United Kingdom

Ombudsman says no to blanket bans on kids

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Two adults and two children carrying cardboard moving boxes into a building

The Property Ombudsman (TPO) has decided that blanket bans on children in rented properties are discriminatory.

In TPO’s ruling, made in a case backed by activist group Shelter, it said that blanket bans break equality rules as they disproportionately affect women.

Letting agents who include “no children” in rental listings or refuse to accept children in properties will be in breach of TPO’s Code of Practice and may have to pay compensation to those affected – even if instructed to act in breach of the ruling by the landlord.

All letting agents in England must sign up with a redress scheme, and TPO is one of just two officially licensed schemes, meaning the ruling will apply to a large number of agents. The other official scheme, the Property Redress Scheme, has not yet made a similar ruling. However, their Head of Redress, Sean Hooker, welcomed TPO’s decision and said that his own organisation followed similar guidelines.

The upcoming Renters’ Reform Bill is also expected to outlaw blanket bans on families with children.

A win for parents?

The ruling will make it more difficult for agents and landlords to ban families with children outright, but it may not make it much easier for them to find homes.

In 2020, a court ruled that “No DSS” policies by landlords and letting agents (blanket bans on tenants receiving benefits) are unlawful, using the same indirect discrimination argument as the TPO.

Despite this, tenants claiming benefits still find it difficult to find properties to rent. In the 2021 English Private Landlord Survey, 44% of landlords said they would be unwilling to rent to tenants who claim Universal Credit or other housing support.

Parents are in a somewhat better position – only around 15% of landlords reported being unwilling to rent to someone with dependent children. Still, there are no guarantees. Amid a housing shortage, landlords and agents could pick childless applicants from the large available pool of renters without officially resorting to discriminatory policies.

Other tenant headlines
36% of tenants would accept a rent increase from a good landlord – LandlordZONE

Labour activist appointed as director of Generation Rent – Landlord Today

High proportion of renters want more government cost-of-living support – Property Reporter

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