The National Housing Federation and charity Shelter examined 86,000 online adverts for rental properties. They found that one in 10 of those adverts requested "No DSS" or "No Housing Benefit". While it is not unlawful to refuse people on benefits, Shelter said it was likely to contravene the Equality Act. The Act protects disabled people and women - who make up the majority of private sector tenants on benefits in England.
The research found many other adverts implied that no one on benefits was welcome - for example by saying "professionals only". In response, landlords said many of the UK's mortgage lenders refuse to lend money to landlords whose tenants are on benefits. A previous study by Shelter and the National Housing Federation (NHF) - which represents housing associations in England - found that 10% of letting agents in England did not rent out to tenants who were claiming benefits. This research shows that blatant discrimination against people on housing benefit is widespread, said Kate Henderson, chief executive of the NHF.
Many housing associations were created in the 50s and 60s in reaction to discrimination and racism from private landlords who wouldn't house migrants, and said 'No Irish, No Blacks, No Dogs'. Today's discrimination is hardly any different and we refuse to turn a blind eye.
Landlords who say 'no DSS' are flouting law. The Residential Landlords Association (RLA) said landlords could not be blamed, as many mortgage lenders refuse to offer loans where tenants are on benefits. David Smith, the policy director of the RLA, told the BBC that 90% of lenders have at least one product which discriminates against benefit claimants.