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A new ruling on Housing Benefit and renting

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In July, a new court ruling was declared to avoid discrimination in the housing sector – making it illegal for landlords to place blanket bans on renting to tenants on Housing Benefit.

This means that “No DSS” rental bans now go against equality laws in the UK, so landlords can’t reject tenancy applications because their potential new tenant receives Housing Benefit.

This is a big step forward for hundreds of thousands of renters – especially in a time when COVID-19 has caused huge job loss and forced many people into seeking housing benefit to survive.

Are there any exceptions?

Some buy to let mortgages and insurance policies still have clauses saying that landlords can’t accept tenants on benefits – so if these landlords do accept Housing Benefit tenants, they’ll be breaching their mortgage or insurance terms. It’s unclear when or if this will change, but for now these landlords do still need the option to choose.

How SpareRoom are supporting this

We’re changing some of the filters on SpareRoom to support this ruling. If you’re placing an ad, we’ll still have a box for “Housing Benefit welcome?” but you can only select “No” if you/your landlord’s mortgage or insurance terms don’t permit Housing Benefit tenants. On the live advert, users will be able to clearly see that the offerer is prohibited from letting to Housing Benefit tenants for these reasons.

We’re also banning “no DSS/housing benefit” from ad copy – so if you try to enter these terms in the title or description of your ad, you’ll get an error message telling you this isn’t permitted.

If you’ve got any questions about our changes and the new ruling, don’t hesitate to contact us.

Image credit: @ethanrwilkinson.

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