Potential discrimination by asking whether the rent is paid by DSS or not

I am partly on benefits but also partly on my salary. I am disabled but I work full time. My earnings are limited due to my disability.

My total income is enough to rent a property in places where I want to live in.

I still see a few adverts saying ‘no DSS’ and many many more adverts without ‘no DSS’ where I send a message and have an actual conversation until they find out that a part of my income comes from benefits, they ghost me.

But that’s just landlords not following their legal obligation which is a problem but not the point of this post.

The point of this post is that Openrent provides the landlords who do not want to follow their legal obligation an opportunity to discriminate by allowing landlords to ask whether we plan on paying the rent with benefits or not as part of screening questions.

Here’s the reason why this is becoming a real problem for some of us who are in the similar arrangement:

  1. If I say ‘yes’, my enquiry is rarely followed up with.

  2. If I say ‘no’, my enquiry has a higher chance of being followed up with.

If I go for the option 1, I can’t do anything because I’d get ignored. If I try to place a legal pressure, this would not work as the landlords has a plausible deniability by stating they got overwhelmed with applications so they went for the first enquiry or whatever excuse they came up on the spot. On rare occasions if I go for option 1 and then directly message the landlord asking if my DSS would be accepted in addition to salary, I may get ignored. Placing a legal pressure is even more difficult as it means I’d have lied on the initial screening questions.

If I go for the option 2, and my enquiry does get followed up with. If later on, my enquiry is not progressed through, the plausible deniability is weakened as well as its difficult for a landlord to say no after a viewing, referencing, etc.

Not to mention, in my experience, a lot of landlords who don’t want DSS tenants often change their mind upon meeting me. It’s the first impression that matters. It’s easy to focus on numbers not realising that it’s actual humans that they’re dealing with.

Therefore, Openrent staff, I can only politely ask you to remove this particular question from the screening questions form as this question makes our lives even more difficult. The question is wholly unsuitable and the justification you give for asking the question is implied to be related with LHA rate not covering the full rent. This does not apply to people who earn both benefits and salary.

Furthermore, even those wholly on benefits, should have a right to not reveal the fact they’re on benefits until the affordability check is ran. I appreciate you are checking LHA rates but should this mean the landlord has to know? No.


the landlord is totally entitled to know how the rent will be paid IE Where the rent money is coming from AND you do not have to pay for the affordability check. !!! So the landlord wants to limit affordability payments out of his pocket ( if you were a landlord ,you would do the same). How to do this ask first the income and source


Before a landlord puts a prospective tenant forward for referencing they may want to ask questions in relation to their Right To Rent, income, employment etc to ascertain whether there will be a fair chance of the applicant passing the reference checks because each reference has a direct cost to the landlord. Apparently before the introduction of the Tenants Fee ban LLs and agents routinely charged tenants to conduct a reference check. I am a new LL so have no experience of this myself.

The other thing is that mortgage and insurance companies will ask which type of tenants you will be letting to…

Those on benefits
Employed/self employed

Each category having a different interest rate/premium and those on benefits would attract the highest interest rate/premium. For a LL just starting out like myself the difference between the lower mortgage rate and the higher rate might be the difference between the mortgage application being accepted or rejected. I assume most LL applying for a mortgage would opt for the employed/self employed category with the lowest interest rate and letting to anyone else would be breaking the terms of your mortgage.


Too much talk about discrimination. If LL won’t take persons on benefits, then they won’t, regardless of what OR asks you. And they don’t have to share with you the reason why they refused you. They will just find out about your financial situation a bit later, after wasting their and your time for viewing.

If I were you, I’d concentrate on accepting things as they are (because you can’t change them) and looking into how you can persuade the LL that you will be a great T for them. That’s something you have control over.


