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  • LHA/Universal Credit

    Zoopla to ban phrase "No DSS" in listings

    People receiving housing benefit can no longer be barred from renting properties advertised on one of the UK's largest listing sites.

    Zoopla says it will prohibit landlords posting "No DSS" ads, a commonly-used acronym of the now defunct Department of Social Security.

    The National Housing Federation and Shelter found that one in 10 agents in England refused to let to DSS tenants.

    The BBC found the policy was enforced even if tenants could afford the rent.

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-47567568

    Agents will be barred from using it in listings by a change in terms and conditions.

    Zoopla said it will have its ban fully in place next month.

    Managing director Charlie Bryant said: “We fully support the recommendations of the NLA and the RLA, which oppose blanket bans against tenants in receipt of housing-related benefits, and are pleased to be taking action which clarifies this position.

    “All tenants who are looking to rent a property deserve the chance to be fully assessed for their suitability and matched to a home that suits both their and the landlord’s circumstances.

    “We proactively sought the views of our largest lettings-focused agents to ensure the above measures were undertaken on a collaborative basis and received significant support in respect of our proposed additional measures.”

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    Learn Change and Adapt ?????

    All comments are for casual information purposes only. If you wish to rely on any advice I have given please ensure you obtain independent specialist advice from a third party. No liability is accepted for comments made.

    I don`t discriminate against DSS because they are DSS .  I have lots of tenants who are DSS

    I discriminate against people who I dont think can  afford to rent my property

    But by not being allowed to say No DSS in your adverts doesnt fix the problem one bit

    All this does is waste the callers time and the recipients time

    Those LL`s who decide not to take DSS will block the application on other perfectly legitimate criteria

    The Gov  should tackle the root reasons as to why DSS are not welcomed by many landlords

    Then and only then will the situation be anywhere near resolved

    Its like not being able to advertise  - Top of Everest Mountain Climbs  - No Under 5`s allowed

    Some things are just not suitable for some people

    People legally discriminate every single day ..

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    Jonathan Clarke. http://www.buytoletmk.com

    " The Gov  should tackle the root reasons as to why DSS are not welcomed by many landlords "

    The Gov don't like to look at the root reasons problems happen, as it would usually mean them having to admit their mistakes.

    Much easier to go for the end result of the root reasons, in this case, LL's.

    As you've mentioned, there will be other ways of achieving the same result for LL's who don't want to get involved, so as you say, it achieves nothing but is another box ticked that the Gov is listening/cares.

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    The Department of Social Security changed to the Department of Work and Pensions in 2001, so the terminology is completely out of date.

    Will listings be able to say "professionals only", I wonder?

    Of course, the elephant in the room is that most lenders have a clause in a BTL mortgage contract saying that the property cannot be let to tenants in receipt of benefits and also many insurers will not provide insurance or RGI for this tenant demographic.

    The Commons Select Committee looking into this matter released this up-date yesterday:

    In November, the Committee published correspondence with Natwest, when its lending practices came under scrutiny over the case of a landlord refused a re-mortgage - in fact threatened with revocation of the existing mortgage on the property - because she was renting the property to a tenant in receipt of housing benefit: Government must address housing “blacklist” created by lenders’ “no DSS” policy.

    In January, the Committee wrote to mortgage lenders, insurers, property agents and property ad sites with questions about how their policies end up treating people who are trying to rent a home and in receipt of a benefit.

    Following Natwest’s announced change, on March 15 Zoopla announced “changes to end ‘No DSS’ wording in rental adverts”, which they described as “Zoopla, the owner of multiple leading property-related websites, software and databases, will launch additional measures over coming weeks in support of further minimising blanket restrictions which apply to renters who receive housing benefit.”

