Benefit claimants are increasingly missing out on finding places to rent, as landlords choose tenants who are better off, surveyors have said.
Members of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (Rics) blamed the shortage of privately-rented property.
It is not unlawful discrimination for an agent or landlord to refuse to let to a prospective tenant who is on benefit.
Receipt of benefits is not one of the protected characteristics as set out in the Equality Act 2010.
A new paper, placed in the House of Commons library this week, specifically addresses the issue of letting to benefit claimants.
It says there are a number of reasons why landlords do not let to claimants: they associate them with rent arrears, anti-social behaviour and damage to property.
A key concern is that Local Housing Allowance is paid to claimants, not landlords. The claimants are trusted to pass the money to their landlords, rather than spend it on other things.
A campaign group in the north east London borough of Hackney claims to have ‘mystery shopped’ 50 letting agents and has discovered alleged discrimination against tenants who claim housing benefit.
The group, called Digs, says on its website that between December and this month is mystery shopped the 50 agents in Hackney to find out if they had properties that would accept tenants who claim housing benefit.
This Saturday renters in London are taking to the streets in a “day of action” calling for an end to what they describe as “discriminatory practices” which deny housing to people in receipt of benefits.
The ‘Yes DSS’ campaign, launched by private renter group Digs calls on letting agents, landlords and mortgage lenders to remove blanket ‘No DSS’ policies that are becoming increasingly common across London.
Digs phoned 50 letting agents in Hackney and found only one property, a one studio flat in the north of the borough that was available to people who claim housing benefit.
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