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Single mums win legal victory over ‘No DSS’ letting agent ban

  • 27/02/2020
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Single mums win legal victory over ‘No DSS’ letting agent ban
Two single mothers have claimed legal victories against letting agents who refused to rent properties to tenants on benefits.

Amanda Staples and Emma Loffler were both awarded out-of-court settlements on the grounds of indirect discrimination, the BBC reported.

Staples, 36, was looking for somewhere to live with her three children but on disclosing to estate agents that she was a housing benefit claimant she received a “blanket ‘no’”, she told the BBC.

She found a property in a village in Cambridgeshire where she had previously lived. But despite offering to pay 12 months rent upfront, after her father offered to lend her the money, the letting agent kept insisting the landlord’s insurance would not cover tenants with benefits.

Speaking to the BBC, she said: “I had noticed ‘No DSS’ adverts before but I thought I would be able to find somewhere locally so my children could still go to the same school and so I could keep my job there,” she said.

“It was really uncomfortable to keep having to explain my personal circumstances to strangers.

“The whole thing was so difficult – I was working part time, I’ve always paid my rent, I had a child-maintenance order, and I ended up on benefits because of the divorce and because I had three children.”

Rosie Keogh, also a single mum, backed by charity Shelter won her legal battle against ‘No DSS’ letting agents in 2018. She argued blanket bans on tenants supported by benefits indirectly discriminated against women. The ban particularly affected single women who were more likely to be in receipt of benefits, she said.

Shelter backed both Staples and Loffler’s legal cases against the agents, citing Keogh’s victory.

The letting agent in Staples’ case wrote a public letter of apology and paid £3,000 in compensation and £10,000 legal costs. Loffler was awarded £3,500 compensation and £2,500 towards legal costs as well as a public letter of apology.

In March 2019, NatWest removed all restrictions on landlords renting to tenants who are in receipt of housing benefits, following a high profile campaign initiated by Mortgage Solutions involving landlord Helena McAleer.

The block on tenants receiving benefits was highlighted by McAleer who was told by NatWest to either remortgage with another lender or evict her vulnerable tenant claiming benefits.

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