PROPERTY website Zoopla will ban agents and landlords from blocking benefit claimants in rental adverts from April.
The move comes after a recent study showed that one in ten Zoopla listings barred those on benefits from becoming a tenant.
Alamy Agents and landlords on Zoopla will soon be restricted from barring benefit claimants
Zoopla, which also owns PrimeLocation, said the new measures include amending the Zoopla member terms and conditions to prohibit the inclusion of “no DSS” restrictions on the website.
This stands for “no Department for Social Security” and is based on the former welfare department.
The property website will also remove the reference from listings uploaded to its website and from search fields on its software.
Around 889,000 households receive housing benefit to help pay their rent, out of about 4.5 million households living in private rental accommodation.
Earlier this month, Housing Minister Heather Wheeler announced plans to look at “no DSS” or “no housing benefit” adverts as part of an effort to create a fairer housing market.
She warned that if the sector was unwilling to take action then the Government would “explore all options to remove this practice”.
How to haggle with your landlord and bring down your rentWHEN you first sign your tenancy agreement with your landlord your rent should be agreed either in writing or verbally.
To increase your rent your landlord must send you a section 13 notice which gives you a month’s notice in writing telling you how much your rent will be increased by and the date when your rent will go up.
At this stage you should try to talk to your landlord and come to a fair agreement on how much rent you should pay.
Your landlord can only raise your rent if you agree to the increased price.
Matt Hutchinson, communications director for flatsharing website SpareRoom.com said that if you are a good tenant then you’ve got bargaining power.
“The first thing to bear in mind is that demand is lower at the moment than over the past couple of years.
“That means you’ve got a bit more bargaining power, especially if you’ve been a good tenant, as your landlord won’t want the expense and hassle of having to find another tenant and even potentially face a period with the property empty.
“Failing that, it’s worth seeing if you can get anything thrown in with a rent increase, such as minor bits of redecorating or any bills.”
Landbay have a free rent check service to see how much rent you should be paying in your area.
You can find the rent check service here.
Find out more about how to haggle with your landlord to bring your rent down here.
Charlie Bryant, managing director of Zoopla, said: “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.”
Polly Neate, chief executive at charity Shelter, welcomed the move. She said: “For far too long, perfectly good tenants have been barred from renting a home simply because they receive housing benefit – but changes like these show the tide is turning and DSS discrimination will not be tolerated.
“If a leading name like Zoopla can play its part in treating customers fairly, on a case-by-case basis, then others can too.”
PA:Press Association About 4.5 million British households live in private rental accommodation
And Chris Town, vice chair of the Residential Landlords Association, said: “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 includes building on the changes already made, such as giving tenants the right to choose if they want to have the housing element of Universal Credit paid directly to their landlord, as well as working with lenders to remove mortgage terms that prevent landlords renting to benefit claimants, he added.
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Letting agents will be banned from charging tenants rip-off fees from June 1, saving renters hundreds of pounds.
Until then, renters are expected to spend an eye-watering £154MILLION on fees, The Sun revealed in January.
The ban could also push up rents for tenants by more than £100 a year.
Billy a Hartlepool lettings agent struggles to collect rent from tenants on Universal Credit on Skint Britain
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