWP will require your organisation’s secure email address for receipt of Secure Email (S/MIME) and a copy of your public key from your server which needs to be sent securely and will be used to encrypt the electronic transaction.
    Estimated set up time scales are around one month.
    See Appendix 2 & 2a for further details.

    Option 3 – EDI Generic File Transfer Service This is available for Creditors/Suppliers (excluding Local authorities).
    Your FTPS file transfer system needs to comply with the GFTS Code of Connection (GFTS CoCo). Please review the GFTS CoCo as it explains the things you will need to agree to in order to set up a secure file transfer route.
    DWP will need: Username, Password, Server IP address, Server Public Certificate bound to the user, FTPS Control Port Number (for connection setup and firewall), recommended port is 21, FTPS dynamic data port range (for firewall), recommended port range are 8050-8249. Folder path where file will be sent to
    Estimated set up time scales are around two – three months.
    See Appendix 3 & 3a for further details.

  3. Affordability is ” NOT ” Discrimination.

    I cannot go into Tesco and put more shopping in my Trolley than the money I have to pay for it.

    ‘Green’ party and other Councillors are ‘ off ‘ their trolley !

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