Zoopla to minimise renters on benefits restrictions

Zoopla will launch additional measures over coming weeks, in support of further minimising blanket restrictions which apply to renters who receive housing benefit.

Zoopla will be amending its member terms and conditions to specifically prohibit the inclusion of “No DSS” restrictions on the site; implementing a process to remove “No DSS” references from listings uploaded to the Zoopla website; and removing the “No DSS” fields in its cloud-based software products.

Charlie Bryant, managing director of Zoopla, said: “We fully support the recommendations of the NLA and the RLA, which oppose blanket bans against tenants in receipt of housing-related benefits, and are pleased to be taking action which clarifies this position.

“All tenants who are looking to rent a property deserve the chance to be fully assessed for their suitability and matched to a home that suits both their and the landlord’s circumstances.

“We proactively sought the views of our largest lettings-focused agents to ensure the above measures were undertaken on a collaborative basis and received significant support in respect of our proposed additional measures.”

These implantations are in support of the recommendations from the National Landlords Association (NLA) and Residential Landlord’s Association (RLA) and should be rolled out in April.

Chris Town, vice chair of the Residential Landlords Association (RLA), said: “We welcome today’s announcement from Zoopla which comes after extensive campaigning by the RLA.

“Landlords should not refuse someone solely because they are on benefits, and should consider prospective tenants on a case by case basis.

“But with growing numbers of benefit claimants now reliant on the private rented sector we need to do more to give tenants and landlords greater confidence in the benefits system.

“This means building on positive changes already made by the government by giving all tenants the right to choose if they want to have the housing element of Universal Credit paid directly to their landlord; working with bank lenders to remove mortgage terms that prevent landlords renting to benefit claimants as NatWest has already done; and ending the Local Housing Allowance freeze which has meant benefits bear little resemblance to rents.

“We look forward to working constructively with the Government to address these issues.”

RLA research has found that the average amount owed by Universal Credit tenants in rent arrears increased by half from just over £1,600 in 2017 to almost £2,400 in 2018.

Around two thirds of the largest buy-to-let mortgage lenders do not allow landlords to rent property to tenants receiving housing benefits.

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