A Different Way To Fight Housing Discrimination

statue of justice
Indy Photo Coach - Justice Statue with light painting photo by Serge Melki is licensed under CC BY 2.0
England's courts rule on discrimination to broaden tenants' access to housing.

On July 1, an English a court handed down a ruling to make it easier for people who receive social assistance to move to housing in the private rental market.

For years, private letting agents refused to rent to people receiving assistance. It was no secret. The phrase “no DSS” appeared in ads for vacant units and the first question to prospective tenants was about their source of income. If housing assistance was disclosed, the letting agents informed prospective tenants that their application would not be considered as as a matter of policy.

Housing advocates began a “No to no DSS” campaign in 2018, arguing that the practice was discriminatory. The court decision adds weight to a public shaming campaign that targetted the three largest letting agents, making it illegal to refuse to rent to tenants who receive social assistance.

The decision estabishes that “no DSS” is discriminatory and illegal. This course of action could be worth considering in other jurisdictions, particularly the US, where housing is not a right and states can and do allow landlords to ignore housing assistance vouchers.

Read more about this decision in I: ‘No DSS’ bans on housing benefit ruled unlawful: what the court ruling means for tenants