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How to challenge DSS discrimination

Complain to the Property Ombudsman (TPO)

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

You can only complain to the Property Ombudsman (TPO) if the agent is a TPO member.

If the agent is not a TPO member, ask the Property Redress Scheme to look at your complaint.

When you can complain

First you must complain direct to the agent.

You can contact the Ombudsman if either:

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

  • you do not get a final response within 8 weeks of your complaint

You have 1 year from when you get the agent's final response to contact the Ombudsman.

What to expect from the process

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

An adjudicator looks at the information provided by you and the agent.

The adjudicator will decide if the agent has broken the TPO Code of Practice for Residential Letting Agents.

It usually takes up to 3 months to review your complaint. The Ombudsman will let you know if it's likely to take longer than this.

The Ombudsman could tell the agent to:

  • provide staff training

  • change their processes

  • apologise or pay compensation

Compensation is usually less than £500.

How to complain online

Use the form on the Property Ombudsman (TPO) website.

It takes about 15 minutes to complete.

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

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

Read the guidance below before you complete the complaint form.

It has been written in partnership with the Property Ombudsman to help you provide the most important information for the adjudicator when they look at your complaint.

About your complaint

The form asks you to list up to 6 specific complaints. For each complaint write DSS discrimination as a title so it's clear what the complaint relates to.

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 for me just because I receive benefits.

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

What would resolve your dispute with the agent?

In this box 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 that I have faced unfair treatment or indirect discrimination

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

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

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

  • ask landlords for proof if they say that their mortgage or insurance prevents lettings to tenants on benefits

Supporting evidence

This section is very important because the person who looks at the complaint needs the supporting evidence to help them make a decision.

The most important documents to upload are your complaint letters and the final response from the agent.

You can also upload:

  • a copy of the original property advert

  • notes of any conversations in person or over the phone

  • copies of all correspondence including emails and texts

Additional space

Use this section to provide further detail 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 adjudicator will not be able to consider this.

What happens next

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

Last updated: 11 September 2022

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