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Property boss shocked by landlords' "short-sighted and self-defeating" move to turf out housing benefit claimants

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Property boss shocked by landlords' "short-sighted and self-defeating" move to turf out housing benefit claimants

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Published by Max Salsbury for 24dash.com in Housing and also in Communities

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Image: Housing via Shutterstock

A property boss has said he his shocked by a landlord couple's decision to evict all of their tenants who are in receipt of housing benefit.

Ajay Jagota, of KIS Lettings, says that Fergus and Judith Wilson's move to ban benefit claimants from their properties is “short-sighted and self-defeating”.

Fergus Wilson - who with his wife owns 1000+ properties in Kent - explained this week that the decision to stop renting to people on housing benefit was a purely financial one. The landlord said: "When it comes to money, over half of people on benefits were defaulting on their rent, and when it comes to people who are working, we've not had one single person default on one single penny."

However, Mr Jagota, who manages 700 properties in the north east, believes the Wilsons have made the wrong decision.

He said: “I’m shocked that as experienced and successful operator as Fergus Wilson would take such a short-sighted and self-defeating decision.

“Depriving yourself of tenants in such an arbitrary way doesn’t make much business sense to me - it seems so much more sensible to assess every tenant on their own individual circumstances.

“What happens next? Not accepting tenants who you think might end up on benefits at a later date? What about people who go onto benefits after they’ve moved in? All it takes is ill-health, relationship breakdown, bereavement or a few bad decisions from their boss and all of a sudden your most reliable tenant is in arrears.

“What about pensioners? That’s a welfare payment. Or a couple with two well-paid jobs on child benefit? Are they all of a sudden a risky bet?

“As a letting agent KIS is always looking to make sure our landlords aren’t left out of pocket by rent arrears or anything else – that’s why we abolished deposits and replaced them with asking new tenants to nominate a guarantor for their rent and created a unique landlord insurance policy. That way our landlords are covered no matter what happens.

“Being a landlord is a business, but if you or your letting agent has the skills to manage tenancies effectively you can minimise the risk of arrears whatever the circumstances."

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