When applying for a tenancy with a private landlord, it can be hard to gain approval if you’re a DSS tenant. This is because of the stigma around DSS tenants not being well paid which would lead them to be more likely to default on rental payments. This is bad for landlords who have to pay other costs using the rent like landlord boiler cover and home insurance, hurting the cash flow of the property business.
So, in this article, we will be going over all the ways a tenant who is on benefits from the government can gain approval from a landlord without needing a guarantor.
How to find landlords that accept DSS tenants without a grantor
The below list breaks down how to go about finding a landlord. Some of these suggestions are easy to do with just a change in how you approach the landlord and others may require more effort such as speaking to a local council or offering rent in advance.
As a tenant, you may feel powerless when a landlord dictates the terms of an agreement and all you can do is agree with the terms laid out to you. The reality is, landlords are in fact open to negotiation as they are only looking to find the best tenant for their property business and if you can prove this to them then they may give you a good chance.
Being your search online
Going through a letting agent may prove difficult as a tenant because the letting agent may already have prejudice in place that will prevent them from offering you the landlord’s property.
Sometimes, they may even be under instruction to discreetly refuse you from letting out a property they are in charge of but they won’t tell you. This can be under the instruction from the landlord or it may just be company policy.
As a result, some tenants find better success in finding a landlord who will accommodate them without a guarantor by searching online and speaking directly with a landlord. Online listing platforms that show the contact details of the landlord include Rightmove found here, SpareRoom, Zoopla which you can find on this link or Letting a Property.
In addition to this, unorthodox ways of finding rooms for rent such as searching on Facebook groups or local online forums or potentially going through word of mouth can all improve your chances of finding a room.
Find a guarantor company
If you are reading this article you may have already explored the option of using a close friend or family member as a guarantor. However, another option would be to find a guarantor in the form of a private guarantor company.
These companies will charge you more for rent but if it means gaining approval for the home you need this may be worth it as a tenant. Doing a simple google search of private guarantor companies should give you some good options to pick from.
However, some landlords may still refuse a guarantor company and prefer a guarantor that is a close friend or family member and they are well within their rights to do so. For more on using a guarantor company click here.
Speak to your local council
Councils may collaborate with landlords in some cases by providing a list of landlords that house tenants who are on benefits and are considered DSS tenants. For a broader list of properties showing an example of what this might look like for tenants, follow this website.
Other than this, they also help to house people who are struggling to find a home rather than facing homelessness. They can offer temporary accommodation and then help with finding affordable private tenancies.
Also, suppose you are on universal credit. In that case, there is also a discretionary housing payment which can go towards the downpayment for a rental property which the council can help advise you on.
Negotiate on rent
It is unfair that if you are a DSS tenant you would have to pay more. However, if you are adamant about moving into a specific property then you could offer more rent than what is asked in order to secure your stay in a property.
Also, paying rent up front is also an option if you want to prove you’re serious about a property and give a landlord the peace of mind that the rent is covered for a few months beforehand. Make sure you write all of this down in a tenancy agreement because this can have legal issues if you don’t approach this part of this professionally.
Offer a larger security deposit
Similar to paying rent up front, paying a larger deposit can give a landlord more security in renting the property to you. This is because a landlord has the right to keep some or all of the deposit equivalent to the amount of rent arrears you have.
Hence, if a landlord is asking for 3 weeks’ rent for example as a security deposit, you can offer to pay the maximum amount possible legally for a deposit of 5 weeks. Find details on the maximum amount of security deposit payable here on the government website.
Not only will this demonstrate that there is money that can be used in case there are rent arrears but it also shows that a tenant is responsible with their money which is another indicator which may make you more attractive as a prospective tenant, making a landlord more certain they can collect your rent.
Look at the Help to Rent database
There are non-governmental organisations that can help the average person facing homelessness find a private tenancy. To find one that is in your local area, search their database here.
You should be able to find the eligibility criteria for their schemes, their contact information and what local authority they operate with, Some organisations operate borough-wide and some operate within a single council.
Prove you can afford the rent
Sometimes, a letting agent or landlord will find out you are on benefits and infer things about your living situation straight away. Other times, you can get around this by proving that you can afford rental payments by providing things like bank account information, your living expenses and maybe money you have saved up will be considered.
Either way, making sure you let the person in charge of providing you with a room all the highlights of your financial situation can significantly improve their perception of you as a tenant.
The rules around no DSS policies
Because of discrimination accusations surrounding the topic of DSS tenants, there are rules around the topic and also deposits that can help DSS tenants gain approval for a tenancy agreement too.
In general, the attitude towards DSS is still negative. Nonetheless, through accessing all the help you can and using the information in this article to your advantage there is no reason why you cannot access the property you desire as a DSS tenant.
Are “no DSS” policies discriminatory?
Under the legislation, a tenant can take a letting agent or landlord to court if they are found to advertise that they do not accept DSS tenants or if they give the reason for refusing a tenant as being they are a DSS tenant.
There have been cases of DSS tenants who have been refused a room taking a landlord to court and winning their case for these reasons.
Can deposit replacement insurance help you as a DSS tenant?
Unlike deposits where you have to save up a lot of money (up to 5 weeks rent), and use this as the confirmation that you are serious about moving into the property, you can use a deposit replacement scheme.
This is where a tenant pays a monthly subscription over the course of a tenancy and the insurance provider will pay the deposit to the landlord. This is known as “deposit replacement insurance” to landlords and can help DSS tenants out with affording a security deposit by reducing the amount they have to save up as they will pay for the deposit over time.
An example of a company providing schemes like this is Reposit which you can check out here.
However, as time goes on, the tenant will still end up paying more than the initial price of the deposit in interest but if this is the only option available for a tenant to move into a property they may need to take it.
Credit checks are an important part of tenancy referencing. If you are a tenant who is on benefits, chances are your credit score will not be the best which may impact your ability to gain approval for a tenancy.
However, there are still things you can do. As an example, paying your payments on time, avoiding getting overdrawn and monitoring your file for fraudulent activity.
In addition, moving home a lot or renting different properties frequently can be signs of instability in your credit report. So it would be a good idea to stay in the tenancy agreement you are in for a longer time to build your credit score once you do move in.
The truth is, most DSS tenants will never have any issues with landlords but landlords still feel sceptical about bringing this type of tenant into a property.
Therefore, the most you can do as a tenant is present yourself in the best way to landlords and letting agents and prove that you’ll be a good tenant.