3 breakthroughs to help renters on benefits
3 breakthroughs to help renters on benefits

Prejudice against people on housing benefit is leaving renters with nowhere to turn. But thanks to your fantastic support, we’ve taken three big steps forward. 

People who rent in the UK often face unfair discrimination if they’re on benefits, which prevents hundreds of thousands of people living in homes they could otherwise afford, pushing them closer to homelessness. There’s no excuse for this, and even the most plausible defences of ‘No DSS’ are bogus.  

That’s why, in August 2018, we began our campaign to stop DSS discrimination. Here’s what we’ve achieved … Read more

My disabled daughter has had 14 different homes
My disabled daughter has had 14 different homes

I’m a single parent with three children. My 15 year old daughter Sasha is severely disabled. For the last 15 years I’ve been trying to secure her suitable accommodation – a property which is safe for her and gives her some independence through being adapted – but I’ve been unsuccessful.

We’ve also been constantly facing eviction from different private rental properties since 2016, for reasons that are out of our control. Last year we were living in a bungalow, and … Read more

Evicted for complaining about a gas leak
Evicted for complaining about a gas leak

Tom did his best to cooperate with his landlord’s ‘put up and shut up’ policy. But when he complained about a leaking gas oven, he found himself locked out and homeless.

Things had never been quite right with Tom’s shared house — far from it, in fact.  

His landlord blocked off access to the boiler and would leave the thermostat on such a low setting that the heating wouldn’t come on unless it was freezing.  

He also made a daily habit of coming to … Read more

How I challenged DSS discrimination
How I challenged DSS discrimination

A version of this blog was published on Huffington Post UK.

Guest blog by Philippa Lalor, a Shelter supporter and client

Almost one in three renters receiving housing benefit haven’t been able to apply for a place to live because of discriminatory ‘no DSS’ practices.

These range from a total ban on renting to people on benefits, to simply advertising a vast number of properties as ‘no DSS’.

As part of our campaign against DSS discrimination, Philippa successfully challenged discrimination … Read more

Zoopla bans DSS discrimination
Zoopla bans DSS discrimination

We’re celebrating another huge win in the fight to end DSS discrimination, as Zoopla announced that they are banning ‘no DSS’ adverts from their website!

Zoopla are the first major property portal site to scrap this open prejudice, which plagues portals by deterring renters receiving housing benefit from applying to homes, even when they can afford the rent.

For far too long, tenants have been barred from renting a home simply because they receive housing benefit – but changes like … Read more

International Women’s Day: we must see an end to women in housing poverty
International Women’s Day: we must see an end to women in housing poverty

International Women’s Day is a brilliant celebration of the women we all know and look up to, including our women politicians. But as well as those with a high-profile, we should also be celebrating the thousands of women, often hidden from view, who are keeping their families going despite facing homelessness and destitution.

Every day in the UK, women are waking up in poverty because they can’t cover the costs of their rent. This is no accident. The housing benefit … Read more

Two big wins in the fight against DSS discrimination
Two big wins in the fight against DSS discrimination

Over the last year we’ve been campaigning hard to end the discrimination people on housing benefit (also known as DSS) face when they try and rent a home.

Together we’re making a real difference. Last week we had not one, but two massive campaign wins.

The first is that the government announced a crackdown on landlords who simply refuse to rent to people who receive housing benefit.

Housing minister Heather Wheeler said:

‘Everyone should have the same opportunity when … Read more

Right to Rent – time to end this discriminatory policy
Right to Rent – time to end this discriminatory policy

Today, the High Court delivered a damning judgment on the Government’s Right to Rent scheme, finding that the desired effects of the policy have been outweighed by its potential for race discrimination.

From the outset, we argued that the scheme, which criminalised landlords who let to those without the right to rent (such as people with unsettled immigration status), would lead to further discrimination in the rental market, including for some who have every right to rent.

We provided … Read more

'It's not fair to expect people and their children to hop about from home to home'
'It's not fair to expect people and their children to hop about from home to home'

Moving to a new house is one of the most stressful things a family can do. For Lucie, who has had to move seven times in the last 11 years, the upheaval has been a regular feature of family life.

The cost of all this moving has been high, both financially and in terms of disruption for her and her children. ‘It’s been up and down for years. I think I’ve had seven properties, and out of those landlords, four … Read more

No excuse for no DSS
No excuse for no DSS

Our campaign against ‘no DSS’ has split the lettings industry. Some agents have engaged positively with it and are taking meaningful steps to drive out old discriminatory practices by making sure they take into account every tenants’ full financial circumstances.

But some have just tried to defend old practices.

Many defences of no DSS are transparent prejudice. But a couple of arguments for ruling out tenants on housing benefit sound more plausible, like:

what if a landlord can’t afford to… Read more
The letting fees ban is finally happening
The letting fees ban is finally happening

Mark 1 June 2019 in your calendars, folks.

Almost three years after the ban on letting fees was first announced, in Autumn 2016, the government has finally approved the Tenant Fees bill – which would ban letting agents and landlords charging ridiculous letting fees.

On Wednesday 23 January 2019, parliament approved the bill, which bans all upfront fees to tenants – things like reference fees, credit checks, administration fees and contract renewal fees.

Government analysis suggests private renters could save Read more

‘If you’re on benefits, landlords don’t want to know’
‘If you’re on benefits, landlords don’t want to know’

This article is part of a series, ‘Shelter defending the right to a home’, that appears on theguardian.com

A lack of social housing forces tenants on benefits to turn to private landlords – but they invariably find themselves locked out of the market. That’s why Shelter is defending the rights of those who rent, or struggle to rent because of discrimination or stigma.

When Jim Spencer was served with a section 21 notice by his landlord, he admits he didn’t … Read more