Renters urge Natwest to say ‘yes to DSS’
In the first co-ordinated action of its kind, ACORN, Living Rent and London Renters Union organised the demonstrations at Natwest branches across the country to demand that its policies be scrapped.
According to the coalition, a clause in the bank’s buy-to-let mortgage agreement with landlords explicitly rules out renting to ‘DSS tenants’; an obsolete reference to benefits claimants and the now-defunct Department for Social Security that was dissolved in 2001. Given that groups with protected characteristics are disproportionately represented in the benefits system, the coalition said this policy all but guarantees that Natwest is in breach of the Equality Act.
The policy goes further and explicitly rules out Houses of Multiple Occupancy and bedsits.
At a time of severe housing shortages and high rental prices, shared accommodation such as this is often all that is available to tenants struggling on low incomes meaning that Natwest is actively denying housing to those most in need, the coalition added.
The tenant unions are demanding that both clauses be scrapped and issued “eviction orders” on Natwest branches across the UK under the slogan “Say Yes to DSS”.
A coalition spokesperson said: “Ten years ago the British public paid an astronomical £45.5 billion to keep Natwest’s parent company, the Royal Bank of Scotland afloat. We majority own that bank and it is a disgrace that despite being the recipients of massive state support themselves and losing £130bn since we bailed them out they have the arrogance and audacity to deny housing to tenants who also need support.”