Last week, Isobel Thomson, safeagent’s Chief Executive, attended a meeting at Number 10 Downing Street to discuss the issue of ‘No DSS’ advertisements.
Taking our place alongside other leading industry organisations and companies, safeagent took part in a roundtable discussion, led by Housing Minister Heather Wheeler MP, looking at ways to stop unfair discrimination of tenants in receipt of benefits.
Before the meeting, Government announced that Metro Bank would change its mortgage lending criteria which currently prevents landlords renting to tenants on housing support. This follows Zoopla and Rightmove removing ‘No DSS’ from adverts on their sites.
The Government acknowledges that the vast majority of the private rental sector provide a fair and professional service but has said references to ‘No DSS’ has no place in the PRS and is determined to introduce a ban.
safeagent is opposed to both direct and indirect discrimination. Ensuring tenants in receipt of housing or other benefits can access the Private Rented Sector (PRS) is a vital part of making the sector fairer and accessible for all.
Commenting, Isobel Thomson, safeagent Chief Executive, said:
“There are a range of people in receipt of benefits who are prospective tenants. They should be treated no differently by landlords or agents from any other prospective tenants.
“It’s important to highlight that agents are not using a blanket ‘No DSS’ ban – far from it. Many lettings and management agents are skilled and knowledgeable in the benefits system and work to ensure tenants in receipt of housing benefit can access the PRS. Some are expert in helping people with Universal Credit (UC) claims and help with affordability assessments that take account of UC – and other benefits including ‘in work’ benefits.”
“We would like to see campaigning organisations stop using the term ‘No DSS’ which perpetuates a perception of discrimination.
“There should also be greater efforts made to ensure that tenants on benefits can access mainstream banking facilities and the advantages such facilities can bring.”
Housing Minister Heather Wheeler MP said:
“Regardless of financial circumstances, everyone should have the same opportunity when looking for a home and I have been determined to end the discrimination those on benefits face.
“Today’s meeting was yet another step forward; marking an important shift in making the private rented sector fairer for all – and I am thrilled that Metro Bank have decided to join us in ending the stigma surrounding tenants on housing benefit.
“I am grateful to those companies for taking the time to discuss this issue and look forward to us continuing to work together.”