The petition has been launched on the website of 38 Degrees – the not-for-profit political-activism organisation – and came after Zoopla clamped down on landlords and letting agents by banning adverts which discriminate against people on housing benefit.
The focus on tenants in receipt of benefits comes after the case of Helena McAleer which was revealed exclusively by Mortgage Solutions. She was being forced to evict a vulnerable tenant or to remortgage elsewhere by lender NatWest.
However, after launching a campaign which gained widespread support, NatWest announced earlier this month that it was overhauling its policy and would now allow landlords to let to tenants in receipt of benefits.
The petition to Rightmove encouraged supporters to put their signatures to the statement: “Don’t allow landlords and letting agents who discriminate against people on housing benefit to advertise their properties on your website.”
High house prices force families into renting
David Innes of 38 Degrees said: “Housing in the UK is in crisis. The shortage of social housing and high house prices mean more and more people are forced to rent privately and rely on housing benefit to pay extortionate rents.”
Around 889,000 households in the UK receive housing benefit to help pay their rent, out of about 4.5m households living in private rental accommodation. It is available to people who are unemployed, on a low income or claiming benefits.
Rightmove, which increased its full-year profit by 11.3 per cent last year in part by raising the fees paid by its estate agent and housebuilder customers, was also under pressure from another petition demanding that they add basic wheelchair-access facts to property listings.
The homeless charity Shelter is also running a campaign to “stop DSS (department of social security) discrimination” which they said was “unjust and potentially unlawful”.