High profile landlord Fergus Wilson hit the headlines when he explained to The Guardian why he would no longer rent to tenants on benefits.
The story became the most read on the published website and attracted more than 5,500 readers’ comments. It was followed up by other media including Daily Mail and Daily Telegraph, while the landlord himself appeared on BBC and Channel 4 News.
The Kent based landlord said he would be evicting his 200 tenants on benefits which covers for about one fifth of his 1000 property empire, in and around Ashford. He said eastern Europeans are better tenants.
His comments were ‘tenants on benefits are competing with eastern Europeans who came to the UK in 2005 and have built up a good enough credit record to rent privately. We have found them to be a good category if tenants who do not default on the rent. With tenants on benefits the number of defaulters outnumbers the ones who pay on time.
‘Single mothers on benefits have been displaced to the bottom of the pile; sympathy for this group is disappearing, they are not enough places for people to live.
He told Channel 4 news his decision was purely based on financial reasons and that rent arrears were running at more than 50% in the homes he left to those receiving benefits.
His comments caused an outcry and reignited warnings that some areas of the country would become ‘benefit black spots’.
Affordable housing campaign group ‘Priced Out’ describes Wilson’s decision as unbelievable heartless’.
Wilsons comments come after figures from the National Landlords Association published in December, which shows that the number of private landlords letting to people on benefits has halved to just one in five.
George Spencer, chief executive officer of online lettings company Rentify urged landlords to consider the implications of such blanket bans on those receiving benefits.
‘Not only could they significantly limit your chances of finding new tenants they could also lead to public outcry, a backlash against landlords and further regulation’ he warned.
What do you think? Should private landlords ban benefits tenants?
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