Letting adverts that discriminate against tenants on housing benefit could be banned

Ministers in England are set to meet representatives of landlord associations, tenant groups, property websites and mortgage providers in a bid to clamp down on discrimination against people on housing benefit in the private rented sector.

Housing Minister Heather Wheeler said that adverts which specify that a home will not be rented to people on housing benefit could be banned and she called on landlords and letting agents to stop saying No to DSS claimants.

She pointed out that out of 4.5 million households living in private rental accommodation, 889,000 receive housing benefit to help pay their rent. Yet the latest figures show around half of landlords said they would not be willing to let to tenants on Housing Benefit.

‘I will be meeting key stakeholders to tackle the practice of No DSS, to underline the need for immediate change,’ Wheeler confirmed.

Justin Tomlinson, Minister for Family Support, Housing and Child Maintenance, said that everyone should have the same opportunity when looking for a home, regardless of whether they are in receipt of benefits.

‘With Universal Credit, payments can be paid directly to the landlord, and we continue to listen to feedback and work with landlords to improve the system. Landlords can already receive rent from tenants on Housing Benefit and Universal Credit, meaning payments can be paid directly into their accounts,’ he pointed out.

Wheeler also announced that some £19.5 million is to be provided to local authorities in England to provide homes for people at risk of losing their or who are already homeless, it has been announced.

Wheeler said that it will help people to get into the rented sector and the funding will go to 54 projects around the country. Councils will use the funding boost to help vulnerable people secure their own tenancy through support such as, paying deposits or putting down the first months’ rent and Wheeler said that this should give them an opportunity to make a home in a property they may otherwise not have been able to access.

‘I want everyone to have the security, dignity and opportunities they need to build a better life and at the heart of which is ensuring everyone can find a safe and secure home to call their own,’ said Wheeler.

‘This funding will make a huge difference in opening up the private rented sector to people who need it and give them the chance to rebuild their lives. This helps strengthen the choices and opportunities available for those on benefits to secure the homes they and their families need,’ she added.

In a third move, local authorities can now also bid for a share of up to £26 million of Rapid Rehousing Pathway funding for 2019 to 2020. This extra investment can be used to fund innovative local schemes which help those sleeping rough and struggling with mental health problems or substance misuse issues.

The Private Rented Sector Access Fund will also support minimum tenancies or existing tenancies for a period of 12 months.