Challenging DSS Discrimination Toolkit
If you have experienced a ‘no DSS’ policy, you have probably been discriminated against. Use this Toolkit to work out what you can do.
What is a no DSS policy?
A ‘no DSS’ policy is when an agent or landlord refuses to rent to anyone who gets benefits.
This could include
- refusing to let you view a property, even though you can afford it
- not considering you for a tenancy because you’re on benefits, such as universal credit or housing benefit
- advertising properties as ‘no DSS’, ‘no benefits’ or ‘working professionals only.
The courts have ruled that ‘no DSS’ policies are unlawful because they indirectly discriminate against women and disabled people.
Some agents or landlords might try and give an excuse for refusing to rent to you. For example:
- you need a guarantor because you’re on benefits
- you’ll automatically fail affordability, referencing or credit checks
- the landlord, mortgage lender or insurance company won’t allow it.
It’s likely to be DSS discrimination if a property is affordable, but the agent makes assumptions about your ability to pay or your suitability as a tenant.
Proving to the agent or landlord that you can afford the rent
Landlords and agents should not assume that you can’t afford the rent just because you get benefits. Be prepared to be able to show that you can afford the rent and other up-front costs such as the deposit.
You can do this by:
- answering questions about your income honestly
- checking your local housing allowance (LHA) rate so you can get an idea of how much help you will get with your rent. Check your LHA rate here
- providing information about other income
- explaining how you can make up any shortfall between the rent and your LHA. For example, from wages, other benefits or child maintenance
- providing proof that you have a good history of paying rent – for example, bank statements or references
- offering to pay rent in advance if you can.
Affordability and credit checks
Some landlords or agents ask you to pass an affordability or credit check. They can’t charge for these checks and it will be DSS discrimination if you’re told that you will automatically fail a check because you get benefits.
If you can afford the rent but have a poor credit rating, ask if the credit check could be waived. You could ask if a friend or family member can act as a guarantor instead.
Keep a record of your property search
Keep a record of agents’ responses when you ask to view or rent a property.
Save emails or messages. If you speak to an agent in person or on the phone, note down their name and what was said as soon as you can. This can help later if you need evidence of what you were told.
Complaining to the letting agent
You can complain to an agent if you’ve faced DSS discrimination in your search for a home, regardless of your sex or disability. A complaint won’t always work but it gives the agent a chance to put things right.
Use the sample text below to help you put together an email or text to the agent.
Click anywhere in the white box to make changes. Delete or change parts marked with an ***.
Once you’re done, click copy text to clipboard. Check and save your message before you send it.
Allow the agent time to investigate and respond to your complaint.
Shelter Cymru are working with partners to end discrimination in housing.
If you think you have been discriminated against by an agent or landlord because you are on benefits, or you have seen an advert by an agent or landlord that discriminates in this way, you can report the matter by filling out a short form on our website.
The report can be anonymous and any discrimination identified will be passed to Rent Smart Wales (RSW) for investigation. All RSW licensed landlords and agents have conditions that they must keep to and if they don’t they could have their licence revoked.
Take a look at our End Discrimination Campaign for more details about how to fight and report discrimination.