NatWest forced to shut branches by protests over landlord benefit policies

NatWest forced to shut branches by protests over landlord benefit policies

 

The lender currently does not accept buy-to-let applications where tenants are in receipt of benefits.

Mortgage Solutions last month revealed the case of NatWest landlord customer Helena McAleer, who was told find a new provider or evict her tenant on benefits when she went to the bank for a remortgage.

Campaign groups including the Londoners Renters Union and Living Rent, alongside community-based union Acorn organised protests against policies at NatWest branches across the country over the weekend.

One branch in Stratford, London, as well as another in Bristol were closed by the action, according to reports.

We shut it dowwwnnnn @NatWest_Help Stratford this morning 📢 Great to have support from passing cars and people joining us along the way, speaking truth to power! 💕✊🏻 Natwest, drop the clause! #EndDSSDiscrimination #YesDSS #Homes4PeopleNotProfits 🏡 pic.twitter.com/6ClWzme0nV

— Amanda Cave (@aecave) November 24, 2018

@LDNRentersUnion #housingcrisis campaigners from @ACORN_Bristol attempting en masse to enter NatWest Help bank in Bristol. Part of a national protest pic.twitter.com/rJetIc8Lcy #EndDSSDiscrimination #Bristol #Homes4PeopleNotProfits

— Jerry Hicks (@JerryHicksUnite) November 24, 2018

McAleer attended the protest in Bristol.

She has launched a petition calling for the government to ban buy-to-let lenders from discriminating against tenants on welfare.

NatWest promised to review its policies since the case came to light.

However, in correspondence with the work and pensions select committee (WPSC) bank chief Ross McEwan said the reflects “evidence that rental arrears are much greater in this segment of the market and we are satisfied that this restriction does not contravene equality legislation”.

The MP committee last week said regulation may be needed to force lenders to change their policies.

A spokesperson for the London Renters Union said: “We plan to keep the pressure on NatWest until it drops its ‘no DSS’ clause.

“The housing crisis is bad enough already for people on low incomes without the added pressure of benefit discrimination.

“Renters claiming housing benefit face huge difficulties finding housing because landlords and agents won’t rent to them.”