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Regulation & Law

Property portals heavily criticised for allowing ‘No DSS’ rental listings

Research by Shelter and the National Housing Federation used Zoopla listings to discover that 10% of them featured 'discriminatory' requirements.

Nigel Lewis

An example of the kind of adverts targeted by the NHF/Shelter is this flat for rent above an estate agency in Birmingham, a one-bedroom apartment apparently above its own branch.

 

The UK’s leading property portals are facilitating the potentially illegal advertising of homes to rent by allowing letting agents to stipulate ‘no DSS’ or ‘no benefits’ within their listings.

This claim is made today jointly by charity Shelter and the National Housing Federation (NHF), which says that one in ten rental properties advertised on Zoopla are explicitly discriminating against people who rely on housing benefit.

The joint report looked at 86,000 listings on Zoopla and found that 8,710 excluded those by specifying ‘no DSS or ‘no housing benefit’ applicants.

The NHF claims there are 1.4 million people in the UK who receive benefits but cannot access social housing and turn to the private sector to rent a home.

Because women and those with disabilities are over represented within this group, excluding them as rental applicants is “likely to violate the 2010 Equality Act”, the NHF says.

Property portals

Shelter and the NHF used Zoopla’s listings to make their point, but say they found many other discriminatory adverts on other major portals and larger agencies’ websites including Rightmove, SpareRoom.com and OpenRent.

“Zoopla supports the recommendations of the National Landlords Association and the Residents Landlords Association, which have advocated that landlords do not impose blanket bans against tenants on benefits,” says a Zoopla spokesperson.

“Zoopla is aware of a small number of rental listings on its websites that fit into this category and Zoopla will write to all of its member agents to recommend that they follow the NLA and RLA guidance.”

Some areas of the UK are worse than others, the NHF/Shelter report highlights. North Cumbria has the highest proportion of adverts that say ‘No DSS’ at 59% while neighbour West Cumbria has 38% and Gloucester 35%.

“This research shows that blatant discrimination against people on housing benefit is widespread. Landlords and letting agents are pushing people towards homelessness and could be breaking equality law.” Says Kate Henderson, Chief Executive of the NHF (left).

“It is beyond me why property portals are permitting these adverts. They’re sending the message that they’re ok discriminating against someone, simply because they’re on benefits. This has to change.”

The Negotiator also approached Rightmove for comment but at time of publishing, only received a response from Zoopla. OpenRent declined to comment.

November 8, 2018

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