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Shelter has notched up another win in its campaign stop landlords and agents putting a catch-all ban on tenants in receipt of social benefits.
In July Shelter declared a York County Court ruling ‘historic’ after District Judge Victoria Elizabeth Mark held that rejecting a tenant on the basis that the applicant was in receipt of housing benefit was unlawful because indirectly discriminated on the grounds of sex and disability.
Now a similar ruling has come from the Birmingham County Court, where Judge Mary Stacey ruled that a blanket policy that no one in receipt of housing benefit would be considered as a possible tenant put disabled people at a particular disadvantage.
The case involved Stephen Tyler who has used a wheelchair since a road traffic accident in December 2016 and needs substantial personal care. This is mainly provided by his wife, who also cares for their young children.
It was said the Tyler family received s21 notice to quit the home they rented after asking their landlord to make ‘disability adaptation’ to their accommodation. Subsequently they were unable to find alternative rented accommodation because of their DSS status.
He was barred from viewing properties advertised by a Birmingham estate agent simply because he was in receipt of housing benefit.
‘There is no doubt that there was a blanket policy that no one in receipt of housing benefit would be considered for the three properties’, said the Judge. ‘It put the claimant and other disabled people at a particular disadvantage when compared to others.
She ruled that the agent had unlawfully discriminated against Stephen Tyler.
He had been supported by Shelter and was represented by Tessa Buchanan, who had successfully argued the July case.
‘Shelter has been fighting “No DSS” discrimination for the past two years because we know it pushes people to the brink of homelessness and leaves many feeling worthless’, said the charity’s chief executive Polly Neate.
‘This win proves yet again that blanket bans against people on housing benefit are unlawful because they overwhelmingly bar women and disabled people like Stephen, who are more likely to need help with their rent, from finding a safe home.
‘It’s senseless that people who can afford private rents are being forced into homelessness by blind prejudice. It’s now time for landlords and letting agents to do better; they must consider tenants fairly based on their ability to afford the rent – not where their income comes from. And Shelter will continue campaigning until “No DSS” is fully stamped out’.