Discrimination against renters in Richmond must stop
Hundreds of local people are unfairly locked out of renting homes they could otherwise afford simply because they receive some benefits to pay towards their housing costs.
Research by Citizens Advice Richmond shows that many landlords and letting agents refuse to consider tenants as soon as they discover that they receive benefits. They are often confronted with a blanket ‘No DSS’, ‘No Universal Credit’ or ‘No Benefits’ policy even when they can demonstrate they can afford the monthly rent.
Our campaign to End Benefit Prejudice against renters aims to raise awareness that any policy that automatically outlaws benefit claimants discriminates and is unlawful. ‘No Benefits’ discrimination can have a direct and devastating impact on the lives of people who receive benefits. It causes stress and anxiety, forces people to remain in unsuitable and unsafe accommodation, and can lead to homelessness.
Citizens Advice Richmond helps Richmond residents on low incomes who are facing discrimination and unfair barriers to renting every day. Many clients have lived in the borough for a long time and despite rising costs and low incomes manage to afford their rents. More than four in ten Richmond residents receiving benefits are working.
One in five households rent privately
More than one in five households in Richmond rent privately but housing is scarce. Richmond Council works with the most vulnerable across the borough to source suitable housing and enable them to live in safe accommodation. However, there are many other residents on low incomes who rely on the private sector, which is an important source of local housing.
Myths and unfair attitudes must be dispelled
The campaign aims to dispel myths and to change the attitudes of local letting agents. Many simply refuse to deal with renters who receive benefits, but others put up artificial barriers – such as unreasonably high deposits or unnecessary guarantor requirements – which renters on low incomes cannot meet.
What we are doing
Citizens Advice Richmond advises over 3,000 Richmond people every year on housing issues and as part of the campaign we are strengthening our advice to clients to help them understand their rights and to give them the tools to challenge letting agents when they come up against discrimination.
We are also working with landlords and letting agents to change attitudes and to promote best practice.
Are you trying to rent in Richmond?
If you are facing discrimination by landlords or letting agents because you receive benefits, you can read our one-page guidance here: Receive benefits and struggling to rent in Richmond Final 2
- Read the Shelter advice on how you can challenge discrimination against people receiving benefits
- Read our advice about renting from a private landlord
- Read Richmond Council’s advice about finding a place to rent
- Get advice from Citizens Advice Richmond on Freephone 080 82 78 78 73
In support of the campaign, we filmed videos with Cllr Jim Millard, lead member for housing on Richmond Council, Sarah Olney MP for Richmond Park and with staff from Ethical Lettings.
Here are some of the campaign videos.
Every week we advise many people looking for private rental accommodation who face discrimination
Tom has been given two months’ notice to leave his family’s rented property where they have lived for eight years. He is on a low income and is struggling to find a new home. Local letting agents will not deal with him because he is also receiving some benefits. He wants to stay living locally as his son receives specialist support in school.
Sally has a serious illness and is facing a “no fault” eviction from her privately rented flat. She is finding it very difficult to find a new home because many landlords tell her they will not deal with people who receive benefits.
Landlord or letting agent?
Find out more about our campaign, and receive notifications about relevant events: contact us here
Are you a partner organisation?
Read our two page guide for Advisers about helping people facing benefit prejudice here: Adviser Guide clients facing benefit prejudice final
Find out more, and join our campaign: contact us here