In the lettings industry, 'DSS' refers to private tenants who claim benefits.
The term is less than ideal for several reasons. It refers to the Department of Social Security, which used to pay out benefits but has not existed since 2001.
It also fails to distinguish between:
- different kinds of benefit (e.g. Housing Benefit vs. Child Benefit)
- different benefit systems (e.g. legacy vs. Universal Credit)
- tenants whose sole income is benefits vs. tenants who receive benefits in addition to part-time or full-time employment
- tenants whose housing benefit is paid directly to the landlord vs. tenants who pass on their benefit to the landlord
Why do you use the term 'DSS'?
We use the term 'DSS' because it's the most well-understood way to refer to tenants who plan to pay at least some of their rent via benefit payments.
It is the term that the vast majority of tenants looking for housing that is benefit-friendly will be looking out for. Therefore, we worry that by unilaterally deciding not to use the term, we would actually cause more frustration and delays to tenants on benefits looking for suitable housing.
In 2019, we asked 400 benefit claimants what terminology they were most familiar with to describe rented homes available to tenants who plan to pay the rent using benefits. 70% were most familiar with the phrase 'DSS'.
More about 'DSS':