The fight for home must also be a fight against discrimination

Supported by Shelter, Stephen, who is disabled,  successfully proved ‘No DSS’ discrimination is unlawful and in breach of the Equality Act
By Matthew Palmer

Did you know that if a landlord or estate agent discriminates against someone claiming housing benefit in Wales, then they are in breach of their licensing conditions? Many people may not know, which may be why we are still seeing cases of discrimination against people across Wales who are in receipt of housing benefit.

Even before the pandemic, around half of the Welsh population received some kind of benefit. Unsurprisingly, as the effects of the pandemic hit, more people claimed benefits as incomes fell.

Despite this additional pressure falling upon so many people, we are still seeing cases of people entitled to housing benefit being discriminated against when trying to secure somewhere to call home. Discrimination should never deny the right to a safe home.

This discrimination can take many forms. From blatantly unlawful ‘No DSS’ or ‘no Universal Credit’ adverts, to more creative approaches, such as advertising for ‘professionals only’ or asking for multiple months’ rent in advance.

Our recent research showed that around 75,000 (3%) of adults in Wales said they had experienced discrimination when they tried to find their current home and felt it was because of their ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, nationality, religion or disability. While we know that it is a minority of landlords wriggling through loopholes or brazenly breaking the law to discriminate against people on benefits, one instance of discrimination is one too many – as it means yet another person in Wales is denied the right to a safe home.

At a time where incomes for many are stagnated or still falling and the cost of living is increasing, it’s vital that we take action. That’s because home is everything, and without it we cannot lead happy, healthy and productive lives. We’re campaigning to end housing benefit discrimination, by ensuring that landlords and agents who breach their licensing conditions in this way don’t get away with it.

So, if you agree with us – and the law – that one instance of discrimination is one too many and you want to do something about it, then drop Matt an email (campaigns@sheltercymru.org.uk) and we’ll let you know how you can help. As little as one hour of your time will help us take discriminating landlords to task.

Together we can end this awful practice and take another step forward in our fight for home.