On Wednesday, OpenRent Co-Founder Adam Hyslop argued that there is no point banning ‘No DSS’ adverts without first tackling the reasons that cause some landlords to be unable to let to tenants claiming benefits.
See Adam speaking in this video.
Worse for Tenants and Landlords
Speaking to the Work & Pensions Committee on 24th April, Adam described OpenRent’s position on the issue.
If landlords are unable to let to tenants who claim benefits due to insurance or lending requirements, then banning them from making this clear upfront will only lead to frustration and wasted time for tenants and landlords alike.
In other words, banning the terminology without tackling the causes will only make the situation worse. 90% of our tenants on benefits do not want us to stop using ‘DSS Available’ on OpenRent.co.uk.
The End of Transparent Advertising?
Homelessness charity Shelter want to ban terms like ‘No DSS’ immediately. But without first tackling the underlying causes, this would only stop adverts from being transparent. It would stop thousands of tenants from being able to quickly filter out properties whose landlords are not able to let to them, making finding a property much harder.
We know from speaking to tenants and landlords, local authorities’ housing team workers, charities and interest groups, that OpenRent is known as a very useful tool for tenants who claim benefits.
OpenRent is the only letting agent that has over 1,000 live properties across the whole UK that explicitly indicate they are able to accept enquiries from tenants whose income is provided through benefits. All these properties are free from admin and agency fees to tenants.
We have also tried repeatedly to persuade other landlord service providers to change any practices which result in increased difficulty for tenants claiming benefits. We’re happy to see that things are beginning to change on this front, not least due to the work from Shelter, Generation Rent and others.
The Root Causes
With 1.6m users, we have a good understanding of the root causes of this issue, and we are determined to help address them. We know that, because of the way the benefits system has been structured, landlords are in a difficult position when deciding to let to tenants in receipt of benefits.
This ranges from mortgage restrictions, issues with referencing, insurance eligibility and security of benefit payments. Add to this a lack of clear information, stories about rent payments being reclaimed by councils, and the negative publicity over the Universal Credit rollout, and it is clear that some landlords have built up a perception of risk around tenants on benefits.
It isn’t easy for one company to tackle all of these issues, but we are committed to building a service that can make them easier. We’re very happy to work with all parties on this front. Our goal is always to make renting better for tenants and landlords.