@Jma as someone.on benefits and searching for accommodation I felt I had to comment
Having spoken on here with various LL I can fully understand why they are reluctant to accept DSS (the issue of TT not paying or if paid direct the length of time it takes to get payments and to “settle up” if and when you leave and I appreciate yes its frustrating however I can.also say that honesty is ALWAYS the best option be open.with the LL show them that you are a reliable TT and that they wouldnt regret accepting you (as there will be countless people applying for the same property)
Not “calling them out” for illegal practice or discrimination would be a good start
And as harsh as this sounds bear in mind thay its the LL property and they can accept or decline anyone they choose
Also may I ask? And forgive me if this seems a silly question but you state that your earnings are limited due to your disability yet you work.full time how are they limited?


It seems you may have some misconceptions about the burden of proof under Equality Act 2010.

Discrimination claims are heard under civil courts where the claimant only needs to show the judge that on a “balance of probability” that the defendant has discriminated the claimant.

The claimant only needs to convince that the actions of the defendant is discriminatory. This does not require a solid evidence because this isn’t a criminal case. When the claimant has made their case, the burden of proof shift to the defendant where they must prove that there was a reason why their action wasn’t discriminatory. This is made clear in the section 136 of the Equality Act 2010:


Legal actions are how we have control over this situation. If you want to run a business, you should make sure your business follows the laws in the first place. If you can’t, it’s time to sell up and give it to someone who actually can run the business better or even better, owner-occupiers.


As you said, referencing check costs money, so it’s sensible to screen the applicants out before you begin referencing check. This, I quite agree, makes sense.

So the purpose of asking whether the applicant is on benefits or not, because it affects mortgage and insurance?

I would like you to read the judgment from a court in the link below where the it debunks the common misconception of increased insurance premium and mortgages due to the tenant being on benefits.


Then you have missed my entire point then.

The landlord doesn’t need to know how the rent will be paid at the screening stage.

Knowing if the tenant is on benefits in the screening stage = bad (because it doesn’t serve a meaningful purpose, see below for the link to court judgement proving this to be case).

Finding out if the tenant is on benefits in the affordability check stage = ok (because the landlord needs to know if the tenant can afford the rent or not and some anti money laundering check).

Have a look at the court judgment paper below:


In the appendix 2 section, there’s a quote:

Landlords letting to benefit claimants were no less likely to be profitable than average.”

Which is pretty damming, as is the rest of the judgment itself, it essentially refutes a lot of preconceived notions about benefit claiming tenants. I suggest you take a read.

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all a landlord has to do in a court is show the judge proof that he already rents to Houseing allowance claimants < so how can that be discriminating? ( I have 2 claimants, amidsts employed, just as I have different ethnic groups) Those who play the “dss” card and the “race” card landlords will avoid


there is no doubt a blanket ban on any group is wrong. Affording a place is the key . If the gov passed a law going back to LANDLORDS getting rent direct, then most “DSS” problems will disapear. As it is now a tenant can initially agree to a landlord direct payment and then later cancell it . I know what I will do


You’re arguing the point I never raised.

My point wasn’t that people on benefits should be able to rent any properties they want to even if they can’t afford it.

My point was that if they can afford it, then they should be able to.

“I have black friends therefore I can’t be racist” is irrelevant as you’re bringing your own personal experience into a court case that has nothing to do with it.

If you reject an applicant on benefits and they start a court case against you.

The judge will ask “can this applicant afford it?”

If your affordability checks passes them, can you explain why you’ve still rejected them anyway? If your answer “I don’t like this guy and no I’m not being discriminatory because I have tenants who’s on benefits” will not fly.

The equality act 2010 states in absence of any valid explanation, it’ll be assumed to be a discrimination.

Additionally, you mentioned direct payment. Why do you require people on benefits to have the council/DWP to set up a direct payments to you but not people on salary to set up a direct payments from their employer to you?

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we will always have a valid explanation. On my last empty place my fiirst choice was an older lady on benefits . She then changed her mind. 2nd was a mid age man who did not know where he lived, or if he had any ccj or was in debt. 3rd was a rail worker answered all my points Got it. !


eg A benefits person has 20k a working person earns £35k. <£35k wins



Although I did not read the judgement in full, ( it’s quite challenging for me) I agree with it. Anyone in the industry should know better. You cannot word an ad stating “NO DSS.” without an explanation.

