No DSS' letting bans 'ruled unlawful' by court

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    #61
    Originally posted by boletus View Post

    I'm not convinced it is not a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim. A decent lawyer could come up with a dozen reasons.

    Nothing was decided in this case as no defence was entered.
    While that is true, I strongly suspect that the defence was not entered because counsel thought that it had no hope of success.

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      #62
      Originally posted by boletus View Post
      I'm not convinced it is not a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim. A decent lawyer could come up with a dozen reasons.

      Nothing was decided in this case as no defence was entered.
      You'd have to come up with a reasonable justification for the policy, otherwise it's almost impossible for it to be "proportionate".
      And I can't think of a reasonable justification for a letting agent refusing to accept applications from people on benefits as a policy.
      When I post, I am expressing an opinion - feel free to disagree, I have been wrong before.
      Please don't act on my suggestions without checking with a grown-up (ideally some kind of expert).

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        #63
        Originally posted by Ted.E.Bear View Post
        While that is true, I strongly suspect that the defence was not entered because counsel thought that it had no hope of success.
        Which raises the question, why on earth did it get to court?

        (As to 'no hope of success', if I was the defendant against a non-profit multi-million pound organisation determined to appeal any judgement to the highest court and beyond, I'd confess to grave robbing and necrophilia for an easy couple of grand settlement.)

        Comment


          #64
          Originally posted by jpkeates View Post
          I can't think of a reasonable justification for a letting agent refusing to accept applications from people on benefits as a policy.
          I bet you could if you applied yourself. And you've sneaked 'letting agent' into the criteria which was not part of Ted's original statement.

          Here's a starter;
          Unreliable source of income. Backed up with the solid, consistent stats of routinely late payments, suspended claims and plain incompetence of the benefit system.

          Comment


            #65
            Originally posted by boletus View Post
            Which raises the question, why on earth did it get to court?
            Shelter kept looking until they found someone who agreed not to settle for any reason?
            Originally posted by boletus View Post
            Here's a starter; Unreliable source of income, backed up with the solid stats of late, suspended payments and plain incompetence of the benefit system
            Most people on benefits are working (as was the complainant here) and there are no stats that show that people on benefits pay late or miss payments more than anyone else.
            So it's not only not reasonable, it might actually support a claim of prejudice.

            If there were stats to back that up, it might be reasonable.
            But the "large letting agent" obviously didn't, otherwise it would have had a great defence.

            It isn't a problem if a concern about late and suspended payments (because the benefits system is definitely incompetant) is something that can be overcome.
            The prospective tenant had been renting for years and had good references which might have reassured the agent, but they refused to even consider the application.
            Which is pretty much the dictionary definition of prejudice.

            Nearly legal points out that a landlord with a mortgage where the lender wouldn't allow tenants on benefits might have a defence to a no benefits policy, because that would be proportionate and legitimate.
            When I post, I am expressing an opinion - feel free to disagree, I have been wrong before.
            Please don't act on my suggestions without checking with a grown-up (ideally some kind of expert).

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              #66
              Originally posted by jpkeates View Post
              Shelter kept looking until they found someone who agreed not to settle for any reason?
              What? So they were determined to fight it and then offered no defence. It doesn't add up.

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                #67
                "No DSS" isn't about the paying of rent alone. If something goes wrong, such as my poor bungalow that I got back in a disgusting state from a tenant totally reliant on benefits there's not much chance of the tenant paying for damage etc. I've got no realistic chance of being reimbursed the thousands of pounds I spent on returning it to a decent home, whereas if the tenant had been employed I would have been able to even it I needed an AoE.

                Comment


                  #68


                  Originally posted by jpkeates View Post
                  Most people on benefits are working (as was the complainant here) and there are no stats that show that people on benefits pay late or miss payments more than anyone else.
                  So it's not only not reasonable, it might actually support a claim of prejudice.

                  If there were stats to back that up, it might be reasonable.

                  It isn't a problem if a concern about late and suspended payments (because the benefits system is definitely incompetant) is something that can be overcome.


                  There are stats that show people on benefits pay late or miss payments more than working employed professionals. I'm sure most long term landlords and letting agents who rent to both would confirm it from personal experience. But that was not the defence.


                  Erratic and unreliable source of income seems a great defence to me, clearly you disagree.


                  But the "large letting agent" obviously didn't, otherwise it would have had a great defence.

                  See post #63

                  Moving on.

                  RGI. No reputable established company offers Rent Guarantee and Legal Insurance for DSS tenants. Only taking on tenants who qualify is a proportionate means of lowering business risk.

