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When everyone has a home

028 9024 5640: Housing & Debt Helpline for Northern Ireland

Second court rules "NO DSS" policies are unlawful

With the assistance of Shelter, another person has successfully challenged a letting agent who discriminated against tenants in receipt of benefits. 

In this case, the agent was found to have a blanket policy of refusing to provide rental accommodation to people in receipt of social security benefits. Although the decision is based on English law, it is likely that courts in Northern Ireland would be similarly persuaded by arguments that such a policy is unlawful indirect discrimination without reasonable justification. 

This is the second time in a matter of months that a court has found in favour of an applicant who was unable to apply for a rental home, simply because he or she was in receipt of benefits. Previously, such cases were often settled before they reached court, but these rulings should deter any landlord or letting agent from making blanket decisions on an applicant's suitability as a tenant because the tenant is entitled to receive benefits to supplement their income. 

Application to Northern Ireland

This judgment was issued by a county court in England and, as such, is not binding on other courts. However, the arguments advanced apply equally in Northern Ireland and this landmark case suggests a strong likelihood of success for any similar legal challenges here.

Any person who has been refused services by an agent or landlord simply because they will be receiving social security assistance to pay their rent should contact our helpline for advice.

Landlords and letting agents operating such blanket policies in Northern Ireland should end this practice immediately. Landlord Advice NI can provide free advice to registered landlords operating in Northern Ireland.

Tagged In

Private Tenancies, Case law, Legal

This article was written on 14 September 2020. It should not be relied on as a statement of the current law or policy position. For help with housing issues please contact our helpline on 028 9024 5640 or use our online chat service at www.housingadviceNI.org.