No DSS' letting bans 'ruled unlawful' by court

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  • Berlingogirl
    replied
    Originally posted by Ted.E.Bear View Post
    If you mean is it discriminatory to charge a different rate for "DSS" instead of refusing, then probably - unless you can justify that it is reasonable.

    Will you charge someone claiming housing benefit but working 35 hours a week on an apprenticeship the lower rate?
    Will you charge people who work from home or do night shifts the higher rate?
    All you have to do is look at the different circumstances before deciding.
    No I won't charge extra for someone claiming HB but working 35 hours nor an apprentice on the lower rate because they'll be out of the house at work.
    Yes to people who work from home (to cover the extra utilities, although in around 25 years of letting rooms I've never once had an enquiry from a SE person/ working from home), and no to night shifts (I've not found that night shifters make much of a difference).

    Our local YMCA rent is around £106 pw and the people in there tend to be unemployed so I think the same would be appropriate for a home worker in my HMOs. My cheapest room, for comparison, is £75 pw and my most expensive room is £85 for a very large double.

    Leave a comment:


  • Jon66
    replied
    I also think there is a huge difference to taking on a tenant in receipt of HB or UC for a property costing 65k with a rent of 350 and a property costing 300k with a rent of 1100. In the north repairs are hugely cheaper than in the south east and property much more affordable whether renting or buying. In the south east the LHA rarely covers full rent and the risk is much greater with more to lose.

    Leave a comment:


  • JK0
    replied
    Agent should have thought up a different meaning for DSS. How about 'Dirty Student Slums'...

    'No your honour, it's nothing to do with not taking benefits. We are advertising that none of our properties are Dirty Student Slums, and using the popular initials for that.'

    Leave a comment:


  • tatemono
    replied
    Originally posted by Flashback1966 View Post
    I have had too many bad experiences with tenants on benefits. ​​​​​​
    Interesting. All of our tenants are on some kind of benefit and we haven't had any problems from any of them. In fact, the two that are on full benefits are the best of all.

    But, as with anything, past performance is no guarantee of future performance...

    Leave a comment:


  • AndrewDod
    replied
    The parents and guarantor question is interesting -- because that is rent potentially paid out of not-own-EARNED-income. As is housing benefit.

    Equality demands that I reject any tenant who can't afford to rent out of their own self-earned income.

    It obviously is not a trivial point. When the benefits tenant stops paying (despite having the income stream, but having spent it on other stuff) who am I going to sue? The benefits office?

    Having something to lose if sued is a pretty big checkmark in the tenancy vetting ticksheet. You look, you decide, you just don't advertise the criteria.

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  • Ted.E.Bear
    replied
    Originally posted by Berlingogirl View Post
    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?
    If you mean is it discriminatory to charge a different rate for "DSS" instead of refusing, then probably - unless you can justify that it is reasonable.

    Will you charge someone claiming housing benefit but working 35 hours a week on an apprenticeship the lower rate?
    Will you charge people who work from home or do night shifts the higher rate?
    All you have to do is look at the different circumstances before deciding.

    Leave a comment:


  • jpkeates
    replied
    Originally posted by boletus View Post
    Thanks for the explanation.
    I find it odd there is no mention of a settlement offer in your earlier link.
    The detail wasn't originally there.
    There's no mention of a settlement offer (only pre-action communication).
    I only assume that they must have tried to make some kind of attempt not to go to court - it's possible they didn't.
    Once they realised Shelter were involved, they must have expected to lose.

    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).
    They might have done, it's not a very high settlement, but the costs might be a bit steep.

    One last query, do you think that is the full declaration or just the edited highlights they want us to see?
    This is the declaration - http://431bj62hscf91kqmgj258yg6-wpen...ourt-Order.pdf

    The names are missing (which is odd because the claimant has made public statements and has been named) and there's nothing in the section heading Conclusion.
    But there doesn't seem to be anything to add as a conclusion, so it may be complete.

    Leave a comment:


  • jpkeates
    replied
    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.

    Leave a comment:


  • boletus
    replied
    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?

    Leave a comment:


  • Berlingogirl
    replied
    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?

    Leave a comment:


  • jpkeates
    replied
    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.

    Leave a comment:


  • jpkeates
    replied
    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.

    Leave a comment:


  • boletus
    replied
    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.)

    Leave a comment:


  • Ted.E.Bear
    replied
    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!


    Leave a comment:


  • boletus
    replied


    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.

    Leave a comment:

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