child housekey

28 Mar 23

Shelter says it welcomes a ruling by The Property Ombudsman that agents and landlords exercising a blanket ban on tenants with children may be guilty of discrimination.

Last week TPO – one of two redress bodies for letting agents – ruled that an agency’s ban on renting to a family with children was discriminatory against women and contravened its code of practice. 

Now Rose Arnall, a solicitor at Shelter, says: “No one should be barred from finding a safe and stable home simply because they have children. Whether you can secure a home must not be based on a landlord or letting agent’s baseless prejudices about the ‘type’ of tenant you might be. This is a great step forward in addressing the power imbalance which sees tenants hitting unfair barriers and being forced to jump through ridiculous hoops.”

The TPO ruling – which, unusually, does not name any letting agency concerned – came after NHS Nurse Lexi Levens challenged a number of agents after she and her four children had been forced to register as homeless. That came following receipt of a Section 21 eviction notice: she and her husband passed affordability checks but say they were not able to find landlords or letting agents who would rent to them.

Shelter took up the case to The Property Ombudsman which has ruled that ‘no children’ bans breach equality rules set out in its code of practice because women are disproportionately affected.

Levens says in a statement released via Shelter: “My situation was nothing short of distressing and humiliating. I’m so thrilled by the outcome of the challenge, this has never been about money for me, but about putting a stop to families like mine being treated unfairly.”

The director of policy at TPO, Peter Habert, comments: “Whilst rental properties are investments for landlords, they are homes for tenants. To be excluded from a significant portion of the homes available simply because you have children cannot be considered as treating consumers equally.

“Prospective tenants should only expect to see these restrictions in property adverts and listings if the property is unsuitable, for example it doesn’t have enough space.”

He warns that agents who receive an instruction from a landlord to not let to families should ask the client to provide evidence of why a ban is appropriate and for this to be given to prospective tenants.

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