Both Rightmove and Zoopla tell agents to avoid blanket bans of tenants on benefits

Both Rightmove and Zoopla are issuing guidance that the phrase ‘no benefits tenants’ should not be used in blanket advertisements by agents.

Zoopla posted advice to agents yesterday which said: “You may be aware of a recent campaign from the National Housing Federation and Shelter about the advertising of rental listings which explicitly discriminate against people who rely on housing benefit.

“Zoopla supports the recommendations of the National Landlords Association (NLA) and the Residential Landlords Association (RLA) which have advocated that landlords do not impose blanket bans against tenants on benefits.

“We’re aware of a small number of rental listings on portal websites that fit into this category, and recommend that all our member agents follow the NLA and RLA guidance.”

The RLA says that decisions on whether benefits tenants can be accepted should be taken on a case by case basis.

Yesterday evening, Rightmove went further, telling EYE: “As per the RLA’s guidance, agents should not impose blanket bans against tenants on benefits.

“We realise that some landlords are subject to restrictions, including from their mortgage lenders, that mean they are unable to rent to a tenant claiming benefits.

“Where this is the case agents should explain this to prospective tenants and try to help them find suitable accommodation.”

The advice from Rightmove and Zoopla comes in the absence – so far – of any official and unequivocal government guidance as to whether banning tenants on benefits breaches discrimination law.

A parliamentary briefing paper published in April this year said that “refusing to let to benefit claimants is unlikely to amount to direct discrimination” because the receipt of benefits is not a protected characteristic under the Equality Act 2010. However, it could be indirect discrimination. https://researchbriefings.parliament.uk/ResearchBriefing/Summary/SN07008

However, Shelter is expected to bring a legal challenge.

Meanwhile, Universal Credit has come under renewed fire following Monday night’s Panorama programme which revealed the extent of rent arrears as a result of changes to the benefits system.

Under the old system, housing allowance was paid direct to councils or private landlords.

Now the housing element of Universal Credit is made direct to claimants.

Panorama said that where Universal Credit tenants are in rent arrears, the average sum owed is now £663, compared with the previous £263.

The RLA has claimed that 61% of private landlords with tenants on Universal Credit have seen them go into arrears in the last year.

Paul Shamplina, founder of eviction firm Landlord Action, said: “It’s a deal breaker for landlords and yet the councils don’t have enough houses to house homeless people.

“We saw on Panorama that in the last year Flintshire Council alone has seen an 85% reduction in the number of private landlords on their books willing to rent to Universal Credit tenants.

“When you roll that out across the rest of the country you can see why we have such a desperate housing shortage.

“The system used to benefit tenants, by providing more accommodation, as well as landlords, who were guaranteed timely rent with no void periods. Now it benefits no one.”

He said: “Over the next few years, thousands more families will move across to Universal Credit.

“Unless changes are made now, housing stock will decrease further, and homelessness will increase.

“At present, direct payments to landlords are only considered in certain crisis situations. This needs to change, and tenants and landlords need the option to have the housing element paid direct to the landlord.”

Private landlord Mick Roberts – who has always let to tenants on benefits – has had to reconsider his policy.

He said: “I have loved letting to housing benefit tenants over the years and formed great relationships with many of my tenants, but I’m sad to say I can no longer do it as a direct result of Universal Credit.

“As an example, I have four tenants in Nottingham in receipt of housing benefit who have rented from me for over 16 years. They have NEVER had arrears.

“They have all been moved to Universal Credit, and now they are all in arrears. That’s a 100% failure rate.”

He added: “Universal Credit has to be applied for online.

“I have a tenant who doesn’t even know how to go online or have access.

“They are not coming out to see the people at ground level. If they spoke to the tenants that are affected by this, as I have, they would realise.”

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24 Comments

  1. Moveaside01

    If Rightmove continues down the route of biting the hand that feeds it, we’ll be the one on benefits!

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  2. Ouch18

    Quite simple? It’s my house, my money that purchased it, i’ll Let it to who I want?!

    If that’s to professional working people only, then that’s absolutely nobody else’s business !!!!

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    1. GeorgeHammond78

      Ouch 18….. completely agree with the sentiment but the law of the land doesn’t and since its way easier for the likes of Shitler to persecute you, than it is for common sense to prevail, we don’t have much choice in the matter, sadly.

