How to challenge DSS discrimination

Make a complaint to the Property Ombudsman (TPO)

What is the Property Ombudsman?

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

The Ombudsman has agreed to investigate complaints of DSS discrimination.

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

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

When you can complain

You can contact the Ombudsman if you've already complained to the agent and either:

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

  • you don't get a final response within 8 weeks of your complaint

You have a year from when you receive the agent's final response to escalate your complaint to the Ombudsman.

You can also complain if you don't get any response within 15 working days but the Ombudsman may just remind the agent that they must follow the complaints process and provide a response. The agent still has up to 8 weeks to provide a final response.

What to expect from the process

It's free. You won't usually have to go to a hearing.

Someone called an adjudicator looks at the evidence provided by you and the agent.

The adjudicator will consider whether the agent has breached the TPO Code of Practice for Residential Letting Agents.

It can take several months for the Ombudsman to review your complaint. They will let you know if it's likely to take longer than 3 months to reach a decision.

The Ombudsman could tell the agent to make a formal apology, change their processes or pay compensation. Compensation through the Ombudsman is usually less than £500.

How to complain online

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

It's easy to check the agent is a TPO member before you start.

It takes about 15 minutes to complete.

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

You can use the live chat service on the TPO website if you need help.

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.

You should upload:

  • a copy of the original property advert

  • copies of all correspondence including emails and texts

  • notes of any conversations in person or over the phone

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

Additional space

You can use this section to provide further detail of how the agent's treatment affected you so the person looking at the complaint understands this.

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 won't be able to consider this.

What happens next

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

Last updated: 26 August 2021

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