Zoopla is to ban ‘No DSS’ adverts from being uploaded to its property portal by letting agents from next month onwards after consulting with the industry.
The announcement follows a campaign by Shelter and the National Housing Federation in November last year that criticised many agents’ websites and the major portals for carrying such adverts.
Zoopla is to amend its T&Cs to ban member agents from including ‘No DSS’ or similar terms in adverts, implement tech to automatically remove listings that feature them, and remove the ‘No DSS’ tick boxes within its software products’ upload suites.
At the time of last year’s outcry over the adverts, Zoopla recommended its member agents following the guidance of both the National Landlords Association (NLA) and Residential Landlords Association (RLA), which recommend the industry drops the practice.
“We fully support the recommendations of the NLA and RLA, which oppose blanket bans against tenants in receipt of housing-related benefits, and are pleased to be taking action which clarifies this position,” says Charlie Bryant (left), MD of Zoopla.
“All tenants who are looking to rent a property deserve the chance to be fully assessed for their suitability and matched to a home that suits both their and the landlord’s circumstances.
“We pro-actively sought the views of our largest lettings-focused agents to ensure the above measures were undertaken on a collaborative basis and received significant support in respect of our proposed additional measures.”
The announcement by Zoopla is timely. Next week industry representatives are due to be quizzed over the practice by a parliamentary committee following comments by housing minister Heather Wheeler that action was to be taken.
“We welcome today’s announcement from Zoopla which comes after extensive campaigning by the RLA,” says Chris Town, Vice Chair of the Residential Landlords Association.
“Landlords should not refuse someone solely because they are on benefits, and should consider prospective tenants on a case by case basis. But with growing numbers of benefit claimants now reliant on the private rented sector we need to do more to give tenants and landlords greater confidence in the benefits system.”
“This is a good step in the right direction as agents and Zoopla move away from excluding those on benefits from renting in the private sector, but a big job still remains to persuade landlords to follow suit,” says Sheraz Dar (left), CEO of Creditladder.co.uk
“Nevertheless, this is the latest example of how the property industry can play its part in reversing the bad practices which, through everyday thoughtlessness, have become the norm.”