The Property Ombudsman (TPO) has determined that blanket bans on renting to families are in breach of its Code of Practice after a mum of four won her landmark case against an estate agent who discriminated against her family.
Supported by Shelter, Lexi Levens (main pic), an NHS neonatal nurse, succeeded in challenging ‘no kids’ barriers in the private rental market on the grounds that such bans breach equality rules laid out in The Property Ombudsman’s code of practice. This is because such bans disproportionately affect women.
Going forward, any letting agent who is a member of TPO will not be able to include blanket bans in property listings – or follow a landlord’s orders to – without reasonable evidence or justification. If they do, they will be in breach of the body’s Code of Practice and may be required to pay compensation to anyone discriminated against.
Polly Neate, Chief Executive of Shelter, says: “The Government’s Renters’ Reform Bill – which will make discrimination explicitly unlawful – is ready and waiting. The Government needs to stop stalling and make it law once and for all.”
And Peter Habert, Director of Policy at The Property Ombudsman, warns: “Where an agent is involved, if they receive such an instruction from a landlord, they should question this and ask the landlord to evidence the appropriate reason why.
“This will allow agents to provide an explanation to prospective tenants on an individual basis and ensure they can evidence they have acted correctly should a dispute arise.”
Zoopla says it will be looking at how it can help agents and their customers to meet the proposals in the renters reform bill on additional requirements placed on who can apply for a home from Zoopla listings.
A spokesperson says: “This case is a reminder of the importance of the Renters Reform Bill and the role it needs to play in reducing any unwarranted limitations on who can rent homes.
“This is important at a time when there is a chronic shortage of supply. All market participants have a role to play here including agents on behalf of their clients and multiple listing portals – half of landlords don’t use an agent at all making this area harder to police.”
Pic credit: Shelter.