Zoopla bans rental ads that discriminate against benefit claimants

Published by Stephen Little on 15 March 2019.
Last updated on 15 March 2019

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Property website Zoopla has banned adverts that discriminate against renters who claim housing benefit.

Zoopla says it will launch additional measures in the coming weeks to reduce blanket restrictions which apply to renters who receive housing benefit.

This includes prohibiting the inclusion of “No DSS” restrictions on the site and removing the term from listings uploaded to the Zoopla website. It also plans to remove the “No DSS” fields in its cloud-based software.

The National Landlords Association and the Residential Landlords Association have both said that blanket bans on tenants claiming benefits should not be used.

Research from the National Housing Federation has found that one in 10 rental properties in England are likely to be advertised unlawfully by discriminating against people who rely on housing benefit.

Charlie Bryant, managing director of Zoopla, says: “We fully support the recommendations of the NLA and the RLA, which oppose blanket bans against tenants in receipt of housing-related benefits, and are pleased to be taking action which clarifies this position.

"All tenants who are looking to rent a property deserve the chance to be fully assessed for their suitability and matched to a home that suits both their and the landlord’s circumstances.

“We proactively sought the views of our largest lettings-focused agents to ensure the above measures were undertaken on a collaborative basis and received significant support in respect of our proposed additional measures.”

The news comes after high street bank NatWest said it was scrapping restrictions on landlords with buy-to-let mortgages from letting homes to benefit claimants.

NatWest came under fire in October after it was revealed that the bank was refusing to remortgage a property because it was being rented to a tenant receiving housing benefits.

Polly Neate, chief executive at Shelter, says: “It’s fantastic to see Zoopla leading the portal pack by scrapping ‘No DSS’ adverts from its website.

"For far too long, perfectly good tenants have been barred from renting a home simply because they receive housing benefit – but changes like these show the tide is turning and DSS discrimination will not be tolerated.

“If a leading name like Zoopla can play its part in treating customers fairly, on a case-by-case basis, then others can too. Rightmove and the wider lettings industry must now follow suit and make ‘DSS’ discrimination a thing of the past.”

According to the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government (MHCLG) around half of landlords say they are not be willing to let to tenants on housing benefits.

Earlier this month, the government said it was planning to investigate letting adverts that discriminate against would-be tenants on housing benefit.

The UK’s Parliament’s Work and Pensions Committee has also launched an inquiry into discrimination against benefit claimants in the housing sector.

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As a landlord with over 20

As a landlord with over 20 years of experience if the law is changed to stop me refusing HB claimants as tenants then I will be very happy to interview them and decide they are not who I am looking for. I do not have to give a reason other than saying they were not suitable just as when someone applies for a job they may get a letter saying that 'on this occasion you were not successful but best wishes for the future'