31 March 2021

Is your letting agent discriminating against DSS tenants?

By Will Riley Senior Account Handler
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One of the big topics in the landlord community in recent months has been around DSS tenants and whether you can effectively bar them from renting your property. DSS tenants are often viewed as more troublesome which can make them a more undesirable tenant for landlords. Recently we explored some of the reasons why people think this in our recent article do insurers favour professional let tenants? We also spoke about why some insurers are more cautious about covering DSS tenants and the difficulties this can cause when getting your DSS landlord insurance.

But did you know that if you prevent DSS tenants from living in your property, you may be breaking the law and open to a fine?

This all stems from a ruling in July 2020 where “DSS discrimination” was declared unlawful. The applicant, Jane, had to leave her previous property after being served a no-fault eviction notice by the previous landlord. She approached a local letting agent to rent an affordable local property but they turned her down, saying that it was their policy not to accept DSS tenants.

With help from the homeless charity Shelter, it was argued that she was the subject of indirect discrimination under the Equality Act 2010.  They argued that “Under the Equality Act, it is unlawful to indirectly discriminate based on things like gender, disability or race. ‘No DSS’, ‘no benefits’ or ‘no Universal Credit’ policies breach the act via indirect discrimination, as they disproportionately harm women and disabled people, who are more likely to receive housing benefit.”

In September last year, a second ruling was made in similar circumstances. Stephen Tyler, was also prevented from viewing properties by his local letting agent. Again with the help of Shelter, he took his case to court under the Equality Act 2010 arguing that he was the victim of indirect discrimination on the grounds that his disability was making it more difficult to rent a property as he was more likely to need assistance with paying the rent.

Whilst these rulings do not appear to bring a stop to the blanket ban of advertising properties as “no DSS” it does raise the prospect of agents and landlords needing to be more careful in future. Most disabled people will need assistance from housing benefits meaning a no DSS policy would disproportionately disadvantage them. Given the two rulings we have discussed, letting agents should be careful how they advertise their properties and be very considerate in the future so that they aren’t the subject of similar legal action in the future.

According to a You Gov poll in January 2020 nearly two thirds of private landlords prefer not to rent to DSS tenants. With the results of these court rulings it’s fair to say that private landlords should be extra cautious as discriminating against DSS tenants could have serious repercussions. We would advise that you speak with your letting agent to check what their policy is and that it doesn’t put them or you at risk of future court action.

However, fear not! At Protect My Let we work with a number of different insurers and have a variety of options to cover you not only for your DSS landlord insurance, but other more general landlord insurance. We can cover DSS tenants as well as private tenants and a wide range of other tenant types. Whatever your letting arrangements, we have landlord insurance options to suit you all.

You can get in touch with us by clicking here or using my direct details below. We’re always happy to help.

T  01206 655 899

E  enquiries@protectmylet.com

To find out more about the tenant types our landlord insurance covers please click the links below:

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Want to find out more about landlord insurance for DSS?

You can find further useful information and get in touch with a member of our team or submit an enquiry on our DSS landlord insurance page.

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