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  3. Harry Albert Lettings Estates

    That’s rich coming from Rightmove and Zoopla, both of whom have inflated fees that simply aren’t worth the cost. Traditional advertising brings in the same number of quality tenant leads as both Rightmove and Zoopla combined. Definitely not worth hundreds a month.

     

    Maybe more landlords and agents would be willing to take lower income tenants and charge slightly lower rents if it weren’t for the extortionate costs Rightmove especially expect agents to pay.

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  4. Chatty Cathy

    Definitely the two most ridiculous narrow minded comments of the year, I’m assuming that you don’t accept disabled people as well??

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    1. Ouch18

      You’re a landlady I assume?

       

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  5. Will

    As a landlord I will innovate to meet the challenges all this tinkering of being told who I should or not let to; driven by a bunch of political guerillas and bully boys/girls purporting to be  a charity. I do not appreciate the total fees ban so not only am I expected to accept poor risks I am being told I can’t even make reasonable charges for referencing to check those risks.  The time it takes them to get their legislation in place gives me ample opportunity to come up with a strategy to address matters.  I have spent a lifetime of dealing with bully boys whilst staying the right side of the law; I see this no differently.

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  6. smile please

    Who the heck are RM and Z to say how I can advertise a property. I pay you. I will say what I want!

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    1. GeorgeHammond78

      Er, their bat, their ball, their playing field. Why? because we’ve collectively let it become so. 

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  7. smile please

    4 tenants rented from him for 16 years  and been on housing benefit the entire time…..

     

    This is why the system is broken. Too many people see it as a career choice. As upsetting as universal credit is, hopefully gets a few more into work.

     

    And if private landlords will not let to tenants on universal credit, it’s another incentive for them to get into work.

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    1. cyberduck46

      >The RLA says that decisions on whether benefits tenants can be accepted should be taken on a case by case basis.
      >Yesterday evening, Rightmove went further, telling EYE: “As per the RLA’s guidance, agents should not impose blanket bans against tenants on benefits.
      >“We realise that some landlords are subject to restrictions, including from their mortgage lenders, that mean they are unable to rent to a tenant claiming benefits.
      >“Where this is the case agents should explain this to prospective tenants and try to help them find suitable accommodation.”
      I suppose Agents could impose a fee on Landlords that want to allow tenants on benefits. That would then show they are not imposing a blanket ban.

       

       

       

       

       

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  8. Home Provider

    Shelter’s Director of Campaigns, Greg Beales, is quoted as claiming last week “There is no “rational explanation” for landlords discriminating against benefits claimants” https://talkradio.co.uk/news/theres-no-evidence-people-benefits-are-less-good-tenants-says-shelter-spokesman-18110928716    Unbelievable, literally.

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    1. Home Provider

      Last month Beales misrepresented the law to Ludlow Thompson.  https://www.property118.com/shelters-campaigns-director-misrepresented-law-agent-harassed/ 

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      1. Home Provider

        The support for Shelter’s claim of indirect discrimination has been nullified by the actions of successive governments.  Why is Beales trying to blame letting agents for the result of government decisions?
        https://www.property118.com/support-shelters-discrimination-campaign-completely-date/

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  9. IWONDER36

    It’s often easier and quicker to state No DSS on a property that will be popular, and attract early attention from working people who carry little risk of falling into rent arrears.

    We have many benefit tenants in an area where universal credit has been active for some time. The amount of wasted hours we spend on the phone per client is astounding. We are dealing with tenants crying down the phone because they are in substantial arrears, we are dealing with landlords who are taking their frustrations out on us, and we are sitting in a queue for what seems like an eternity to then be passed from pillar to post in the DWP to sort the whole mess out.

    We have one client who was not only in arrears before giving birth, but her baby is now six weeks old, and still no payment!

    The trouble with a one benefit system is that it doesn’t differentiate between the eternally work-shy and the genuine stop-gap claimant, or those with a disability and a genuine reason for being unable to take paid work.

    In theory it should work, but with the increases in minimum wage it takes many low earners above the threshold, they’re now left struggling to pay their rent, or feed their kids!

    In the past two years the constant attack on the PRS has been shambolic to say the least.

    I dread to think what the country will look like in ten years when all of the landlords have exited the market, and sprawling council estates pop up everywhere, all so that Mr Empee’s nephew twice removed can have the lucrative maintenance contracts. Twelve years after that, the tenants can buy them for buttons, live in them for five years, sell them and move North to a mansion.

