Tenancy Management Welfare Reform and Homelessness

No DSS policies: Landlords reminded tenancies MUST be assessed individually

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Sally Walmsley
Written by Sally Walmsley

The RLA is reminding landlords they must not impose blanket bans that discriminate against tenants on benefits.

As Shelter prepares to release a new report on the issue this week, the association has reiterated its position – that landlords should assess all potential tenancies individually, and that decisions must be made fairly on a case by case basis, considering all the risks.

David Smith, RLA policy director said: “A no DSS policy is wrong on a number of levels – firstly and quite simply it is outdated – the ‘DSS’ no longer exists.

“The legal position is unclear, but a blanket ban is potentially unlawful, unless of course a landlord’s lender specifically prohibits them renting to people in receipt of benefits in their mortgage conditions.

“Although fewer lenders have these conditions now, there are tens if not hundreds of thousands of mortgages already in existence that do, and this is something that needs to be addressed by UK Finance.

“The Government is piling on regulation after regulation and this, combined with recent tax changes, is making landlords increasingly risk averse.

“Research shows that fewer landlords are willing to rent to claimants as benefits, including Universal Credit, are still largely paid in arrears, making it more and more challenging for those receiving them to pay their rent in full and on time.

“The Government should ensure that the system does not place landlords that let to tenants in receipt of benefits in a worse position than those who do not.”

About the author

Sally Walmsley

Sally Walmsley

Sally Walmsley is the Magazine and Digital Editor for the NRLA. With 20 years’ experience writing for regional and national newspapers and magazines she is responsible for editing our members' magazine 'Property', producing our articles for our news site, the weekly and monthly bulletins and editorial content for our media partners.


    • I assume your a landlord so let me ask you this. If you have an inquiry from a current dss tenant that can prove they are good with the rent and always pay a month in advance would you take them on? A tenant with good references and proof of no rent arrears or paying in advance being a problem would you take them on?

  • Just watched it.
    What a useless response and wasted opportunity from the RLA.

    Dss are higher risk tenants
    No/difficult direct payment (clawback)
    No attachment of earnings.
    Fallacy of just 2 month’s to evict.
    Weakening of section 21
    Useless section 8
    Punishment taxes (eg section 24)
    Selective licensing
    Obstructive councils
    Etc, etc. It goes on and on.
    The government are reaping what they sow.

    And all the RLA can come up with is the mortgage lenders won’t allow it!

    • And what if you had an enquiry from someone on benefits that can prove they have no arrears, always pay a month in advance and can also prove that and can provide exellent references from both current and previous landlords? Would your opinion then change or are you the sort of person that thinks benefit claiments are lazy junkies who are going to rob you blind? It’s discrimination in every form.

  • Are mortgages and insurance policies that say no DSS illegal? Why does the government come after those?

    A quick insurance policy search shows that a DSS policy is 3 times as expensive as a no DSS policy.

  • “A no DSS policy is wrong on a number of levels – firstly and quite simply it is outdated – the ‘DSS’ no longer exists.

    “The legal position is unclear, but a blanket ban is potentially unlawful”

    If DSS doesn’t exist, how can it be unlawful to ban it?

    • It is being used as a shorthand for ‘no benefits claimants’ – and it is this that is potentially unlawful.

      • the clue is in your answer ‘potentially illegal’.

        Why should a landlord accept a tenant who will cost them £1000 in solicitors fees for possession once a section 21 has been served (our local authority tells tenants to sit tight until a court order is produced)?

        Why should a landlord have to risk a tenant not paying their rent and not be able to get rent guarantee protection because the tenant is in receipt of housing benefit (or whatever the payment is called nowadays)?

        Why do these lobbyists always fight for people’s rights but never force them to live up to their responsibilities?

        If Shelter would like to cover my client’s unpaid rent then we will start taking benefit tenants again.

        • Just because you don’t assess your tenants before moving them into your properties it does not give you the right to tar every benefit claimant with the same brush. I was a “law abiding tax payer from being 1996 right up until last year when I was diagnosed with lung disease. I now can’t rent privately due to being on benefits even though I can provide proof that my rent is always paid a month in advance and my references being so good that even previous landlords keep offering me properties outside the areas I am looking to be. The way you look at the situation is biast and discriminatory and landlords like yourself should be banned from renting!

  • My council is £300m in Debt. They MIGHT make 4 weekly payments of HB/Universal Credit in arrears, stop or suspend claimants benefits at the drop of a hat, fail to advise landlords/agents of suspensions in a timely manner, refuse to speak to landlords/agents because of GDPR……..Why would any landlord take a risk on an organisation that is £300m in debt – I don’t think they are a safe risk. How can this be discriminatory – surely its just good business sense to avoid any organisation with a debt that high?

    • Because it’s judging one person on another’s actions. I’m a benefits tenant and for 1, universal credits housing allowance isn’t paid by councils it’s paid by the dwp themselves which sort of blows your perspective out of the water and for 2, if a private landlord has problems with a benefits claimant they can request the rent be paid directly to them. I’m on universal credit after being diagnosed with lung disease last year, up until that I worked for 24 years and now am limited to the sort of accomadation that is both suitable and affordable for myself. Not everyone on benefits drinks smokes or takes drugs and we are not all bad tenants. It is discriminatory and also if you assess your tenants your rent is guaranteed unlike say someone who works a zero hour contract. It’s NOT GUARANTEED THEY ARE GOING TO ALWAYS GET WORK WHICH MEANS THEY CANT PAY RENT. Dss claimants however can if they want to keep a roof over them

  • why dont the councils and government do more to protect the landlords from fraud then they will be more willing to rent to benefit tenants. Ie. if a tenant moves on without paying rent they have claimed for.. (fraud) then the council should impose a deduction out of future claim to proven arrears with former landlord. This in my opinion will immediately stop tenants doing this thus meaning more landlords will have no problem accepting benefit tenants. at present we have situation were the antiquated benefits system is forcing landlords to make these decisions, forcing people on to an already lengthy property pool waiting lists (vicious circle) but instead of blaming there system they tell landlords you can not discriminate…

  • Hi Sally – the issue with Housing benefit tenants is not that rent is paid in arrears or any problem with the tenants themselves. It’s simply the difficulty in regaining possession as councils will not rehouse those tenants until they have been made homeless through the courts and ultimately bailiff eviction which is both very costly and time consuming.

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