Letting agents and landlords have been urged to drop blanket bans on housing benefit claimants after a single mother successfully argued that a lettings agency discriminated against her.
Rosie Keogh won compensation for sex discrimination after she successfully argued that a lettings agency’s blanket ban on benefit claimants indirectly discriminated against women, especially single women, who are disproportionately likely to claim housing benefit.
After the agent, Nicholas George, dismissed her letter of complaint, she launched a discrimination claim in Birmingham County Court. Within 18 months, the agent admitted indirect discrimination on the grounds of her sex and settled out of court with £2,000 compensation.
Rose Arnall, legal officer at Shelter, which supported Ms Keogh’s case, said: “By applying a blanket policy, [landlords] are actually preventing good tenants from accessing the private rented sector.
“Women are more likely to be caring for children and therefore working part-time and are therefore more likely to top up their income by claiming housing benefit.”
Polly Neate, chief executive of Shelter, added: “Our advisers repeatedly hear from desperate mothers battling to find someone willing to let to them, in spite of being able to pay the rent.
“We are urging all landlords and letting agents to get rid of ‘no DSS’ policies, and treat people fairly on a case-by-case basis.”