PEOPLE will be turfed out of private sector housing as a result of welfare reform, a landlord has warned.
Fergus Wilson, who owns about 1,000 properties throughout Kent including houses in Shepway and Ashford, said he is no longer going to rent to people on benefits as he is worried about their ability to pay.
Mr Wilson said: “Many, many wise landlords are not taking housing benefit any more.
“The Government is cutting back and they are saying ‘we’re not going to pay you as much’. In addition to that, we’ve got the Universal Credit situation.”
Under the new system, housing benefit will be paid directly to tenants rather than landlords, to encourage claimants to take responsibility for their finances.
The borough council began to prepare for the introduction of the scheme earlier this year but the Government has now delayed the roll-out until at least 2015.
But in anticipation of the changes Mr Wilson said he is worried that tenants will not be able to manage their money and will fall into arrears.
He said he still has a few tenants in receipt of housing benefit but has given them notice to leave in the new year.
Although he has previously advocated “local housing for local people” he says the situation could mean people are forced into social housing as private landlords can only rely on those in paid employment.
He said: “We’ve got lots of eastern European people who are working. Landlords are business people and we are looking to make a profit.
“What I can foresee happening is all the foreign people taking private sector housing with local people left in social housing.”
A spokesman for Porchlight said the homelessness charity had not yet heard of any tenants on benefits being asked to leave but that Mr Wilson’s comments were a “big worry”.
He added: “I can’t imagine why he’s doing that, surely people deserve a chance.
“That’s the issue, the unwillingness of some private landlords to accept people on Universal Credit.
“There isn’t enough social housing, so people rely on private rentals but if landlords are unwilling to accept people on benefits, there’s even less housing available.
“Porchlight has a private rented accommodation team, backed by Crisis, which works with landlords, and helps them move in, and then carries on working with tenants. This takes away the landlords’ worries about whether they’ll be able to pay.”
Source: This is Kent
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