Rightmove advertising restrictions for DSS/HB

No housing benefits’ in letting listings – an update from the government and action required

You may remember that earlier this year the government announced plans to work with key stakeholders in the industry to end the practice of advertisements that exclude tenants receiving housing benefit.

At the time, we asked the government for clarity because their guidance on consumer protection law for letting agents states that any restrictions on the type of tenant such as a housing benefit claimant should be included in an advertisement.

The Competition & Markets Authority has now updated that guidance, and we would ask you to review your rental listings to reflect the updated information.
What does the updated guidance from the Competition and Markets Authority say?
  • You should mention a housing benefit restriction if, and only if, a landlord has a term in a contract, such as a mortgage contract, that restricts them from renting to someone on benefits
  • If you mention that there is a restriction in a term of a contract and there isn’t one, this would be misleading
  • The CMA would be concerned if terms that specify that a property cannot be occupied by a person in receipt of housing benefit are currently being included in any new contracts
You may be aware that over the past year the vast majority of mortgage lenders including Natwest, Nationwide, the Cooperative Bank and Metro Bank have removed this restriction from their terms. We would anticipate that in almost all cases there will be no restrictions placed on landlords.

There are very few agents who still reference ‘no housing benefit’ in their listings on Rightmove and we already strip out the term ‘No DSS’ in all rental listings.
What should I do now?
  • If you have a landlord who says they still have a restrictive term in a contract then the specific term should be included in the listing so tenants are aware, and you should have evidence to support this claim
  • Otherwise, there should be no mention of any restriction against someone receiving housing benefit in your listings
Here is the clarification in full:
Clarification
3.10.19: The CMA included the example of ‘housing benefit claimants’ in this guidance (page 49) to account for circumstances where a particular property cannot be let by a landlord to those on housing benefit, i.e. when a term of a contract, such as a mortgage contract, specifies this, as this would constitute material information for would-be tenants (equally, claiming that such a term exists when it does not would be misleading). Where such restrictions do exist for a specific property they need to be brought to the attention of prospective tenants. The inclusion of housing benefit claimants as an example does not justify or excuse letting agents or property portals having blanket bans in place against those on housing benefit.

In March 2019 the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government announced plans to look at letting adverts which potentially discriminate against would-be tenants on housing benefit and made clear these should end. In light of this, the CMA would be concerned if terms that specify that a property cannot be occupied by a person in receipt of housing benefit are currently being included in any new contracts.

 


























































































































































































































































































































































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‘No housing benefits’ in letting listings – an update from the government and action required
You may remember that earlier this year the government announced plans to work with key stakeholders in the industry to end the practice of advertisements that exclude tenants receiving housing benefit.

At the time, we asked the government for clarity because their guidance on consumer protection law for letting agents states that any restrictions on the type of tenant such as a housing benefit claimant should be included in an advertisement.

The Competition & Markets Authority has now updated that guidance, and we would ask you to review your rental listings to reflect the updated information.
What does the updated guidance from the Competition and Markets Authority say?
  • You should mention a housing benefit restriction if, and only if, a landlord has a term in a contract, such as a mortgage contract, that restricts them from renting to someone on benefits
  • If you mention that there is a restriction in a term of a contract and there isn’t one, this would be misleading
  • The CMA would be concerned if terms that specify that a property cannot be occupied by a person in receipt of housing benefit are currently being included in any new contracts
You may be aware that over the past year the vast majority of mortgage lenders including Natwest, Nationwide, the Cooperative Bank and Metro Bank have removed this restriction from their terms. We would anticipate that in almost all cases there will be no restrictions placed on landlords.

There are very few agents who still reference ‘no housing benefit’ in their listings on Rightmove and we already strip out the term ‘No DSS’ in all rental listings.
What should I do now?
  • If you have a landlord who says they still have a restrictive term in a contract then the specific term should be included in the listing so tenants are aware, and you should have evidence to support this claim
  • Otherwise, there should be no mention of any restriction against someone receiving housing benefit in your listings
Here is the clarification in full:
Clarification
3.10.19: The CMA included the example of ‘housing benefit claimants’ in this guidance (page 49) to account for circumstances where a particular property cannot be let by a landlord to those on housing benefit, i.e. when a term of a contract, such as a mortgage contract, specifies this, as this would constitute material information for would-be tenants (equally, claiming that such a term exists when it does not would be misleading). Where such restrictions do exist for a specific property they need to be brought to the attention of prospective tenants. The inclusion of housing benefit claimants as an example does not justify or excuse letting agents or property portals having blanket bans in place against those on housing benefit.

In March 2019 the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government announced plans to look at letting adverts which potentially discriminate against would-be tenants on housing benefit and made clear these should end. In light of this, the CMA would be concerned if terms that specify that a property cannot be occupied by a person in receipt of housing benefit are currently being included in any new contracts.


Read the Government guidance here.

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Posted on Tuesday, October 8, 2019