AN ESTATE agency in Oxford refused a hopeful tenant the chance to rent a home because they are on Universal Credit.

Community union ACORN Oxford accused North Oxford Property Services of discrimination after they turned down a renter on benefits, who was enquiring about a property on Havelock Road in the city centre.

Members from the union gathered outside the company's office in Jericho on Saturday to protest against the illegal use of‘No DSS’ tactics.

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In response to a previous ACORN demonstration outside Chancellor’s, a NOPS spokesperson confirmed that the company is 'quite welcoming as long as the prospective tenant can fulfil all other references and checks which any non-DSS tenant would, most notably a landlord reference'.

However, correspondence obtained by the union and seen by the Oxford Mail, shows the agent dismissing a prospective renter on benefits.

A lettings manager at NOPS, sent this in response to the prospective tenant's enquiry: "Thank you for your enquiry but I am afraid the landlord does not have insurance to cover tenants in receipt of Universal Credit."

Emails show NOPS uses illegal No DSS practice

Emails show NOPS uses illegal 'No DSS' practice

In the past year, three court rulings have declared ‘No DSS’ practices to be unlawful under the Equality Act 2010.

Despite this, a September 2020 report by this newspaper found that only four of 43 Oxford properties listed on popular renting site Spare Room were marked under 'housing benefit considered'.

Paula Dunne, Labour City councillor for Cowley, said: "''No DSS' is an unlawful policy that landlords and letting agents have used to reject any tenants who claim state benefits such as Universal Credit or housing benefits.

"This is a discriminatory practice that indirectly targets already marginalised people.

Emails show NOPS uses illegal 'No DSS' practice

"Already, many will be at risk of homelessness as a result of rent arrears which have accumulated during the pandemic.

"This further barrier to housing for those worst off is unacceptable: housing is a human right.

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"ACORN is standing up for our community by demanding that letting agents and landlords put people before profit and put a stop to this 'No DSS' practice."

This was the union's third in a series of demonstrations over the last month to draw attention to the discriminatory letting practices employed by Oxford letting agents and landlords.

Imogen Thomas, Labour City councillor for Holywell, also commented: "The stories I have heard from residents and the investigation ACORN has done into the practice make it clear to my mind that while reference to ‘No DSS’ may have been removed from adverts, housing discrimination in the private rented sector is still deeply entrenched.

North Oxford Property Services did not wish to comment on the allegations made by ACORN.