E.g. " NO DSS due to mortgage/insurance restrictions." If that is their reason would be more appropriate and would serve to inform the prospective tenant from the outset.

Your other point implied that it is a misconception that mortgage rates and insurance premiums do not necessarily increase if the tenant is on benefits. I applied for my mortgages using an online broker. Their website is similar to any price comparison website. You can play around with the application by selecting different options and if you select benefits the interest rate would increase.


Very good point there.

The judgment itself stated that a significant portion of companies offering insurance (58%) will extend the protection to tenants on benefits at a little extra cost or no extra cost.

Vast majority of mortgages (89%-90%) do not have restrictive terms for tenants on benefits.

So yes you are correct, it is possible that some of them will cost you an extra if you wish to take in a tenant on benefits.

Assuming these mortgages and insurances who have the restrictive terms are lower priced as opposed to the ones without the such terms.

The question will be that, was it reasonable to go for higher priced insurance and mortgage? This is something for the judges to decide under “reasonable adjustment” clause.

I recently won a court case against a company who denied a reasonable adjustment, the reason being was that it’s too expensive. The judge considered a few factors such as the company’s affordability to employ the reasonable adjustment, profitability, cost of the adjustment, was there any other alternative adjustments, etc.

I won the case simply because the company offered such no evidence. No evidence that the adjustment was expensive. No evidence that the company can’t afford it. No evidence that the company couldn’t make a profit. Etc.

If landlords can show that, the judge will accept that it’s simply unreasonable to take in tenants on benefits if the cost is excessive.

But being a landlord is a serious business and there’ll be all sorts of legal obligations attached with it. It’s one thing to take in a low risk tenant but when the linked judgment above states (with a citation) that there’s no profitability change on average from letting to benefit claimants, we must ask ourselves, is the decision not to let the properties to those on benefits based on prejudice? Why “low risk” tenants exclude those on benefits?

I am quite aware that being a landlord isn’t an easy task, for various reasons but landlords can either follow all of the legal obligations or just exit from the business if it’s not profitable due to needing to follow all the legal obligations. Nobody is obliged to let out their spare properties. Many companies close up due to inability to continue operating profitably while following all legal obligations, why is it any different for landlords?

I personally believe that extra costs of catering to people on benefits, disabled people, etc, should bore by the government but the government decided that this cost should be bore by the private sector therefore anyone feels this should change, they are more than welcome to bring this up to their MPs (I did).

Going back to the original post:

Openrent, do you have a response to my original request?

most of my tenants are self employed So they are their own employers. and pay direct to me . You are a 3 day lister on here ,wait till you have been here decades then you can check how many benefit payers spend the taxpayer funded rent portion on themselves . Just google the amount of rent owed to social houseing by benefitters . Millions


Unless you have an unorthodox arrangement with your tenants, you mean they pay themselves salary from their own self employment and they then pay you the rent.

My point was that you implied having council/dwp paying directly to you matters. Why is it important for them to have their council/DWP pay direct to you but not people on salary having their employers pay direct to you?

You state tenants on benefits use the housing benefit portion of their benefits on themselves. I will say that it does happen but so is private renters spending willy nilly with their salary then not having money when it’s time to pay rent.

Why don’t you take a read at the court judgment from the link above? It literally says the following:

“ Landlords letting to benefit claimants were no less likely to be profitable than average.”

The above is backed up with a survey and maths. That’s a strong evidence.

Where’s your evidence?

Evidence? I do not care what a well paid judge says I have been a LL for forty years I know first hand who the better payers are. Do you understand what self employment is ? You have a big chip on your shoulder. This can go back and forth if I carry on . So thanks for letting us know your situation and that you sue landlords , we will keep an eye out for you Goodbye


There’s a huge difference between the meaning of “profitable” and “as profitable”.


As I said earlier, it is on landlords to show that they make less profit when let to those on benefits.

Judges are reasonable people and will happily accept that it’s significantly less profitable as the reason not to let to those on benefits.