How to challenge discrimination when renting with children

Complain to an ombudsman about 'no kids' discrimination

The Property Ombudsman (TPO) is a free independent service that looks into customer complaints about agents.

The TPO has agreed to investigate 'no kids' discrimination if the agent is a TPO member.

If the agent is not a TPO member they should be registered with the Property Redress Scheme. You can ask the Property Redress Scheme to look at your complaint instead.

The TPO cannot look at complaints about landlords.

When you can complain

First you must complain direct to the agent.

You can contact the TPO if either:

  • you do not get a final response within 8 weeks

  • you're not satisfied with the agent's final response

You have 1 year from when you get the final response to contact the TPO.

Tips to help you complain

These tips have been written in partnership with the Property Ombudsman (TPO)

You should:

  • keep your own records

  • communicate important things by email, for example, asking to rent a property

  • note down the main points of any important conversations with an agent and confirm them by email

Agents must:

  • Treat consumers equally. It is unlawful discrimination to treat people less favourably if they have a 'protected characteristic' under the Equality Act 2010. See paragraph 1e of the Code of Practice for Residential Letting Agents

  • Inform landlords of legal obligations under the Equality Act 2010 preferably in writing. This includes blanket bans on renting to certain groups, such as families with children or people on benefits.

  • Refuse any discriminatory instructions from landlords. For example, if a landlord says they do not want to rent to families with children or people on benefits.

Agents should:

  • Only advertise properties for a certain number of tenants if this is because of the size of the property and legal overcrowding rules. It is not acceptable to advertise the property for a certain number of tenants just to comply with a landlord's preference for no children or smaller families.

  • Provide their staff with advice on these rules.

  • Keep clear and full written records of instructions from landlords and applications from renters. See paragraph 1h of the Code of Practice.

  • Record phone calls when possible to do so and as long as this is in line with data protection laws (GDPR).

  • Provide renters with a clear written reason if their application to rent a property is refused. See paragraph 1d of the Code of Practice.

Complain on the TPO website

Use the online complaint form.

It takes about 15 minutes to complete.

You need to upload copies of any supporting evidence when you submit the form.

The TPO's live chat service can help with the online form.

The guidance below has been written in partnership with the Property Ombudsman (TPO).

It can help you provide the most important information on your complaint form.

About your complaint

The online form asks for up to 6 specific complaints.

Write 'No kids' discrimination as a title for each specific complaint.

You could write something like this to summarise your complaint

I believe I have been unfairly discriminated against by this agent.

They refused to consider my application to rent a property that was suitable and affordable just because I have children.

I believe the agent's refusal to consider my application is in breach of paragraphs 1d, 1e and 2a of the TPO's Code of Practice for Residential Letting Agents 2019.

What would resolve your dispute with the agent?

In this part of the form you need to make it clear what you would like the agent to do.

You could write something like this

I would like the agent to:

  • admit I have faced unfair treatment or indirect discrimination

  • offer me viewings and consider my application to rent a suitable property

  • compensate me for lost opportunity, distress, aggravation and inconvenience

  • provide staff training on indirect discrimination so they can advise landlords properly

  • ask landlords for proof if they say that their mortgage or insurance prevents lettings to families with children

Supporting evidence

Your formal complaint to the agent and their final response are the most important evidence.

You could also provide:

  • a copy of the original property advert

  • copies of correspondence including emails and texts

  • notes of any conversations in person or over the phone

Additional space

Use this section to provide further details of how the agent's treatment affected you.

For example, you could explain:

  • how the refusal of a viewing or a tenancy made you feel

  • if it cost you money or caused ongoing housing problems for you and your family

Remember to upload evidence of the costs or the TPO cannot consider this.

What to expect from the process

It's free. You will not usually have to go to a hearing.

The TPO:

It can take up to 3 months

If your complaint is upheld, the TPO could tell the agent to:

  • train their staff

  • change their processes

  • apologise or pay compensation

Compensation is usually less than £500.

Find out about the complaint review process on the Property Ombudsman website.

Last updated: 7 March 2023

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