Daft.ie to continue use of 'rent allowance filter' on searches
Department of Social Protection asked sites to remove ‘no rent allowance’ feature
The fact landlords are able to stipulate they will not accept rent allowance is legal discrimination, says Focus Ireland. Photograph: Rui Vieira/PA Wire
The property website daft.ie has decided not to remove a function that allows landlords to refuse to let to people on rent allowance, despite a request from the Department of Social Protection to do so.
The department confirmed it had asked both daft.ie and myhome.ie, the two largest property websites in the State, to remove the function from its rental sections in recent weeks. A spokeswoman said the department’s request to the sites “in relation to removing the rent supplement filter from the search facility” had been made “in response to concerns from some agencies in the housing and homelessness sectors”.
Rent supplement allowance is paid by the department to an estimated 78,000 low-income households – mainly dependent on social welfare payments – to cover most of the cost of renting a home in the private sector. There are caps on the allowance payable, depending on the number of people in the household and in where they are living.
Concern about landlords stipulating they will not consider letting to people on rent allowance has heightened in recent months as competition between prospective tenants sector has increased.
Housing organisations working with low-income households, such as Threshold and Focus Ireland, say that as rents have increased and rent allowance caps have not, more poorer households are being priced out of the private-rented market.
The fact landlords are able to stipulate they will not accept rent allowance is an added hurdle, they say, and is effectively “legal discrimination” against low-income households.
“Can you imagine the uproar if landlords were allowed to say, “Travellers not accepted” or “Muslims not accepted”? said Mike Allen, director of advocacy with Focus Ireland. “But they are effectively allowed to say, ‘Social welfare recipients not accepted’.”
Myhome.ie removed the “no rent allowance” filter from its site last week.
“When we did some analysis we concluded that 15 per cent of rental properties on the site carried the tag ‘Rent supplement not accepted’ and 4 per cent carried the tag of ‘Rent supplement accepted’,” said a spokeswoman. “The majority of properties carried neither option and as a result we made the decision to remove it from the property upload facility.”
Daft.ie, however, having removed the filter reinstated it, apparently after complaints from landlords. A spokesman said: “Last week daft.ie trialled switching off the ability to include ‘rent allowance’ as a filter when placing an advert by a landlord. Simultaneously we trialled switching off the ability to search for properties that accept rent allowance.
“Based on the overwhelming feedback to this trial, we have reinstated the filter.”
He said the site was instead “working on implementing other changes to our website to educate our landlords regarding rent allowance and to remove the mandatory requirement for a landlord to state whether or not they will accept rent allowance.
“We are confident that this will encourage higher acceptance of rent allowance inquiries, whilst continuing to provide our users with the best service for finding the perfect property for them to let.”