A recent investigation of 50 estate agents carried out by Hackney based tenant’s group DIGS found that just one studio flat was available for people on benefits in the entire borough.
The phrase No DSS will be all too familiar to anyone on benefits who has tried to secure a home. It is a meaningless phrase, referring to a government department that no longer exists. What it actually means is no Housing Benefit. and it is used to discriminate against the poorest tenants whether they be low paid, out of work due to unemployment, sickness or disability, are parents or pensioners.
In some cities wages for many full-time jobs do not come close to meeting ever increasing rents. The so-called ‘Living Wage’ is not even enough to pay an ‘Affordable Rent’ in many parts of London. Tenants who have to rely on Housing Benefit to pay some of their rent are increasingly being excluded from the private sector completely.
This is something many people do not understand. It is hard to find a home if you are poor. Even if you can raise the eye-watering deposits demanded by landlords, or pass their credit and reference checks, then if you need benefits to top up your rent you will be rejected. These policies are a key driver of homelessness. In the case of disabled people they are almost certainly illegal under the Equalities Act. But still it continues as the private rental sector operates as an outlaw class, ignoring laws they don’t like, openly boasting of their discrimination on landlord’s websites and treating their tenants – the ones buying them a house in many cases – with complete contempt.
With social housing fast disappearing then it is time to consign this nasty bigotry to history. A campaign launched by DIGS in response to their investigation is a good start. As they say:
“At Digs, we believe that everyone should have a decent, secure and genuinely affordable home regardless of how much they earn. We also believe that people shouldn’t be forced out of areas like Hackney simply so that landlords and estate agents can make greater profits.
“We’re launching our #YesDSS campaign this month to put pressure on letting agents, landlords, mortgage lenders, councils and the government to make sure that no-one should be prevented from renting a property simply because they receive benefits.
“This is why we’re launching our #YesDSS campaign this Saturday (27th Feb), 11am outside Hackney Town Hall and ask you to invite all your friends and come down: https://www.facebook.com/events/183799625313280/”
Please spread the word!
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