                  Comment


                    #69
                    Originally posted by boletus View Post
                    Here's a starter;
                    Unreliable source of income. Backed up with the solid, consistent stats of routinely late payments, suspended claims and plain incompetence of the benefit system.
                    Which can be refuted in the right circumstances. If you have a tenant, on benefits, perhaps with wealthy parents, who can demonstrate having paid rent always on time for the last 20 years, then I don't think you can say they have an unreliable source of income - particularly if they have the sort of disability that even Capita will accept won't change.
                    As we have seen a lot, having a job isn't necessarily a more reliable source of income either!
                    But, unless someone goes to court with that argument, we will never know. It's just so much easier to at least appear to consider the applications!


                    Comment


                      #70
                      Originally posted by Ted.E.Bear View Post
                      Which can be refuted in the right circumstances. If you have a tenant, on benefits, perhaps with wealthy parents...
                      Which means a guarantor agreement, which opens a whole new can of worms. I doubt even Shelter would class refusing to accept any tenants requiring a guarantor is discrimination.

                      (Not saying it's not a good business idea, just in the context of this discrimination discussion. I have a DSS tenant in those circumstances.)

                      Comment


                        #71
                        Originally posted by boletus View Post
                        What? So they were determined to fight it and then offered no defence. It doesn't add up.
                        Previous attempts to get this decision into court have always failed because. eventually, the claimant accepted an out of court settlement.

                        But if the claimant just won't accept anything other than their day in court, they're entitled to that day.
                        Moreover, the claimant was asking for a declaration (which is a public statement of the basis on which the court has made a decision), damages, interest, and costs, not just damages and costs - the declaration is an essential element of what's being claimed.

                        So the agent was unable to stop the issue going to court (assuming they tried, which I think they must have done), but once it was in court, they'd either have to argue that the declaration was unnecessary (which would be difficult in the circumstances) or suck it up.

                        So I'd guess they agreed to the declaration in the hope that the damages would be reasonable (they were £3,500 - which isn't the end of the world).

                        The case looks to be entirely driven by Shelter - all of the data used to establish that women and disabled people are materially more affected because they are significantly more likely to receive housing benefit comes from them.

                        However, it does appear that the No DSS ruling is discrimination is (at least currently) limited to housing benefits, rather than to people being in receipt of benefits generally.
                        And, as noted, isn't really a precedent at all - but is going to be treated as one.
                        When I post, I am expressing an opinion - feel free to disagree, I have been wrong before.
                        Please don't act on my suggestions without checking with a grown-up (ideally some kind of expert).

                        Comment


                          #72
                          Originally posted by boletus View Post
                          RGI. No reputable established company offers Rent Guarantee and Legal Insurance for DSS tenants. Only taking on tenants who qualify is a proportionate means of lowering business risk.
                          That's a good one!

                          Two thoughts:
                          If you have a policy that every let must have RGI and RGI excludes people on housing benefit, that's probably still indirect discrimination.

                          The sellers of RGI are possibly directly discriminating as a result of the reasoning in this case. If a policy that disadvantages people who receive housing benefit is illegally discriminatory because that disproportionally disadvantages women and handicapped people that would seem to apply to RGI policies.
                          When I post, I am expressing an opinion - feel free to disagree, I have been wrong before.
                          Please don't act on my suggestions without checking with a grown-up (ideally some kind of expert).

                          Comment


                            #73
                            I wonder if "No DSS" applies to a room in a HMO? My room rate is based on people being at work all day and no heating on, but a person who is unemployed will be in all day potentially with the heating on 24/7 and therefore the cost of renting to them is higher. If I charged two different rates would this be discriminatory?

                            Comment


                              #74
                              Originally posted by jpkeates View Post
                              So the agent was unable to stop the issue going to court (assuming they tried, which I think they must have done)
                              Thanks for the explanation.
                              I find it odd there is no mention of a settlement offer in your earlier link.
                              If I wasn't going to bother defending, I'd have been bleating to the judge that I'd already offered them £3000 (the out of court settlement in the 'Amanda' case).

                              One last query, do you think that is the full declaration or just the edited highlights they want us to see?

                              Comment


                                #75
                                Being unemployed isn't a protected category, so you'd be running the risk of some judgement like the No DSS one, where you were found to be indirectly discriminating against a protected characteristic because women (for example) were more likely to be unemployed than men (and I have no idea if that's the case or not).

                                More realistically, who would bother to support such a case.
                                Shelter has been campaigning for years to find a way to make benefits recipients a protected class of people for housing law purposes.
                                I can't see an unemployed person going the distance.
                                When I post, I am expressing an opinion - feel free to disagree, I have been wrong before.
                                Please don't act on my suggestions without checking with a grown-up (ideally some kind of expert).

                                Comment

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