Benefit claimants are the modern equivalent of dogs to private landlords, say MPs

Britain’s landlords are living in the past, it seems, with many of them determined to exclude benefit claimants by using the archaic statement “No DSS”.

The DSS to which this refers was the Department of Social Security, which was merged into the Department for Work and Pensions nearly two decades ago, in 2001.

It is symptomatic of an attitude that belongs even further in history, when prospective tenants were put off by the racist slogan, “No blacks, no Irish, no dogs.”

Obviously landlords can no longer advertise racism, although one way around that may be the “No DSS” slogan, as racial minorities are still more likely to be on benefits.

And it seems dogs are more desirable than claimants these days:

The Commons work and pensions select committee on Wednesday confronted the director of Your Move, a national online lettings agency, with an advert it published in March for a home in Telford, Shropshire, that read: “No DSS. Small dogs considered.”

More interestingly, the slogan is offensive to almost one-third of the UK population. Perhaps these landlords don’t realise that 20 million people in the UK are currently claiming benefits, according to the DWP.

Derek Thomas MP said [it] amounted to a “hostile environment” for tenants on benefits.

In practise, the exclusion refers to the 889,000 people on Housing Benefit.

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.

So these landlords are deliberately pushing benefit claimants – most commonly women and people with disabilities – into hardship.

It’s deliberate discrimination – but the only remedy is expensive court action.

Letting agents have said landlords have derogatory preconceptions about people on benefits – that they believe their properties may be damaged in ways depicted on TV shock-documentaries about nightmare tenants.

Worse, the Conservative government’s Universal Credit is a disaster for people on benefits because it deliberately starves them of the funds they need to pay their bills – and landlords interpret this as unreliability on the part of the tenant, rather than the government.

Frank Field, chair of the Commons Work and Pensions committee, said it was possible to recommend new legislation to stop discrimination against benefit claimants.

But how far is that likely to get, when the likes of Christopher Chope and Philip Davies are there to “talk out” any Bills to penalise landlords, from the backbenches?

In fact, with the House of Commons stuffed with MPs who are also landlords, how can anyone hope for positive change?

Source: MPs call on landlords to scrap ‘no DSS’ clauses in rental ads | Society | The Guardian

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  1. hugosmum70 April 26, 2019 at 11:02 pm - Reply

    there should be a law which prevents any MPs who are landlords from taking part in any debate that is about the situation that this is about. as for MR stope. he should be banned from ANY discussion after his behaVIOUR WHEN DEBATES WERE GOING ON ABOUT FGM and upskirting . and any other debate that is of similar sensitive nature , his past behaviour on the above subjects is appalling and one has to wonder WHY? why did he speak so long knowing that he was taking up time which then led to MPs being unable to vote when time ran out…..does he have a personal agenda of some kind? he certainly does when it comes to private landlords. one wonders also if he has set out deliberately to stop as many things going through or being voted on as he can.

  2. nmac064 April 27, 2019 at 7:50 am - Reply

    Why, oh why, do working class people still vote for the nasty, rotten, corrupt and dishonest Tories?

  3. kateuk April 27, 2019 at 8:42 am - Reply

    In the past when housing benefit was paid directly to landlords, there was never a problem because the landlords knew that they would get the rent on time every month. When it was changed to give claimants “more choice” in how they spent their money, that’s when it all fell apart and landlords no longer wanted people on benefits as tenants. Plus the fact that housing benefit no longer actually covers the rent. This situation is entirely of the government’s making.

  4. Michael McNulty April 27, 2019 at 11:58 am - Reply

    The gig economy changed things. A landlord told me in the late ’90s he was okay with people on benefits because the payments were regular, but agency workers can lose a job or have problems with pay and he’d not know about it until the rent was in arrears. This must be a major problem in the gig economy with Zero Hours Contracts..

    With agency/gig work if you start work on Monday but aren’t paid ’til a week on Friday you’re nearly two weeks in rent arrears before your first pay day. Many people find out short-term jobs or less than a full week’s work costs you more money than the job paid when earning less than your rent and work expenses. Some jobs COST you money.

  5. Julian Townsend April 27, 2019 at 8:20 pm - Reply

    I hold no torch for private landlords; but it’s understandable they are reluctant to let to benefit claimants as, in most areas, the LHA is way below the actual market rent. Tenants are expected to make up the difference between their actual rent and what the HB will pay, from their already inadequate benefits. Of course they cannot afford to do this. So from the landlord’s point of view, why let to someone on benefits if you know they will be in arrears within s few months?

  6. hugosmum70 April 28, 2019 at 12:14 am - Reply

    maybe they wont next time. who knows?

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