How to challenge DSS discrimination

Complain to an agent with our template letters

We have 2 template letters that:

  • set out the law on DSS discrimination

  • call out unnecessary processes used by some agents

You can change the letters to fit your situation.

You might find them easier to use at a desktop or laptop computer.

Once you're done, you can attach to an email and send to the agent.

Template 1: Ask the agent to reconsider

Download this template letter if you're refused a viewing or application for an affordable property just because you get benefits.

Template 2: Make a formal complaint

Download this template letter to make a formal complaint about DSS discrimination.

Give us feedback: tell us if you found the template useful so we can improve it.

What happens after you complain

You should allow the agent time to acknowledge, investigate and respond to your complaint.

If the agent wants more information

The agent might ask for more information depending on what you've already provided.

Find out how to show you can afford the rent.

If you've made a formal complaint

You should get an acknowledgement of your complaint within 3 working days and a full response within 15 working days.

If you're satisfied with the agent's response

Your complaint could be resolved quickly and you shouldn't need to take further action.

For example, if you're offered a viewing or a tenancy, or an apology and promise to deal with future applications properly.

When you can take your complaint further

There are 2 independent organisations that look at customer complaints about agents:

  • the Property Ombudsman (TPO)

  • the Property Redress Scheme

The agent must display the name of the scheme they belong to in their offices and on their website. The council can fine agents up to £5000 if they are not a member of either scheme.

If the agent fails to respond within 3 weeks

You can contact the scheme the agent belongs to if the agent ignores your letter or fails to provide a full response within 15 working days.

The scheme may just remind the agent to follow their complaints process at this stage. The agent still has up to 8 weeks to provide a final response.

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

You can escalate your complaint if you receive a final response from the agent that you're not happy with. Check it is the agent's final response before you escalate your complaint.

If the agent fails to provide a final response within 8 weeks

You can escalate your complaint if you don't get a final response within 8 weeks.

The Property Ombudsman (TPO) has warned its members that DSS discrimination is unlawful. They will investigate complaints of DSS discrimination. The Ombudsman has worked with Shelter to provide guidance to help you make your complaint.

Last updated: 1 December 2021

If you need to talk to someone, we'll do our best to help

Get help