fbpx

Disabled Would-Be Tenant Discriminated Against by Letting Agency

18th March 2021 By

The much-criticised practice of some landlords and their agents of excluding those in receipt of state benefits from obtaining private rented accommodation has been effectively outlawed by a judge’s ruling on the basis that it amounts to indirect disability discrimination.

The case concerned an energetic and determined young man who wished to provide for his large family but who suffered from physical and mental disabilities, including an emotionally unstable personality disorder. He and his wife received state benefits, including housing benefit, which totalled over £2,400 a month. Living with a relative in very cramped conditions, he was desperate to find a new home to rent and identified three suitable properties that he could easily afford.

After he telephoned a letting agency, however, he was informed that none of the properties would be let to people on benefits and that it was company policy ‘not to accept DSS’, an acronym which refers to the long-defunct Department for Social Security. With the backing of housing charity Shelter, he launched proceedings against the agency under the Equality Act 2010 on the basis that it had operated an unlawful and discriminatory policy, criterion or practice (PCP).

Upholding his claim, the judge accepted his account of what was said during the phone call and noted that one of the properties had been advertised using the words ‘no pets, no smokers, no DSS’. The agency would have been aware from the trade press of controversy surrounding ‘no DSS’ policies and that they disadvantaged disabled people disproportionately.

Although the relevant PCP was applied to all the agency’s prospective tenants, statistics put forward by Shelter starkly underlined its particular impact on disabled people, who are between three and five times more likely to claim housing benefit than non-disabled people. They are thus also three to five times more likely to be excluded by ‘no DSS’ policies from obtaining private tenancies.

The man had suffered considerable distress following the phone call. He felt written off and disrespected because he was in receipt of state benefits. He considered that a lesser value had been placed on him as a human being than on others who receive their income by way of salary, trust fund or parental support. The judge ordered the agency to pay him £6,000 in damages to reflect the injury to his feelings.

Source: Concious

Latest News

Award That Requires Borrowing Made Into Court Order

17th May, 2024 By

Disagreements between separating couples all too often result in litigation that substantially reduces the assets available to them, as was illustrated by a case that recently reached the High Court. At issue was whether awards made by arbitrators in financial remedy proceedings can be made into court orders even if that would require one of the parties to borrow money. The couple had previously had a relationship lasting a few years before resuming their relationship in 2015. They had two children before separating again in 2019. Following their separation, the...

Inheritance Disputes – Costs Risks Can Be Reduced

15th May, 2024 By

Arguments about what someone promised before their death can lead to significant legal costs. However, if faced with a claim against the estate, there may be steps the beneficiaries or executors can take to reduce the risks, as a recent High Court case illustrated. A man had left a farmhouse and agricultural land in Cornwall to his wife, with whom he had also jointly owned a neighbouring area of land. After his death, one of the couple's daughters and her husband claimed that he had told them he wanted them...

Share Rounding Error Does Not Prevent CGT Relief

13th May, 2024 By

There are often very specific rules that must be complied with in order to claim tax reliefs, but if a small mistake arises, the courts may be able to provide assistance. In a recent case, the First-tier Tribunal (FTT) found that an investor was entitled to Entrepreneurs' Relief on the disposal of his shares in a company, despite owning one share fewer than he needed to qualify for it. The investor had agreed to purchase 5 per cent of the shares in the company for £500,000. He wished to own...

Wife Entitled to Maintenance Until Sale of Family Home

10th May, 2024 By

When divorcing couples disagree on how assets should be divided, the courts will seek to arrive at a fair outcome for both parties. In deciding how the proceeds of sale of a former couple's home should be apportioned, the Family Court agreed with the wife that she should receive maintenance payments until the sale took place. The couple had married in 2006. Following a brief separation, they had reconciled for two years before finally separating in 2022. The husband and wife both contended that they should be entitled to about...