REVEALED: Why many private landlords won’t rent to tenants on benefits

In-depth report that examine private rental market and how landlords have been abandoned by government explains why 'No DSS' attitudes persist.

no dss

A new and scathing report into government housing policy has laid bare the reality behind many landlords’ decision not to rent to tenants in receipt of benefits via ‘No DSS’ adverts.

Published by the University of York’s Centre for Housing Policy and funded by the Nationwide Foundation, it paints a picture of private landlords who are increasingly unhappy with extra regulation and reluctant to deal with tenants on benefits.

The report pins the blame for this position on the government, which it says has for years reduced investment in social housing and encourage the transfer of council houses to private ownership via Right to Buy.

These dual problems, compounded by baby-boomer landlords exiting the market and not being replaced by younger landlords, mean the private rented sector faces a challenging future.

Lead author of the project, Dr Julie Rugg (pictured), says the report shows the government a way out; there are many landlords who target tenants in receipt of Universal Credit both for altruistic reasons and also if they are paid their rent direct by the DWP and the rent is ‘guaranteed’.

But Rugg’s report also says that, in most areas where landlords have options, many are reluctant to rent to ‘DSS’ tenants, particularly given the looming government plan to abolish Section 21 notice evictions.

Also, landlords are reducing their housing benefit lettings and new landlords are less likely to let in this market: only 9 per cent of landlords in the market for three years or less said they currently let to people receiving housing benefit; for landlords letting for 11 or more years, this figure was 28 per cent.

“It’s a real concern that many good, professional landlords are no longer letting to housing benefit claimants because of the way that Universal Credit is administered,” says Rugg.

‘Not discriminate’

A spokesperson from the NRLA says: “No landlord should discriminate against tenants because they are in receipt of benefits.

“Every tenant’s circumstance is different and so they should be treated on a case-by-case basis based on their ability to sustain a tenancy.

“More broadly, the Government needs to take action to give both tenants and landlords greater confidence that benefits will cover rents.”


  1. The two biggest obstacles to renting to LHA tenants are still:
    1) the benefit rate does not cover the rent, often by a considerable amount
    2) when paid direct to the landlord overpayment of benefit, whether through a simple change of circumstances, mis-understanding or even outright fraud on behalf of the tenant is recovered from the landlord. Who in their right mind would take that risk?

  2. Wow, Nationwide Foundation, sponsored by Shelter, and Julie Rugg, known for picking out the worse in the PRS are actually laying the blame at the Government for Once ! ( let me sit down and recover )

    Meanwhile, the NRLA are actually arguing against them for speaking up for Landlords.
    Is the National Residential Tenants Association changed roles ?

  3. I’m biggest Benefit Landlord in Nottingham & I can no longer take Benefit tenants. My current lot are brilliant, but many been with me over 20 years. It’s the UC system & Licensing & everything else.
    We could solve 50% of homeless in one swoop if UC worked with us.
    I sold a house 3 months ago & UC still paying me for a tenant that is not mine. UC admit there is no way for Landlord to tell them. They designed the UC system to purposely exclude the very important Landlord.

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