    The Committee will return to the commitments made by Natwest and Zoopla when it hears oral evidence with lenders, landlords, agents and benefit recipients. Natwest and Co-op Banks, Kensington Mortgages, Nationwide building society; Shepherd’s Bush Housing Group, Hunters and YourMove estate agents and OpenRent ad platform were invited to attend Parliament to give evidence on their policies, and the Committee will also hear from a panel of benefit claimants and private landlords. Full details will be published soon. The Committee has postponed the session originally scheduled for 20 March 2019. A new date will be announced as soon as possible.

    We opened an online survey because we’d like to hear from more benefit claimants who’ve had problems finding a place to rent or problems with their landlords. If you or anyone you know has been affected by this, please tell us here.

    In January the Committee asked Natwest, and a series of other mortgage lenders, whether their buy-to-let mortgage policy allow landlords to let to tenants receiving housing benefit, or any benefit.  It also asked the lenders whether they are satisfied any restrictions they place on buy-to-let landlords would not inadvertently amount to unlawful discrimination against benefit recipients.

    The Committee wrote to four property advertising platforms - Open Rent, Rightmove, Zoopla, and On the Market – about reports of the continued presence of “No DSS adverts” on their platforms: Read the letter.

    And property agents like Hunters were asked, of the total rental properties they have available in the UK right now, how many are available to recipients of any kind of benefit: Read the letter.

    The companies that insure landlords  - and their representative ABI - have been asked whether any conditions insurers impose could indirectly have the same effect of discriminating against benefit claimants. Read the letter.

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    My own feeling are the govt policy have not helped DHSS customers - benefits freeze when rents are rising and stopping direct payment

    I have taken  working UC customers in the past two months but they had good credit checks and a home owner guarantor behind them and they paid two months rent in advance

    I don’t charge a fee and I don’t take deposits

    It's all down to good management and getting rid of risk and affordability of the customer.

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    Learn Change and Adapt ?????

    All comments are for casual information purposes only. If you wish to rely on any advice I have given please ensure you obtain independent specialist advice from a third party. No liability is accepted for comments made.

    Its probably worth pointing out for resident landlords that Schedule 5 of the Equality Act 2010 provides an exemption on all protected characteristics other than race, however it still does not allow discrimination to be advertised.

    https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2010/15/schedule/5

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    My LL's will only rent to people when they know they will get the rent when they should and without spending hours chasing things.  Under UC this is far from certain and so we only take benefits tenants who have a guarantor.  I had a case this week where the tenant moved from lHA to UC 3 months ago, the rent stopped and we have no way of finding out what is going on. The tenant is trying hard to sort things, she has made numerous very long phone calls from our office so we know what she had been through, but has got nowhere either.  We have completed the UC47 but still we have no money and more importantly no information.

    As both a LL and an agent, it simply cannot go on like this.  I can't spend hours every week on the phone chasing rent payments as someone has to pay for my staff's time.  If the Government want us to accept benefits tenants then they need to get the systems in place to support the tenants and the LL. 

    Shelter et al can shout all they want but it is the politicians who put us in this position.  A LL just wants a decent tenant who pays the rent.  If the LHA and UC systems can deliver this why penalise LL?  Without surety of payments in a decent timescale, and as the system currently stands that is not guaranteed, why would anyone in their right mind take a on tenant on benefits?

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    Andrew McCausland

    Hamilton Square Estates Ltd

    Wirral Property Group Ltd

    Sourcing and renovating investment property since 1994


    So instead of "no DSS" we'll get "guarantor may be required" instead?

    Simples!

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    Exactly Adam - eg "DSS with home owner Guarantor welcome".

    That serves to "manage tenants' expectations".

    Many benefit tenants will not be able to find a Guarantor so they will need to make some other arrangements - eg find a landlord willing to entertain benefit claimants.

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    What about the HB tenants who can afford the rent you require but cannot provide a guarantor? Case in point, I am a 45 year old man with no family or friends, but genuinely very keen to move. Where does that leave people like me?

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    Hi Darius - I am confused when you say you can afford the Rent - but are claiming HB ie LHA.

    Do you mean that you are able to make up the rent shortfall from other income - noting that capped/frozen LHA is below private rent level for self contained rentals in London/SE?

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