At least one in 10 rental properties in England are likely to be advertised unlawfully by explicitly discriminating against people who rely on housing benefit, new research from the National Housing Federation and Shelter shows.
The analysis of around 86,000 letting agent adverts on Zoopla shows that 8,710 adverts for different residential properties in England say ‘no DSS’ or ‘no housing benefit’.
A shortage of social housing and high house prices have led to rapidly growing numbers of people having to rent privately and depend on housing benefit. There are now more than 1.4 million people in this situation in England. Women and people with disabilities are disproportionately in this situation and therefore affected by discrimination. Indirectly discriminating against woman and people with disabilities, by banning people on housing benefit, is likely to violate the 2010 Equality Act.
The analysis from the two housing charities reveals the discrimination is far more prevalent in some parts of the country:
Top 10 worst areas
|Area||Percentage of adverts that said ‘No DSS’|
|Weston Super Mare||29%|
|Oldham & Rochdale||29%|
|Thameside & Glossop||29%|
|Wolds & Coast||27%|
Worryingly, these explicitly discriminatory adverts are only the tip of the iceberg. Many other adverts imply that DSS is not accepted by saying ‘professionals only’. Previous research from Shelter and the National Housing Federation revealed how many housing benefit tenants are rejected by letting agents over the phone, regardless of whether they can afford the rent or not.
Zoopla are not the only online property platform to facilitate this potentially unlawful practice. Previous research has found numerous discriminatory adverts across all major property platforms including RightMove, SpareRoom.com and OpenRent.