Remember the faces of this greedy couple well, for they are a sign of things to come if you are a property renter who receives any type of state benefits.
Fergus and Judith Wilson own nearly 1,000 properties around the area of Ashford in Kent, and they have allegedly sent out eviction notices to 200 of their tenants. What are the crimes that these tenants have committed? They are in receipt of state benefits.
Fergus Wilson believes that nearly all the tenants he has that are in arrears are non working and in receipt of state benefits. He also claims that most other landlords are taking the same action as him with only 1 landlord in 5 now renting property to a tenant on benefits.
Rents have gone north, and benefit levels south” – Fergus Wilson
Wilson suggests that his best tenants are in fact eastern Europeans who rarely default on their rent unlike those on benefits. Sadly he doesn’t mention at any stage whether he thinks that the tenants on benefits are defaulting because their rent is too high. I know that in the last few years my own town of Farnborough has seen housing benefit increased by the local council to keep in line with the increasing rise in private rental prices. I also know that this amount of housing benefit is not enough to pay local private rents and that tenants top up the rent from their own benefits to meet the payment. If this is a problem in Farnborough; can I assume it may also be an issue in Ashford Kent? Are the local taxpayers giving money to private tenants in the form of benefits, that then gets passed onto greedy landlords for hyper inflated rents?
Single mothers on benefits have been displaced to the bottom of the pile; sympathy for this group is disappearing”-Fergus Wilson
There is also the added problem of getting a bond or deposit for tenants on benefits. This became an issue long ago with the typical renter now needing in excess of £1,500 to get into a property. Strangely most people on benefits don’t have a couple of grand sitting around spare to put down as a deposit on a rented property. Some local councils offer a bond to landlords, but many no longer accept this as a guarantee. Landlord insurance also doesn’t cover tenants on benefits, so the property owner may consider the potential tenant on benefits too much of a liability.
This is not a new problem for those without jobs. As recently as 2012 it became obvious in areas around London that private landlords were turning down those people requiring housing benefit to pay their rent. This problem became especially apparent in Hackney when tenants started to visit the local Citizens Advice Bureau in their droves looking for help. It was always difficult to rent a property if you were receiving housing benefit, but it has become much worse since the 1990s because of the ridiculously high rents being charged. People searching for somewhere to live have found that the high price wanted for the rent by greedy landlords pushes the property outside of the housing benefit limit.
No blacks, no dogs, no Irish” – a familiar sign hanging by the front doors of 1950′s and 1960′s boarding houses
So what as a society, do we do for these tenants who are receiving housing benefit? If they are all but banned from renting private properties by repulsive landlords like Fergus Wilson, they will need social housing. If the local council can’t provide this because of the overwhelming demand, do we see these people out onto the streets of England? Do we continue to allow one person to own a 1,000 properties; while others possibly sleep on the streets?
Vile comments and Daily Mail attitudes from putrid people like Wilson are becoming all too common and freely spoken. We need to think long and hard about the road we are heading down with the unemployed, disabled, single-parents and housing benefit claimants.