With demand for rental property increasing year on year, enquiries for homes from housing benefit claimants is at an all time high. Apart from the actual number of claimants, the demand from people in this part of the market remains high due to only a monority of Landlords and Agents who will consider them for a tenancy.
Earlier this month a disabled mum of two from York won her case at the County Court after challenging the No DSS policy of the Letting Agent who rejected her application. This story sent shockwaves through the industry.
The Court heard the woman applied to rent a new home after being served a no-fault Section 21 eviction notice from her former Landlord. She had a long history of renting with references from 2 previous Landlords, a home owning UK -Guarantor , a part time job, savings for a deposit and had even borrowed money from her parents to pay 6 months’ rent in advance. The Judge ruled that she had been treated unfairly and awarded her £3500 in damages and costs.
The ruling is of significance because it is the first time a Judge has stated that excluding housing benefits claimants is “unlawful and discriminatory”. Whilst other Landlords and Agents have been rumbled in the past, these cases were closed with out of court settlements.
Pressure groups like Shelter have stated that this is a clear warning to Landlords who block or refuse applications from Housing Benefit tenants that legal action will be taken.
Some in the legal profession have argued that this was a hollow victory as the ruling was made in the County Court, therefore not binding in other Courts.
The lesson: imposing blanket bans of this sort without considering the circumstances of the individual is very risky. This leaves landlords exposed to the threat of legal action and all that comes with it.
Campaign to end No DSS
The words “No DSS” have been added to property details for many years. In 2018 the main on-line property portals, Zoopla and Rightmove issued a directive banning Agents from this practice.
Homeless charities like Crisis and Shelter have been avid campaigners in bringing about the ban. Whilst some Landlords have not rented to people on benefits for reasons of Insurance and mortgage restrictions, there has been a shift with Lenders and Insurers being far more flexible nowadays
Finding the right tenant
I empathise that as a Landlord, you want to find a suitable tenant for your property. However, each case stands or falls on its merits, be it from Housing Benefit or private sector tenants. Most housing benefit tenants are looking to stay for the long-term. Once vetted and approved, this can prove beneficial to you as a Landlord given that you will have little or no void periods.
The rent is Guaranteed and there is the practical benefit of an established long-term relationship with a reliable tenant.
The application process can take longer as the criteria different, though for the right tenant, it’s worthwhile. This is where we can help as an ethical Letting Agent. We’ll take the stress out of the process giving you the time off you deserve as an Investor.
At Ashmore Residential we are here to help Landlords navigate through the challenges of the Lettings market. If you have any questions relating to this article, don’t hesitate to get in touch.