How to challenge DSS discrimination

What is a no DSS policy?

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', 'no benefits' or 'working professionals only'

When to complain

A complaint letter won't always work but it gives the agent a chance to put things right.

We have 2 templates you can use. One asks the agent to reconsider and the other is a more formal complaint letter.

Our template letters sets out the law on DSS discrimination.

It's likely to be DSS discrimination if a property is affordable, but the agent makes assumptions about your suitability or ability to pay just because you get benefits.

What checks can an agent do?

You need to show you can afford the rent.

Many agents carry out affordability and referencing checks before they will offer a tenancy. These checks should not be needed just for a viewing.

It's likely to be DSS discrimination if you're told that you will automatically fail these checks because you're on benefits.

The agent must not use external referencing companies who automatically exclude people on benefits or who do not take into account income from benefits.

A credit check could be an unnecessary process if you can pass an affordability check.

What if a landlord won't allow tenants on benefits?

It's not a legal excuse to say that it's the landlord's choice not to rent to tenants on benefits. Agents are not allowed to take an instruction to discriminate when letting properties.

If you're dealing directly with the landlord, you can't always challenge DSS discrimination because private landlords are not regulated in the same way as agents.

What if a landlord says there are mortgage or insurance restrictions?

If a landlord says their mortgage lender or insurance company won't allow them to rent to people who get benefits, the agent should ask the landlord for evidence of this.

Insurance or mortgage contracts that prevent landlords from renting to people on benefits may be unenforceable as the courts have found that no DSS policies indirectly discriminate.

Most mortgage lenders have dropped these types of restrictions.

Many insurance companies offer landlord insurance covering lettings to tenants on benefits.

Last updated: 14 November 2021

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