Take care when rejecting prospective tenants

Many private individuals have purchased houses to let out to tenants with a view to using the rental income as an alternative to a pension. Many landlords would assume that they can choose their tenant and can decline an applicant if they wish.

A recent case suggests that this might not be the safest course of action.

In the case, a single mother on benefits had her application to rent a property refused by the letting agent, despite the fact that she had rented her previous property for 11 years and always paid her rent on time. She decided to take action having been rejected for the tenancy.

She won compensation for sex discrimination from the lettings agency by successfully arguing that blanket bans on benefit claimants indirectly discriminated against women, especially single women. This is because they are proportionately more likely to be claiming housing benefit than single men, according to official figures.

The case is not binding but is an indication that the blanket bans on tenants on benefits might amount to indirect sexual discrimination.

If you are a buy to let landlord, there are a number of other important obligations that you have, including rental properties having to achieve a grade E energy efficiency rating on the Energy Performance Certificate from April 2018, and the need to comply with the 2016 right to rent legislation. With mortgage interest relief being reduced for buy to let landlords it is important for buy to let landlords to avoid these expensive traps.

To discuss this or any other landlord and tenant related issue, contact us.

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