OpenRent Community

No DSS - Can you say no or not? (when reason is beyond Landlord's control)

Listings with “No DSS” is no longer allowed. Fair enough.

But some lenders and/or insurers only allow employed tenants. Doing otherwise invalidates mortgages and sometimes insurance polices.

If I list a property for rent - several people will enquire. I never do viewings without a slight vetting process first (this saves much timewasting), so I send a few questions before agreeing to a viewing “Do you work, how many pets, when would you be looking to move in (etc)”

If a prospective tenant’s reply is that they do not work - I then have to politely explain my lender doesn’t allow non-working tenants. But does that mean I am basically saying no to a DSS tenant - then does that mean I can be sued?

Am I even allowed to ask if they are in work before allowing them to view? (surely I am if I already know a lender won’t let me rent to a benefits tenant otherwise I’m getting someones hopes up and wasting both our times!)

OR… am I simply getting confused and it’s only illegal to say “No DSS” on the property listing so I can do my usual procedure and ask before accepting a viewing?

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I posted a separate thread on this issue, but I would recommend you listen to the interview with Tessa Buchanan, the Barrister in the recent Tyler vs Carr case. You can find it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-6Xzbp-1UwE&list=PL1lJDGWnORk9zUUBSVPxSClNmgX4zSB8h&index=1

Her view is that lenders and insurers banning tenants on benefits from renting your property is probably now illegal and landlords should be challenging this with their mortgagees and insurance companies or risk breaking the law themselves. She said that most of these companies have scrapped these restrictions anyway and that the remaining few would probably drop the requirement shortly.

Its a risky time for landlords. It doesn’t mean that you can’t choose a working tenant over a tenant on benefits, but you should have a clear rationale and you should not be precluding tenants on benefits from consideration.

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Ask WHERE do you work?

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Definitly have to be cautious in the questions you ask. and in the answers you give

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Great advice. Very useful, thank you.

I always ask as what do you do for living?

Then just ask just general other questions for basic credit check information

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I’m now stating that DSS tenants are welcome to apply as long as they have a letter from UC stating that they will act as legal guarantor on the AST & agree to the full rental amount as advertised. They obviously won’t, so that takes care of it way before the viewing stage.

As far as I’m aware though, you have a right to refuse to let to anyone, without a reason being given. What you don’t have a right to do is to suggest that you have a no DSS policy in any advertising materials. I have rejected DSS tenants for the same reason I have rejected others. Often I simply have found another tenant that I feel I can have a better relationship with.

It’s not that a DSS tenant is any less trustworthy than any other tenant, but the source of income they rely on simply cannot be trusted. They can change their rules of payment, they can change the amount they pay & they will refuse to pay an increase in rent. I really can’t see a reason to trust UC when there’s others desperate to rent somewhere. It’s a shame for the benefits claimants, many of whom are good people, but if we can’t trust their paymasters, why should we take the risk?

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Thanks Deborah, fantastic advice

You can still do tenant reference checks to check for employment status, income, affordability, CCJs etc… The one offered by openrent is relatively inexpensive at £20 (per tenant) and quick and there are other provider too. I state that prospective tenants will have to satisfy reference and affordability checks on my advert. If the tenant passes (without or with a guarantor), you can then purchase rental insurance cover relatively cheaply too (I’ve fortunately never had to make a claim so can’t offer any opinions on its ‘real life’ usefulness).

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I do exactly the same. I stated on my last ad that they MUST pass referencing in order to get rent guarantee insurance or they will not be accepted.

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very interesting point, I recently listed a flat to rent and didn’t choose DSS option because I’m looking for professionals.
I’ve been preparing myself in terms of what questions to ask when people starting requesting to view property

just ask . are you in work?

Surely this is a bit of an outdated consideration. In the present climate, a prospective tenant can be in an apparently secure job when the tenancy is agreed, then be made redundant the following month, with little likelihood of finding another job. What are you going to do then? You can’t evict them for that reason alone. I have relied on simply using my own judgement, getting a “gut feeling” about the likely reliability of an applicant, and accepted my first tenant who was already on UC a year ago. So far there’s been no problem.

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The ONLY aspect found Unlawful was ’ Advertising No DSS ’
A landlord does NOT have to provide a reason for declining a Potential tenants application.

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Very true . I simply say " sorry I cannot help you" to anyone I dont want no matter if U C or not

To be precise, I believe that the thing found to be unlawful was the agent’s policy of rejecting all tenants who claim benefits, since this indirectly discriminated against the tenant based on characteristics which are protected by the Equality Act.

If you do not advertise ‘No DSS’, but when tenants call you, you tell them you will not let to anyone on benefits as a matter of policy, then you I believe you would be at the same risk as the defendants in the two cases that have been ruled on this year.

Sam

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Not sure I’d disagree with that Sam, but my point was, - You DON’T have to give a reason, so don’t.

I sometimes tell tenants I don’t believe the property is suitable for them or that I’m arranging a Block viewing, often true, but I only get back to and invite the potential tenants I’d be interested in - to that viewing.
See my site- www.PossessionFriend.uk

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I rent to someone who was onU C and now has a job She was also my tenant for 7 years, a few years ago and I knew her to be a trustworthy and reliable girl. so every case on certain merits

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Given what you have above Sam, I don’t understand why you continue to offer the option for landlords to untick “DSS income accpeted”

I hope people like you lose all your property and money then end up on universal credit , then you would understand what it is like dealing with people like yourself .

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