This probably isn’t going to come as a surprise to anyone, but unemployment is hard. It can be even harder when you have low-income and you’re looking for a new place to live. Especially when you can’t find a landlord that accepts DSS.
DSS is an acronym that stands for Department of Social Security. Although this governmental agency no longer exists following a merger in 2001 to become the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), the term DSS tenant is still commonly used by landlords and letting agents. In essence, DSS tenants are those who receive Local Housing Allowance (LHA), otherwise known as Housing Benefit (HB), to support their living accommodation expenses.
Top reasons why some landlords don’t allow DSS tenants
DSS tenants, by definition, are in difficult financial situations. Regardless of the tenant’s sincerity or efforts to better their financial situation, this will automatically make them the riskier choice for landlords choosing a tenant, in comparison to someone with a steady job and stable income. DSS tenants may face difficulties with paying rent on time, due to slips or changes in their benefit payments.
Though some landlord insurance providers can provide cover for DSS tenants, some companies will not cover certain types of tenants, including those claiming housing benefits. This is due to restrictions in their own policies.
Housing benefits do not always cover the full rent and the tenant will have to make up the remainder of the rent themselves – which they may not always be able to do each month depending on their other household bills and financial responsibilities.
Some buy-to-let mortgage loan terms and conditions specifically do not allow landlords to let their property to tenants who are claiming any kind of income support.
Landlord Insurance for DSS Tenants
In addition to Landlord Buildings Insurance, there are other types of DSS landlord insurance suitable for properties rented to DSS tenants as well as all other tenant types.
- Landlord’s Content Insurance will protect the landlord’s white goods, carpets and flooring, curtains and any furniture or appliances that are property of the landlord.
- Loss of Rent Insurance will cover the loss of rental income due to fire, flooding, storms and other similar disasters that may cause tenants to have to temporarily be re-situated elsewhere.
- Landlord Emergency Assistance Insurance will cover a range of emergencies including electrical failures and plumbing emergencies.
- Public Liability Insurance for DSS tenants in the case a tenant ever suffers an injury over something that the landlord was responsible for (and was not directly caused by the tenant).
What could a tenant do to convince a landlord to change their DSS policy?
- Provide proof that they have always paid rent on time, including spotless references from previous landlords.
- Ensure that a rent guarantor is able to guarantee the rent each month.
- As of mid 2013, changes have been made in the way in which housing benefits are paid and the tenant may have to ask their local council to pay their housing benefits directly into the landlord’s account as it is no longer an automatic option. Attitudes toward renting properties to DSS tenants have been negatively affected due to these changes as the tenant has more responsibility over rent payment. Some local councils are still able to pay benefits directly into the landlord’s account in certain cases where the tenant is considered to be “vulnerable”.
- If the tenant is able to take out tenant content insurance over their personal property.
- An alternative insurance provider that can insure DSS tenants at low additional cost, which may still save the landlord money depending on their existing insurance provider.
Some landlords aren’t being nasty rejecting DSS applicants; it’s just their policy not to rent their property to DSS tenants and there is nothing that they are willing to do to change that. In which case, there are plenty of other landlords out there who will accept housing benefit, but tenants may find that the properties that do are of lower quality in areas.
Ashburnham Insurance can cover various tenant types including: