Benefit Discrimination

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I was watching an article on our local news the other day about Landlords and recruitment agencies discriminating against different races (ie if the owner of the property told the letting agency not to show prospective tennants who are black would the letting agency abide by the owners wishes) Sadly, some said they would. But then I thought what about letting agencies that advertise that they dont want tennants who are on DSS, Is this discriminatory?

A person suddenly becomes a carer, previously they were both working full time and had a mortgage, suddenly they're finances are very limited and they eventually have their home repossesed but then where can they move to if they can only afford to rent but oh wait you cant rent this place because you're on benefits Image Image
You're right, Alex. There has been an increasing number of landlords in our area saying "no DWP tenants". Mind you, if the current climate continues they may be glad of people on benefits yet.
I have always perceived it as discriminatory because it denies a service which is available to the rest of society to individuals purely based on their status, i.e. benefit claimants.

Like all discrimination it is often predicated on negative stereotypes, sometimes based on ignorance, sometimes based on one bad experience although landlords would not impose a blanket ban on working tenants because of one bad experience, it would not be in their business interests to do so, which brings us back to stereotypes.

There are cases though where the benefits system is to blame, it has not been unusual for tenants reliant on Housing Benefit to pay their rent to have to wait many weeks for their claims to be processed leaving them in increasing rent arrears and landlords have businesses to run and become wary of letting to claimants again (I have even heard of council tenants being threatened with eviction by the very council which has failed to process their Housing Benefit claim, there were a spate of these cases some time back when councils contracted out their Housing Benefit processing to the private sector).

The paucity of private rented accommodation available to benefit claimants also allows unscrupulous landlords to provide appalling accommodation, often at inflated rents, to those who have little choice, who, when faced with a shortfall in their rent payment would refuse to use their other benefits to keep a roof over their head even at the expense of having insufficient to live on? The sale of social housing to tenants and the failure to replace these properties with more social housing at affordable rents merely adds to the problem.

Whether the change from Housing Benefit to Local Housing Allowance for benefit claimants renting from private landlords will improve their prospects remains to be seen. Whilst the landlord can check the amount that will be paid based on the Local Area Rent before renting out the property removing the uncertainty about whether the prospective tenant will be able to meet his rent obligations, the fact that it is now paid directly to the tenant rather than the landlord other than in exceptional circumstances seems to put deter some landlords, stereotypes again, there is no proof that benefit claimants will not pass on benefits provided for rent payments to their landlords, in fact, by the necessity of having to survive on very low incomes, contrary to public opinion, rather than being feckless, benefit claimants are on the whole very good at managing their money and prioritising expenditure.

On a practical level it is still worth approaching landlords who state that they do not let to "DSS", perhaps the use of such an out-of-date acronym says something about landlords' knowledge of benefit claimants? Offered references, a deposit and a month rent in advance some will overcome their prejudices and rent to claimants.
I visit people in their homes as part of my p/t job, and I can assure you that some of the very worst housing I have ever seen is older tenements (formerly local authority) now managed by housing associations.

I think there are real problems for private landlords evicting people who dont pay their rent, and sure, some of these are folk evicted already from public sector housing for non payment. But yes, I think it is unfair discrimination, but its perfectly legal, just as a landlord can say "No Pets" .

If they tried the same trick on black people or disabled people, they would be open to prosecution.
I find it strange landlords say this, after all it guarantees rent. It would be good if an act of discrimination was passed on this. I can't see what their reasons for not allowing DSS would be apart from snobbery. Image
I find it strange landlords say this, after all it guarantees rent. It would be good if an act of discrimination was passed on this. I can't see what their reasons for not allowing DSS would be apart from snobbery. Image
Stereotypes, The stereotypical benefit claimant, is a lout with more kids than fingers, loud, has a criminal record and drinks white lightning. Ok, thats a bit of a hyperbole but apart from snobbery I think it must be the negative stereotype that is attatched to benefit claimants.