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Work & Pensions Select Committee 'No DSS' Debate

Work & Pensions Select Committee 'No DSS' Debate

MPs have demanded landlords and letting agents end the practice of screening out people on benefits.

During a hearing last week, into the widespread refusal of landlords to rent properties to those on benefits, the Commons work and pensions select committee, confronted the director of Your Move, the national lettings agency, with an advert it published in March for a home in Telford, Shropshire, that read: No DSS. Small dogs considered.

They also drew admissions from leading lettings agencies Hunters and Your Rent that they still run no DSS adverts, despite rising opposition to the practice, which Derek Thomas MP said amounted to a hostile environment for tenants on benefits.

Heather Wheeler, the housing minister, said last month she wanted to tackle the practice of no DSS, but it remains widespread. One current advert for a three-bedroom house in Cheshire reads: Small Dogs Considered (higher deposit), NO DSS, NO SMOKERS. Another for a property in Cornwall seems to be trying to avoid using the letters DSS and instead says: No ---. Small dogs considered.

In 2017-18, 889,000 households in the private sector needed housing benefit to pay their rent and the housing charity Shelter said the no DSS practice breached equality law because it disproportionately affects women and people with disabilities. Renters say it means they have less choice, standards are lower and costs higher.

Shelter has about 20 legal cases in progress against landlords and agents who have refused to rent to people on housing benefit. The property website Zoopla has said it will no longer carry no DSS listings and mortgage lenders NatWest, Co-operative Bank and Nationwide have said they will not enforce such clauses in loan agreements. Letting agents and landlords claim they often have no choice but to insert the clauses because mortgage and insurance agreements demand it.

Greg Beales, the policy director of Shelter, told the committee that although it believes the practice amounts to indirect discrimination, each case has to be tackled independently through the courts. The committee chairman, Frank Field, said it could recommend new legislation to stop it.

Wednesday 24th April Work and Pensions Committee No DSS debate

Deb Roberts

Written by Deb Roberts

Source Estates IT Ltd

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