Property website Zoopla is one of the largest portals in the UK. It is a one-stop shop for tenants looking for rental properties, as most agents have listings on the site. In a move sure to please tenants, the site has banned all rental ads from using the words ‘NO DSS’ in their listings. So, either a landlord accepts DSS tenants or they use a different site.
The changes implemented by Zoopla come into effect in April. The site’s T&Cs will be amended to reflect the change and all references to DSS will be removed from the search function on its software.
More than 10% of ads contain “No DSS”
Analysis carried out by housing charities found that more than 10% of the property listing adverts on Zoopla contained the phrase ‘No DSS’ or ‘no housing benefit’. However, a significant number of tenants claim means tested benefits, so this puts them at a serious disadvantage.
The Residential Landlords Association and National Landlords Association have been campaigning for the private rental sector to stop discriminating against tenants on benefits. The government is also keen for landlords to do the same and the housing minister recently warned that it would take action if landlords didn’t stop using such terminology in rental listings.
Zoopla Issues Statement
In a statement, Zoopla said: “All tenants who are looking to rent a property deserve the chance to be fully assessed for their suitability and matched to a home that suits both their and the landlord’s circumstances.
“We proactively sought the views of our largest lettings-focused agents to ensure the above measures were undertaken on a collaborative basis and received significant support in respect of our proposed additional measures.”
RLA and Shelter Welcome Zoopla’s News
The RLA and Shelter have both welcomed the news from Zoopla.
“Landlords should not refuse someone solely because they are on benefits, and should consider prospective tenants on a case by case basis,” says Polly Neate from Shelter.
Zoopla’s main rival, Rightmove, is not quite ready to do the same. It acknowledges that some landlords are restricted from letting to benefits tenants, often by their mortgage lender. However, it is waiting for the government to issue further guidance on the matter before it bans the use of phrases such as ‘NO DSS’ from its listings.
The Growth of the PRS
The rental sector has greatly expanded in recent years, with many younger people unable to get onto the housing ladder. It is common for landlords to be wary of letting properties to tenants claiming housing benefit or universal credit. There is a misconception that tenants on benefits are unreliable and guaranteed to fall behind on their rental payments, yet this is not the case. Tenants with steady jobs are just as likely to fall into rent arrears.
A good tenant screening process is the best way to ensure you end up with a good, reliable tenant.