A recent research has uncovered that a staggering eight out of 10 landlords in Belfast do not accept tenants who are in receipt of housing benefit. This comes despite a ruling stating that discrimination against tenants in receipt of benefits was ‘unlawful and discriminatory’.

OpenRent an online letting agent has stated that landlords are permitted to list their properties with ‘accept DSS income’ so tenants do not waste time applying for properties where there is a ‘secret no DSS policy’. The fact that there is a `Secret’ no DSS policy for a large number of landlords means that the true percentage of landlords breaking the law is most likely even higher.

Chris Bailie Workers’ Party representative for North Belfast has stated ‘Research has shown that landlords who rent to tenants in receipt of housing benefit still make a profit, in fact those in receipt of housing benefit are more likely to rent for longer periods of time’.

Bailie continued ‘the excuse given by landlords for this ‘secret’ discrimination has been that banks and insurers view tenants in receipt of housing benefit as a higher risk in turn increasing premiums. Some mortgage agreements even block renting of properties to those on benefits.’

Bailie concluded ‘The time has come for this sort of discrimination to stop. In light of the recent pandemic where we have seen how people’s circumstances can literally change overnight, coupled with the rising level of unemployment, now more than ever renters need protection and we must ensure that there is no discrimination against renters for their financial circumstances whether working or unemployed.’