Discrimination against people who receive housing benefit is rife in private renting. Shelter sees every day how it turns people’s lives upside down and pushes many into homelessness.
So-called No DSS discrimination is when landlords or letting agents refuse someone’s tenancy application simply because they receive benefits, even when they can afford the rent. Sometimes, a letting agent or landlord will explicitly advertise “no DSS” or “no benefits”. Other times, a person will enquire about a property only to be refused or ignored.
In 2019, we found that almost a third of private renters receiving housing benefit (32 per cent) had been barred from renting a home they wanted by a No DSS policy in the last five years. There are currently 4.6 million households in privately rented homes in England, and at least one million of them receive housing benefit – that number has also increased drastically during the pandemic. This means hundreds of thousands of people are being blocked from finding a safe home.
— Shelter (@Shelter) August 10, 2020
It is easy to see how people repeatedly turned away because they receive benefits are ending up on the brink of homelessness with nowhere to turn. Overstretched councils are already buckling under homelessness applications from people who cannot afford private rentals. It’s senseless that people experiencing DSS discrimination are adding to their numbers and becoming homeless – when they can afford to pay private rents.
We launched our End DSS Discrimination campaign two years ago, working with mortgage lenders, letting agents, insurance companies, landlord associations, and central and local government. Many agreed these policies are outdated and tenants should be assessed individually. But we continued to hear from people being refused properties they could afford.