'Blacklisting benefits tenants is beyond bonkers'
Published by Max Salsbury for 24dash.com in Housing
Standard housing pictureImage: Housing via Shutterstock
With housing benefit payments in four out of 10 North East homes set to rise this year, a landlord has claimed that blacklisting tenants on state welfare is "beyond bonkers".
Ajay Jagota, of KIS Lettings, has hit out at the likes of Fergus Wilson, the 1,000-property landlord in Kent who recently issued eviction notices to all of his tenants claiming welfare, and announced that he will no longer accept applicants on housing benefit.
Explaining his decision, Mr Wilson said: "Rents are going up in line with the price of houses, and housing benefit levels are dropping at the same time.”
However, this week the Department for Work and Pensions published the local housing allowance rates – the amounts paid to people claiming housing benefits – which showed that six of the 16 categories for shared bedroom and one, two and three-bedroom properties in Tyneside, Sunderland, Durham and Northumberland have gone up.
Mr Jagota believes the new LHA figures vindicate his view at the time that Mr Wilson’s move was “short-sighted”.
Mr Jagota said: “A lot of landlords are rightly very concerned that the government’s universal credit reforms will mean rocketing rent arrears when housing benefits are paid to tenants rather than them. But blacklisting all benefits tenants as a result is beyond bonkers, and these figures prove it.
“Putting all moral considerations to one side, when North East rents are falling across the board housing benefits rates are at worst stable and tenants on benefits continue to offer landlords excellent rental yields compared to most people – just like they always have.
“At KIS we’ve taken steps to remove the risk of rent arrears becoming an issue by abolishing deposits and replacing them with a policy of asking new tenants to nominate a guarantor for their rent and creating a unique landlord insurance policy, meaning our landlords aren’t left out of pocket no matter what happens.
“Every tenant has to be considered on their own merits, but I would advise landlords to consider involving a third party in their tenancy agreements – and to always consider getting professional support from a high quality agent.”