There is no "rational explanation" for landlords discriminating against benefits claimants, a spokesman for leading homelessness charity Shelter said today.
An investigation by Shelter and the National Housing Federation revealed that one in 10 properties advertised on Zoopla explicitly ruled out anyone claiming benefits by stating ‘No DSS’ in reference to the now defunct Department of Social Security.
Greg Beale, the director of campaigns at Shelter, said there was "no evidence" that people receiving benefits were "less-good tenants".
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“I think we’ve got a bit used to the idea that you can treat people when they’re receiving benefits differently and second-class in some way," Mr Beale told talkRADIO's Julia Hartley-Brewer.
“Because housing benefits recipients are much more likely to be women, they’re much more likely to be single parents, and they’re much more likely to be people with disabilities, that means a blanket policy or practice that says we’re not going to let this property to somebody on housing benefits is likely to be unlawful.”
According to DWP statistics, 60 per cent of all housing benefits claimants, and 95 per cent of single parents claiming housing benefits, are women.
'Tip of the iceberg'
Mr Beale said that while the adverts explicitly excluding housing claimants were shocking, they were just the “tip of the iceberg”.
He said: “Our experience is that when people receiving benefits then phone up to rent a flat, even if it’s not advertised in that way, many are turned away as soon as the letting agent hears that they are somebody who is relying on benefits for part of their income.”
The investigation discovered that landlords were almost twice as likely to reply positively to a tenant not claiming housing benefits than one who admitted to receiving benefits.
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Mr Beale said in response to the investigation Zoopla has written to all landlords on the site, condemning discriminatory listings, and he urged all landlords to bring an end to ‘No DSS’ advertising.
“What we say is, use the things that are allowed - look at somebody’s references, look at whether they’re a good tenant, look at their history of paying and make an assessment about the individual rather than taking a blanket approach about everyone receiving benefits," he said.