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, housing benefit, disability benefits or tax credits.

This could include when agents:

  • refuse to let you view an affordable property

  • will not 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 will not always work but it gives the agent a chance to put things right.

We have 2 letter templates you can use:

  1. Request a viewing if you've been turned down

  2. Formal complaint about 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 letting agents carry out affordability and referencing checks before they offer a tenancy. They should not insist on these checks just for a viewing.

The agent must not use external referencing companies that automatically exclude people on benefits or ignore income from benefits.

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

What if a landlord does not accept tenants on benefits?

Letting agents cannot say it's the landlord's choice to refuse tenants on benefits.

Agents must not take instructions to discriminate when renting out properties.

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

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

Most mortgage lenders and many insurance companies have dropped these restrictions because they are likely to be unenforceable.

The agent should ask the landlord for evidence if a landlord says their mortgage lender or insurance company will not allow them to rent to people who get benefits.

The courts have found that 'no DSS' policies indirectly discriminate.

Last updated: 5 June 2022

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