ITV Slams London Landlords Who View Housing Benefits Renters As Second ‘Classers’
ITV London has just covered a story saying that the Capital’s landlords are discriminating against renters ‘because they are on benefits’.
A number of tenants on housing benefits were interviewed by the TV news reporter Katie Barnfield, who told her that they find it extremely difficult to be accepted to rent accommodation in London.
Researching the story, Barnfield pretending to be a prospective tenant on housing benefits, phoned 50 letting agents across London asking about two bedroomed properties.
She said: “I was asking about the cheapest properties available in each area – and yet, hardly any were available at all.”
According to the reporter out of the 50 agents she contacted only four properties were found that the landlord was prepared to even consider a benefit claimant as a tenant.
Only one landlord would consider Barnfield without a guarantor.
Barnfield said: “One of them [agent] told me I’d need a guarantor earning £43,000 year to rent a property which cost just £1,100 a month.”
She continued: “One estate agent told me they hadn’t had a property on their books which was available to a benefit claimant in seven years. Another said about a particular landlady: ‘even if you were the Pope and you were on benefits, she wouldn’t rent to you’.”
One of the benefit claimants who is finding it difficult to secure accommodation, Mary Wilde, has been told she had to pay upfront £6,000 in rent and fees to be able to rent a ‘home’, as she didn’t have a guarantor who earns more than £28,000. In the end she had no other recourse than to find the upfront payment.
Wilde said: “We are treated like second class citizens. As soon as you mention benefits, people’s whole attitude changes towards you. It’s not fair and it needs to stop. People aren’t being given a chance.”
Richard Merrick of PIMS, said: “We do understand that it can be hard for Housing Benefit claimants to find rented accommodation especially in London, but at the end of the day the media should cover the whole story that the problem has been caused by successive governments.
“Lack of new builds, reduction in social housing because of council’s selling off housing stock has further exacerbated the situation.
“What the media needs to understand is that the private rented sector is a business; Universal Credit through its ridiculous length of time for claimants to receive their first payment has and will put landlords at risk of not being paid.
“Which type of business enters into a ‘trading’ agreement with a partner that may not be able to pay for their ‘service/goods’ in months to come?”