    The rest of us work our b***s off trying to make it to retirement while the goalposts are constantly shifted, until they’re so far out of the stadium that we’ll wear the rubber out on our Zimmer frames before we even get close to the penalty box!

    By the way I’m still collecting VAT from the poor tenants as part of their application fee, doesn’t mean its not there if you can’t see it!

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  10. Onthelookout03

    Make the government a guarantor for every tenancy with a tenant claiming a benefit payment!

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  11. Woodentop

    Absolute nonsense. The landlord should have the right to decide who they rent to and as it has been made perfectly clear, there are other factors which impose that restriction on landlords. Stopping agents from confirming that a particular element of the market would be wasting their time contacting them is stupid. It will generate more wasted time for agents to be “politically correct” but with the same end result, if the landlord doesn’t want or is prevented from taking benefit tenants, they won’t let to them.

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  12. Woodhen

    There is no mention on this page or other similar pages relating to:- (A) Insurance Companies charging additional premiums along with requiring additional inspections. (B) Referencing Companies not taking into account benefit payments when looking at affordability (C) Single Mother Tenants coming up with their working partners to act as a Guarantor for the rent (D) Single Mother Tenants refusing to put partner on Tenancy Agreement because it reduces their benefits. No one is looking into the bigger picture as to why there as so many single mothers….its the benefit system creating them. In my opinion a national endemic fraud going on throughout the country. I had a benefit tenant with a personalised number plate Audi Q5, another working as a full time manager in a Coffee Chain. A large proportion claim the father works offshore…assumingly earning mega bucks. The best one to date is a single mother working part time stating her partner does not live with her. On further investigation he was found to be living in property permanently…he was a home owner in his own right and let his property to another single mother in receipt of benefits to pay his mortgage. Local Authority took no action or looked into it.
    We have had some very good single mother benefit tenants and each one is assessed on an individual basis.

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    1. IWONDER36

      Exactly, I’m aware a two boys (now men) who grew up reliant on benefits with their Mother in a council house, while she was in a full relationship with their supposedly “estranged” dad, who himself was a portfolio Landlord renting to DSS tenants over a 20 year period. They’re all doing very nicely now that our tax investment in them is bearing fruit.
      Before you all jump on me, they have no connection to me or my agency! 
      On a seperate note, I only have to look out of my shop window day after day, year after year to see the same faces heading for an afternoon in Spoons after finishing a morning’s cash-in-hand with Pete the Plasterer. or some other dodgy trader.
      WE WILL MAKE WORK PAY! They say…..
      And they’re right, work does pay, just not for those doing it legally. 

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    2. Anthonyw

      Think this is the answer it is down to the individual. Not everyone on benefits is trying to scam the system or not pay rent. There are some good people whom have just fallen on hard times. Someone needs to come up with a way to sort the rogues from the decent people – that is the problem we have. At the moment the decent ones are being penalised because of the bad ones

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  13. Quags

    If rightmove are so set on this, why do they offer it as an option when you list a rental property?

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    1. Anthony

      Jupix Software, owned by Zoopla

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  14. Home Provider

    A tweet from Shelter refers to the article above.
    “And FYI @PropIndEye – government guidance DOES say that benefit bans may breach equality law, due to indirect discrimination” 
    This purports to correct something that PIE had NOT in fact said.  What Ms Renshaw wrote was “in the absence – so far – of any official government guidance as to whether banning tenants on benefits breaches discrimination law”. i.e. as to whether the ban DOES breach the law, not whether it MAY do so.  Is Shelter blind to the difference, or is it trying to deceive?
    Government guidance means guidance FROM the government.  The guidance that the tweet links to, as if it were evidence, is a Briefing Paper written by an employee of the House of Commons Library. These impartial papers are written to inform MPs so that they can scrutinise the government..  They are not official guidance from the government.  Is Shelter blind to the difference, or is it trying to deceive?

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  15. Anthonyw

    If you own a property you should have every right to decide who and what type of tenant you have. You are a business. No one should dictate who you let your property to. Would RM, Z etc. still think the same if agencies were listing loads of properties on their site and they still remained even after their account has been de-activated (basically squatting and paying no rent). It is effectively what they are asking landlords to do.

    The new universal credit is so flawed. Many people who have been on benefits for some time are not used to having loads of money in their account. Of course they are going to overlook paying rent etc. they have never needed to think about it before.

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