Renters in London are being discriminated against ‘because they are on benefits’, according to ITV News London.
ITV News reporter Katie Barnfield interviewed a number of tenants on housing benefits and found that many are struggling to secure accommodation in the capital.
As part of Barnfield’s research, she called 50 letting agents across the capital asking about two bedroom properties, whilst pretending to be in receipt of housing benefit.
“I was asking about the cheapest properties available in each area - and yet, hardly any were available at all,” she said.
Out of every agent she called, Barnfield found just four properties where the landlord would even consider a benefit claimant as a tenant.
Just one landlord would consider her without a guarantor.
Barnfield commented: “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 added: “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’.”
Mary Wilde is just one of those benefit claimants who have struggled to find a place to live. She was told to pay more than £6,000 in rent and fees upfront, because she couldn't find a guarantor earning over £28,000. She says she felt pressured to pay, because she could not find anywhere else available to her.
She 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.”