23 Apr 2021

Another lettings agency has been found to have unlawfully discriminated against a tenant receiving benefits.

Worthing County Court declared that Michael Jones & Company unlawfully refused to show Hayley Pearce a potential rental property because she receives benefits. 

According to campaigning charity Shelter, which took up the case on the tenant’s behalf, an agency employee told Pearce over the phone that people in receipt of benefits would not be acceptable’ to the landlord, without checking whether she could afford the rent. “Because Hayley is a woman, this simple rejection constituted unlawful indirect discrimination on the grounds of sex under the Equality Act 2010” says Shelter.

The agent and landlord were ordered to pay damages of £4,500 and the tenant’s legal fees.

Shelter says: “Hayley’s case against Michael Jones & Company is one of three she has taken on in the last two years, and the only one to reach a final hearing at court. 

“The other two were smart enough to admit their mistakes, settle before trial, and collectively paid Hayley damages and legal costs of almost £15,000 in total. 

“In one of these two cases, the landlord of the property Hayley wanted to view said she had no idea that her agents were refusing to help people receiving benefits. She herself was once a single mum who needed housing support in the past, The landlord was shocked and ashamed that her letting agent behaved in this way.”

Last year Midlands agency Paul Carr told disabled tenant Stephen Tyler it had a policy of not accepting renters receiving benefits, triggering a case at Birmingham County Court. The agency lost.

And last summer a court in York found a single mother of two had experienced direct discrimination when a letting agent in the city refused to rent to her.

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