How to challenge DSS discrimination

Find out what you can do if an agent refuses to rent to you just because you get benefits.

No DSS policies are unlawful discrimination

A 'no DSS' policy is when an agent refuses to rent to anyone who gets universal credit or housing benefit.

This could include when agents:

  • refuse to let you view an affordable property

  • won't consider you for a tenancy because you get benefits

  • advertise properties as 'no DSS' or 'working professionals only'

The courts have ruled that no DSS policies are unlawful because they indirectly discriminate against women and disabled people.

But you can complain to an agent or the Property Ombudsman about no DSS policies, regardless of your sex or disability.

What you can do about DSS discrimination

Take the following steps if you face DSS discrimination from agents while looking for a private rented home.

1. Keep records of your property search

Keep a record of agents' responses when you ask to view or rent a property.

Save emails or messages. If you have a verbal conversation, note down what was said and who you spoke to as soon as you can.

This can help later if you need evidence of what you were told.

2. Show the property is affordable

Agents can still check that you're able to pay the advertised rent for a property, as well as any up front costs.

You need to know your monthly income and your local housing allowance rate.

Our advice for private renters claiming benefits covers:

  • finding a landlord

  • showing you can afford the rent

  • deposits, rent in advance, guarantors and credit checks

3. Use our template letter to complain

You can use our template if you're refused a viewing or tenancy of an affordable property just because you're claiming benefits.

This includes situations where the agent gives an excuse for the refusal, for example:

  • you must have a guarantor because you're on benefits

  • you'll automatically fail affordability, referencing or credit checks

  • the landlord, mortgage lender or insurance company won't allow lettings to tenants on benefits

It's likely to be DSS discrimination if a property is affordable, but the agent makes assumptions about your ability to pay or your suitability as a tenant.

The template letter:

  • sets out the law on DSS discrimination

  • identifies unnecessary processes used by some agents

It must be changed to fit your personal situation. It's a Word document which can be attached to an email and sent to the agent.

You may find it easier to use the template at a desktop or laptop computer.

Download template letter: ask the agent to reconsider

Last updated: 25 November 2020

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