Discrimination against benefits claimants

A 'no DSS' policy is when an agent or landlord refuses to rent to anyone who gets universal credit or housing benefit.

This could include when agents or landlords:

  • 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'
  • using affordability or referencing checks that automatically fail benefit recipients
  • by systematically favouring non-benefit claimants when assessing tenancy applications
  • by demanding guarantors when a prospective tenant’s income (be it from benefits or employment) is sufficient, etc.

In 2020 the courts in York ruled that 'No DSS' policies are unlawful because they indirectly discriminate against women and disabled people.

The ruling of indirect discrimination is due to the fact that women and those with disabilities are disproportionately more likely to be in receipt of housing benefit, and therefore disproportionately affected by blanket 'No DSS' bans.

You can complain to the landlord or agent if you believe you've faced DSS discrimination as you look for a home, regardless of your sex or disability. The housing campaign group Shelter provide helpful advice and template letters on the Shelter website.

Our Welfare Reform Team also look out for and follow up on reported cases of discrimination and the Private Sector Safety Team runs an accreditation scheme for landlords and agents so we can also check if they are accredited and investigate claims of discrimination.