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How to challenge discrimination when renting with children

Who this guide is for

Our guide is for families with children looking for a private rented home.

Anyone can challenge discrimination by letting agents.

It could be discrimination if you're refused a viewing or offer of a private rented home just because you have children.

Women are more likely to live with children than men are. So restrictions on renting to families with children are likely to be indirect discrimination under the Equality Act 2010.

If you're dealing directly with a landlord, you cannot always challenge discrimination in the same way. This is because private landlords are not regulated in the same way as agents.

What counts as a 'no kids' rental policy?

A 'no kids' policy is when an agent refuses to rent you a property that is suitable and affordable, just because you have children.

Policies might not be formal or written down. They could include when agents:

  • say it's the landlord's choice not to rent to families

  • advertise properties as 'couples only' or 'children not accepted'

  • refuse a viewing or tenancy offer when they find out you have children

Before you complain

You need to show that:

  • you can afford the rent

  • the property is a suitable size for your family

Agents will also check you can meet upfront costs, such as a deposit.

1. Show you can afford the rent

Answer questions about your income honestly. Explain how you can pay the rent. For example, through wages, benefits or child maintenance.

Offer 2 months' rent in advance, references and bank statements if you can.

Ask for a credit check to be waived if you can afford the rent but have a poor credit rating.

It can help to have a guarantor but it's not a legal requirement.

Affordability, referencing or credit checks should not be needed just for a viewing. Letting agents cannot charge fees for these checks.

2. Check the property is a suitable size

Check how many bedrooms you can claim for if you get universal credit or housing benefit.

The age, sex and number of people in your household affects your local housing allowance (LHA) rate.

Check the rules on overcrowding. As long as the property would not be legally overcrowded, the agent cannot say the property is too small for your family.

When to complain

A complaint will not always work but it gives the agent a chance to put things right.

Some agents respond better to a friendly email than a more formal complaint.

Last updated: 13 September 2022

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