The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) have updated their guidance on consumer protection law for letting professionals. Of particular interest is the detail covering contractual terms that affect benefit recipients.
The guidance confirms that if a buy-to-let mortgage, lease or other contract includes a clause preventing the landlord from letting to people claiming benefits, this constitutes material information. Therefore, this should be included in the property advert and should be brought to the attention of any potential tenants.
However, claiming such a restriction where none exists would be misleading, and therefore an offence. The updated guidance advises that agents and portals should not apply blanket ‘No DSS’ bans.
The CMA has also said it would be “concerned if terms that specify that a property cannot be occupied by a person in receipt of housing benefit are currently being included in any new contracts”.
While the CMA’s update clearly means that lenders should not specify that a property cannot be let to a tenant on benefits, it could also extend to other “new contracts” – for example, insurance, and lettings contracts themselves.
The CMA has prefaced its update by saying that in March, the Ministry of Housing “announced plans to look at letting adverts which potentially discriminate against would-be tenants on housing benefit and made clear these should end”.
We would advise all of our landlord clients to check the details of their mortgage and insurance contracts to see whether they have a ‘no tenants claiming benefits’ clause. If you think your insurance company prohibits DSS tenants, it may be worth checking again. We have found that several insurance companies are using wording that is misleading and that they are, in fact, comfortable with DSS tenants or will easily amend this clause with no charge.
As always, please contact us if you have any questions or concerns.
Crystal joined Pace in 2007 and was appointed to her current role of Managing Director in 2010, heading up the company founded by her father in 1994.
She is responsible for the daily operations of the business, whilst also ensuring the company is financially sound, has strategic direction and is planning for future growth.
Crystal takes a thoughtful and considered approach to all that she does, transferring her determination to deliver implicit care, attention and professionalism to every member of her team.
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