Property portal Zoopla is banning the phrase “No DSS” in housing advertisements on its websites. Property owners and managing agents will be prohibited from using it in listings by a change in terms and conditions.
Zoopla will also remove any “No DSS” references in listings and remove the “No DSS” fields in its own cloud-based software products.
The move comes after the Government called for immediate change to “No DSS” in housing adverts earlier this month. The Housing and Homelessness Minister, Heather Wheeler MP, said that she would be meeting with industry stakeholders to bring pressure on them for a voluntary outlaw of the practice.
Housing charity Shelter has been challenging “No DSS” housing adverts, as well as naming and shaming agents that it believes veto prospective tenants if they are in receipt of benefits.
Zoopla announced that its ban will be fully in place next month.
The portal’s Managing Director, Charlie Bryant, says: “We fully support the recommendations of the NLA [National Landlords Association] and the RLA [Residential Landlords Association], which oppose blanket bans against tenants in receipt of housing-related benefits, and are pleased to be taking action which clarifies this position.
“All tenants who are looking to rent a property deserve the chance to be fully assessed for their suitability, and matched to a home that suits both their and the landlord’s circumstances.”
He adds: “We proactively sought the views of our largest lettings-focused agents to ensure the above measures were undertaken on a collaborative basis and received significant support in respect of our proposed additional measures.”
Chris Town, the Vice Chair of the RLA, responds to the news: “We welcome today’s announcement from Zoopla, which comes after extensive campaigning by the RLA. Landlords should not refuse someone solely because they are on benefits, and should consider prospective tenants on a case-by-case basis. But, with growing numbers of benefit claimants now reliant on the private rented sector, we need to do more to give tenants and landlords greater confidence in the benefits system.
“This means building on positive changes already made by the Government by giving all tenants the right to choose if they want to have the housing element of Universal Credit paid directly to their landlord; working with bank lenders to remove mortgage terms that prevent landlords renting to benefit claimants, as NatWest has already done; and ending the Local Housing Allowance freeze, which has meant benefits bear little resemblance to rents.”
He concludes: “We look forward to working constructively with the Government to address these issues.”