People receiving housing benefit can no longer be barred from renting properties advertised on one of the UK’s largest listing websites.
Property website Zoopla has announced that it will take measures in the upcoming weeks aimed at minimising blanket restrictions which apply to renters who receive housing benefit. This will include removing the “no DSS” field from its software and products.
The company will also change its terms and conditions to halt the inclusion of “No DSS” restrictions on its site, plus adding processes that remove references to “no DSS” or “no housing benefit” from listings on its pages.
Research by the National Housing Federation in 2018 found that at least one in 10 listings on Zoopla contained “no DSS” or “no housing benefit” restrictions.
All Tenants Deserve A Chance
The decision comes after both the National Landlords Association (NLA) and Residential Landlord’s Association (RLA) condemned these blanket restrictions. While there is currently no case law to say these restrictions against those claiming housing benefit count as discrimination, the NLA has called it “unfair” and “poor practice.”
A lack of adequate housing impacts a range of rights, including the right to a private and family life, protected by Article 8 of the Human Rights Convention.
This includes the protection of a person’s physical and psychological integrity, which is arguably compromised by the stress and anxiety of being unable to find suitable housing. It can also impact an individual’s right to health, and dignity.
Commenting on the announcement, Charlie Bryant, managing director of Zoopla, said: “We fully support the recommendations of the NLA and the RLA, which oppose blanket bans against tenants in receipt of housing-related benefits, and are pleased to be taking action which clarifies this position.”
“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.”
He continued: “We proactively 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.”
Parliament’s Work and Pensions Committee has launched an inquiry into discrimination against benefits claimants.
It’s putting questions to lenders, landlords, agents and benefit recipients, plus running an online survey of claimants who have faced problems when finding a place to rent or had issues with landlords.