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Housing

Rightmove is following the crowd in banning ‘No DSS’ adverts

After Zoopla scrapped the term in ads and the government pledged a crackdown, the online property giant is removing it too following an 80,000 signature-strong petition

The bid to end discrimination for renters has seen a move away from ‘No DSS’ adverts and now Rightmove are the latest to bow to pressure to do the same.

A petition calling for the online property giant to axe the ads, which sees landlords reject any prospective tenants who are receiving Universal Credit or housing benefit, has reached almost 80,000 signatures – as seen in The Big Issue’s Big List this week.

In recent months, Rightmove’s online rival Zoopla has vowed to remove any ‘No DSS’ terms on their website while NatWest has confirmed that they will no longer prevent landlords on their buy-to-let mortgages from renting to people on benefits.

We believe all prospective tenants should have equal access to the widest possible selection of properties

And the government has also laid out plans to crackdown on the practice too, with homelessness minister Heather Wheeler planning to meet with mortgage providers, landlord associations, tenant groups and property websites to bring in a ban.

That action earned praise from housing campaigners with the National Housing Federation chief executive Kate Henderson calling for “other mortgage lenders and businesses to follow suit”.

Rightmove are the latest firm to react – axing “old language” (DSS stands for Department of Social Security – a title which hasn’t been used since it was replaced by the Department for Work and Pensions in 2001) and writing to letting agents to ask them to outline any restrictions.

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This would involve explaining that mortgage providers prevent lending to claimants on a case-by-case basis – but as mentioned above, NatWest have changed their policies, as have Nationwide and the Co-operative Bank in recent months.

They will also be introducing technology that will automatically remove ‘No DSS’ from the website in May.

“We believe all prospective tenants should have equal access to the widest possible selection of properties,” a Rightmove spokesperson told The Big Issue.

Not enough of a Rightmove

“We’ve asked all of our letting agent customers to explain in their advertisements if a landlord is unable to consider a tenant receiving benefits and why this is. This is in line with guidance from the Competition & Markets Authority that states that the restriction should be mentioned if there is one.

“We’ll also be stripping out old language such as No DSS from advertisements from May.”

Renter rights have been under the microscope this week already – with section 21 orders set to be scrapped in England and Wales to prevent landlords from evicting tenants without providing a reason.

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