lpm wrote: ↑
Tue Jul 21, 2020 11:02 am
This is about practicalities, not law. Covert discrimination existed before this ruling (when it was already recognised that "no DSS" wasn't a position you could go to court on). Is there any reason to suppose covert discrimination won't carry on as before?
Of course it will carry on covertly. See the seventh post in this thread. That's one reason to make a big fuss about the decision, so people know what their rights are and can take action if they spot it happening to them. Sometimes they won't know, sometimes they will.
There are loads of reasons why people are unable to enforce their rights (or rights they should have). They range from not being able to prove what has happened, not being able to get legal representation, the law itself being insufficient (deliberately or otherwise), people not knowing what their rights are, the court process being too intimidating, other methods of resolving problems outside the court system lacking any teeth, and they are just the obvious ones. Nobody who has ever tried to help people understand and enforce their rights would even think of arguing otherwise. This issue alone took years of litigation. Should we just give up then and make it every man for himself? Scrap every bit of legislation that purportedly protects individual rights because people will carry on breaching them anyway, either secretly or out in the open?
In the meantime, there may well be landlords and agents who change their practices, or perhaps landlords who felt a bit iffy about letting to people on benefits but weren't really sure, found out they couldn't blanket refuse them and so change their behaviour from what they would have done. I don't know what proportion of landlords that would be, it may be a tiny minority at least to start with but that's better than nothing.
To end this discrimination, you have to explore why the discrimination exists. It doesn't exist because most LL are evil bastards but because they have a large financial risk at stake, as Millennie Al said. It costs many thousands in lost rental income and legal costs to evict someone who's had their benefits cancelled - likely over ten thousand in London - and private LLs (e.g. someone who owns a flat but is working abroad for two years and needs to rent the flat to cover the mortgage) are rationally frightened of this risk.
Yes and in my reply to Millennie Al I went through each of the risks they put forward; each situation related to a pretty specific set of circumstances that can be mitigated against by doing proper referencing checks and making sure your tenancy agreement is up to scratch. It can't eliminate risk but risk is part of running a business, isn't it. People also keep bringing up these 'accidental' or partly accidental landlords. What proportion of the landlord population do these people take up? And what about someone who doesn't own a flat and works abroad for two years and doesn't have the luxury of choosing to keep their flat in the UK while they do that? They would be reliant on a benevolent landlord allowing them to leave the property unoccupied or perhaps to arrange for some sort of guardian to look after it while they're away, but that's going to be a pretty unusual situation.
The discussion always seems to come round to 'what about the landlords?' What about them? I suspect most landlords have chosen to go into this line of business and they need to be prepared to take on the risk that entails. People who are so poor they need to claim benefits *need* a roof over their head, there is no choice about it. And as has been demonstrated in the OP, most of the people in this situation are going to be women (and therefore probably more likely to be caring for children) and disabled people. I'm not arguing that there's no rationality to it; I'm saying it's a cop out and protection should be in place to prevent it from happening.
Do you think it would be reasonable to ask prospective tenants to disclose if they are say, in remission from cancer treatment (and therefore potentially at risk of a drop in income if they get ill again), or if they have elderly parents they might need to quit their job for to look after?
The tenant & housing issue has to be based on the practicalities of the real world. We have a benefits system that is not particularly compatible with "DSS" tenants renting from the casual private LL. A law case clarifying that no DSS is unlawful does not change anything on the ground, except to generate more techniques to keep it covert, so I'm not sure why this case should be celebrated. There's a far deeper structural issue that needs to be addressed - and the answer is probably to attack on the social LL/housing association front, not the private LL front.
Yes, that sound you heard last week was every person who has ever campaigned for housing rights sitting back, sighing and going 'right, no DSS banned, that's the housing crisis sorted at last then! Best go pursue my second career as a hedge fund manager so I can make a massive wodge of money before I retire'.