ONLY eight per cent of houses and flats available to rent in Worcestershire are being offered to those on housing benefit, one website listings suggests. 

On popular website flat and house share site, Spare Room, there are only a handful of properties in Worcestershire listed as ‘housing benefits considered’- when selected, this filter displays properties which can definitely be rented by those on housing benefits.

This is despite a July court ruling that made it unlawful for landlords to blanket ban people on benefits, as it went against the 2010 Equality Act.

At the moment in Worcestershire, there are 249 rooms for rent on Spare Room- but out of those, only 21 of them are being offered to those who claim benefits.

'We’re changing the advertising process'

A spokesperson for Spare Room said they support the July court ruling and insist that the filter was added “to help people who rely on housing benefit to find available properties.”

They added: “We realised that many rooms were listed as unavailable to people on benefits, so wanted to stop them wasting time contacting people, only to find out they couldn’t rent the room.”

They went onto explain that that some Buy to Let mortgages still prohibit landlords from renting to people who receive housing benefit.

They added: “As a result, we’re changing the advertising process so that a specific mortgage clause is the only reason we’ll allow for saying they won’t rent to tenants on benefits.

“We’ll make it clear on the ads which these are so tenants can filter them out if needed.”

Since writing this article, Spare Room have now changed their 'housing benefits considered' filter to 'hide ads that can't accept housing benefit (due to mortgage/insurance restrictions)'.

The historic 'No DSS' court hearing


Earlier this year, housing benefit discrimination was judged to be unlawful and in breach of the Equality Act.

District Judge, Victoria Elizabeth Mark, declared in the court that: “Rejecting tenancy applications because the applicant is in receipt of housing benefit was unlawfully indirectly discriminatory on the grounds of sex and disability, contrary to […] the Equality Act 2010.”

Housing charity, Shelter, are part of the reason why the historic court case on housing benefit discrimination was passed.

They campaigned about the issue for years and one of their clients, Jane, was even used as a case study during the hearing.

Polly Neate, chief executive of Shelter, said there is “no need” for DSS accepting filters to exist on property sites.

She added: “No DSS discrimination overwhelmingly bars women and disabled people – who are more likely to need help paying their rent – from finding a safe place to live.

“In the worst cases, ‘No DSS’ policies have left people homeless.

“That means there should be no need for ‘DSS accepted’ filters, because private rentals should be advertised as available to any prospective tenant who can afford to live in them, regardless of where their income comes from.”

Renting in the coronavirus pandemic

Further ‘no DSS' barriers could make an already difficult renting situation seem impossible for those on benefits during this uncertain time.

According to the most up-to-date government data, over 31,000 people in Worcestershire were claiming housing benefit in May 2018- long before the coronavirus pandemic struck.

According to data from the Office for National Statistics, the number of people in work fell by 220,000 during lockdown and those claiming unemployment benefits surged to 2.7 million between March and July.

Furlough schemes are currently set to end on October 31st the ban on tenant evictions will be lifted on 20th September.

Generation Rent is an organisation which campaigns for the rights of renters; they are currently raising awareness for and protecting renters during the pandemic.

Dan Wilson Craw, Deputy Director of Generation Rent, said: “A landlord should make their decision to let a property on the basis of the tenant’s ability to pay, not whether some of their income is from benefits.

“Rental listings sites should not be helping landlords to discriminate.

 “Tenants who can’t find a landlord who will let to them could find help from their local council, which has a duty to prevent homelessness.”

If you are having issues with rental discrimination you can contact Shelter England- they can give you some advice about what to do next.

There is even a template letter on Shelter’s website which you can send to landlords and agents, alongside lots of free and expert housing advice at

Generation Rent are also collecting examples of bad rental practice- you can tell your story through their website.