Zoopla is removing ‘No DSS’ wording in rental listings in an effort to help stop blanket restrictions on renters who receive housing benefit.
The decision supports the recommendations from the National Landlords Association (NLA) and Residential Landlord’s Association (RLA) and has been backed by homeless housing charity Shelter.
Technical measures will be implemented in the coming weeks to remove ‘No DSS’ references from new and existing listings on the website.
The acronym DSS refers to the disbanded Department of Social Security. It has previously been included in advertising listings to deter potential tenants from applying for a rental property because the landlord cannot, or will not, let to those in receipt of benefits.
According to the RLA, two-thirds of the largest buy-to-let lenders lenders decline mortgages to buy-to-let landlords if their tenants are on housing benefit. NatWest Bank has said it will now drop these restrictions, joining Nationwide who are already against the policy.
Of the 4.5million in rental accommodation, around 889,000 in England receive housing benefit to help pay their rent. The National Housing Federation and Shelter found that one in 10 agents in England refused to let to DSS tenants. It is not unlawful for landlords to refuse people on benefits, but Shelter had said that it is likely to contravene the Equality Act.
Zoopla 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.”
RLA vice chair Chris Town added: “Landlords should not refuse someone solely because they are on benefits and should consider prospective tenants on a case-by-case basis.
“But with growing numbers of benefit claimants now reliant on the private rented sector we need to do more to give tenants and landlords greater confidence in the benefits system.
“This means building on positive changes already made by the government by giving all tenants the right to choose if they want to have the housing element of Universal Credit paid directly to their landlord, working with bank lenders to remove mortgage terms that prevent landlords renting to benefit claimants as NatWest has already done, and ending the Local Housing Allowance freeze which has meant benefits bear little resemblance to rents.”