A private landlord or letting agent should provide a reason if they reject your application to rent a home. It may be discrimination if you feel that you’ve been treated unfairly or differently because:
Keep copies of the letter, any other documents you send, and any documents you receive from the landlord or letting agent.
Escalating your complaint
If your complaint is against a letting agent and you want to take your complaint further, you should be able to escalate the complaint to the Property Ombudsman or Property Redress Scheme. These are schemes that regulate lettings agencies.
The agent must display the name of the scheme they belong to in their offices and on their website. The council can fine agents up to £5,000 if they are not a member of either scheme.
You can contact the scheme that the agent belongs to if:
the agent ignores your letter and fails to provide a final response within 8 weeks
you are not satisfied with the agent’s final response
You will need to summarise your complaint and make it clear what you would like the agent to do. You could write something like "I would like the agent to":
admit that I have faced unfair treatment or indirect discrimination
offer me a viewing and consider my application to rent a suitable property
compensate me for lost opportunity, distress, aggravation and inconvenience
provide staff training on DSS discrimination so they can advise landlords properly
ask landlords for proof if they say that their mortgage or insurance prevents lettings to tenants on benefits
You will need to upload copies of any supporting evidence when you submit the form. For supporting evidence, you should upload:
a copy of the original property advert
copies of all correspondence including emails and texts
notes of any conversations in person or over the phone
The most important documents to upload are your complaint letters and the final response from the agent. It can take several months for the Ombudsman to review your complaint. They will let you know if it's likely to take longer than 3 months to reach a decision.
The Ombudsman could tell the agent to make a formal apology, change their processes or pay compensation. Compensation through the Ombudsman is usually less than £500.
Considering legal action
You may want to consider taking legal action if:
you do not receive a reply
the landlord or letting agent disagrees that it was discrimination
the landlord or letting agent refuses to help you or change their practices
you are not able to escalate your complaint to the Property Ombudsman or the Property Redress Scheme (for instance, if your complaint is against a private landlord who is not regulated by the schemes).
Taking legal action against a person or company is a long, expensive and stressful process. But some people find it rewarding to get their case heard and make a change.
If you are unable to afford to pay for legal representation, check if you are eligible for legal aid and try to find a legal aid firm to represent you. If you start a legal claim without legal aid funding and you lose, you will likely have to pay for the other side’s legal costs, which could be a lot of money.
The deadline for starting a claim in the County Court is 6 months less 1 day from the date of the discrimination.
On 1 June 2020, the letting agent told you that they would not rent to you because you receive benefits. You have until 31 November 2020 (6 months less 1 day) to start a claim.
Before deciding if you're going to take legal action, ask people close to you what they think as you may need their support.
You should also:
think about what outcome you want
check what evidence you have to support your case
see if you can get legal aid
Get legal aid
You may be able to get legal aid to help you pay for your court action. An application for legal aid can take months and can be refused.