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Campaign to end discrimination against tenants on benefits

More than one in three private landlords in Wales are potentially breaking the law by discriminating against tenants receiving benefits, according to new research from Shelter Cymru.

The housing charity launches a campaign this week to let landlords and tenants across Wales know that discrimination against any tenant because of their age, gender, disability, benefits status or any other characteristic is unlawful.

A survey found that 37 per cent of landlords said they don’t, or that they prefer not to, let to tenants on benefits.

Meanwhile the equivalent of more than 75,000 tenants across Wales have reported discrimination when trying to find their current home. Shelter Cymru says that each of them has been denied the right to a safe home due to a protected characteristic such as race or disability, or due to them being entitled to some sort of benefit. It argues that, whatever the unlawful reasoning behind the discrimination they faced, the impact this has on individuals, families and  communities is vast.

The charity is highlighting that Wales has got special protections in place to defend tenants from discrimination. Every landlord and letting agent undertakes to avoid discrimination when they sign up to the mandatory Rent Smart Wales Code of Practice.

However, it says that despite these protections, lack of awareness means that tenants are seeing some quite transparent attempts to discriminate against people, particularly against people who are entitled to some kind of benefit. Property listings stating ‘No DSS’ are common across Facebook Marketplace and other online platforms.

Shelter Cymru’s campaign aims to raise awareness among tenants that they can report cases of discrimination to Rent Smart Wales. The charity has worked with Rent Smart Wales to set up a reporting portal on the website sheltercymru.org.uk/join-the-fight-against-discrimination/ It has also published a range of resources to help tenants to challenge discrimination, and is calling on the public to pledge to support the campaign.

Ruth Power, chief executive of Shelter Cymru, said: ‘In the midst of a housing emergency, it’s hard enough for people across Wales to find a place to call to call home.  But the situation is made worse for some people as properties are still being advertised as “no DSS” or “no benefits”. Our research also highlights the devastating experience of people who are turned down from viewing or renting a home because of their gender identity, sexuality, ethnicity or disability. As well as being hurtful and offensive, we want to raise awareness that discrimination is against the law.

‘Anybody who experiences discrimination in seeking a home, or sees discriminatory practice, can report this on Shelter Cymru’s website. And we welcome the commitment from Rent Smart Wales to ensure that enforcement action will be taken against landlords/agents who discriminate.’


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