The Property Ombudsman has ruled that a letting agency’s policy of not renting to families with children is in breach of its code of conduct by discriminating against women.

Lexi Levens, an NHS nurse, brought the landmark legal challenge with homeless charity Shelter, after her family was forced to register as homeless.

Having been served a Section 21 eviction notice on Christmas Eve, Mrs Levens and her husband were unable to find landlords or letting agents willing to rent to them and their four children, despite passing affordability checks.

The Property Ombudsman concluded that blanket ‘no children’ bans violate the equality principles in its code of practice since women are disproportionately affected.

The ombudsman’s decision means its letting agent members will not be able to include blanket bans in property listings – or follow a landlord’s orders to – without reasonable evidence or justification.

If they do so, they will be in breach of its code of practice and may be required to pay compensation to anyone discriminated against.

While this was a positive outcome for Mrs Levens and her family, Shelter says more needs to be done to stamp out discrimination across private renting through the increased regulation of private landlords.

As Editor of Lawble, Gill helps business and individuals become better informed about their legal rights. Gill is a content specialist in the fields of law, tax and human resources.