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Disabled single mother wins ‘no DSS rule’ legal case

14 July 2020

A disabled single mother has won a court case against the ‘No DSS’ rule implemented by thousands of private landlords across the UK.

For decades, landlords have been able to discriminate against prospective tenants in receipt of housing benefit, arguing that they are less likely to keep up with rent payments. Many of those people are disabled.

Judge Victoria Elizabeth Mark ruled that “rejecting tenancy applications because the applicant is in receipt of housing benefit was unlawfully indirectly discriminatory on the grounds of sex and disability, contrary to […] the Equality Act 2010”.

Housing charity Shelter, whose solicitor Rose Arnall fought the case called the ruling a “nail in the coffin” of the ‘No DSS rule’. She said: “It finally clarifies that discriminating against people in need of housing benefits is not just morally wrong, it is against the law.”

The ruling does not set a legal precedent, but Shelter said it sent a warning to landlords and letting agents that they should end the practice. Five similar cases brought by Shelter in recent years have been settled in the charity’s favour.

DR UK’s Kamran Mallick said: “Housing is one of people’s most fundamental needs. It is absurd that disabled people are discriminated against on the basis that they are on state benefits. We hear time and again of people with exemplary references, with a solid record of regular, on-time rent payments, being refused tenancies solely because they receive benefits. We welcome this ruling. But the government needs to go further to ensure that disabled people cannot be discriminated against when securing somewhere to live.”

The Department of Social Security (DSS), which lends its name to the punitive rule, existed from 1988 to 2001, and was replaced by the Department for Work and Pensions.