Turning Down Tenants On Benefit NOT Discrimination

Posted: 11/3/2016


It is not unlawful discrimination for an agent or landlord to refuse to let to a prospective tenant who is on benefit.

Receipt of benefits is not one of the protected characteristics as set out in the Equality Act 2010.

A new paper, placed in the House of Commons library this week, specifically addresses the issue of letting to benefit claimants. It says there are a number of reasons why landlords do not let to claimants: they associate them with rent arrears, anti-social behaviour and damage to property.

A key concern is that Local Housing Allowance is paid to claimants, not landlords. The claimants are trusted to pass the money to their landlords, rather than spend it on other things.

Another issue for landlords is that market rents in their areas may be far higher than LHA. Furthermore Lenders and insurers can also be problematic when a landlord is letting to claimants. latest changes will see the roll-out of Universal Credit, where all benefits are paid as one, creating more concerns for landlords. 

The new paper gives no definitive information on the extent to which claimants are turned away as private tenants, but quotes evidence, including a 2016 survey for Crisis.

This found that 55% of landlords are unwilling to let to tenants on benefits.

While a bit of a history lesson, it is an interesting and balanced report – usefully read by housing campaigners as well, we would suggest, as those new to working in the private rented sector.


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