How to challenge DSS discrimination

Show you can afford the rent

Agents should not assume that you can't afford the rent just because you get benefits.

Most agents will check that you can:

  • pay the advertised rent

  • meet up front costs such as a deposit

Always answer questions about your income honestly.

Check your local housing allowance (LHA) rate

LHA rates are used to work out universal credit or housing benefit for private tenants.

Your LHA rate is a starting figure used to calculate the help you get with rent.

You may get less than your LHA rate if you're working or have other income.

How to check your local housing allowance (LHA) rate

Provide information about other income

Explain how you can make up any shortfall between the rent and your local housing allowance. For example, from wages, other benefits or child maintenance.

If you already pay a similar or higher rent while claiming benefits, provide bank statements and references to show a good history of rent payments.

Offer rent in advance

Offer 2 months' rent in advance if you can. This should be enough to cover the time that you wait for a benefit to be processed or changed.

Some landlords worry that tenants will be late with rent because benefits are paid in arrears. Explain that your benefit is paid monthly so you can still pay your rent on time each month.

Affordability and credit checks

You may be asked to pass an affordability or credit check. Agents can't charge for this.

It is likely to be DSS discrimination if you're told that you will automatically fail a check because you get benefits.

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

Can the agent insist on a guarantor?

Many agents do ask for guarantors and it can help if you have one.

But it's not a legal requirement that tenants claiming benefits must provide a guarantor.

If you can afford the rent, it could be unnecessary or bad practice to refuse to offer you a tenancy just because you don't have a guarantor.

Keep a record 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 speak to an agent in person or on the phone, note down their name and what was said as soon as you can.

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

Last updated: 18 October 2021

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