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Home Ashford News Article
Landlord Fergus Wilson has decided not to rent any of his more than 1,000 properties in Ashford, Maidstone and elsewhere in the county to people receiving housing benefits.
The 65-year-old tycoon said he prefers to rent to eastern European migrants, who he claimed are more likely to pay their rent on time.
He estimated more than 50% of his tenants in Ashford - and around 90% of those in Maidstone - come from eastern Europe.
Mr Wilson said: "This decision is only down to money - it has nothing to do with the personalities involved.
"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.
"You can appreciate why. Rents are going up in line with the price of houses, and housing benefit levels are dropping at the same time.
"Tenants from eastern Europe, places like Poland, have been here a number of years now and have built up a good enough credit rating to rent privately.
"We won't see the impact of more recent migration for years to come, but people on benefits are having to compete with them.
"My message to people is 'get yourself a job, and you will get yourself a house'."
Ex-maths teacher Mr Wilson and wife Judith have built up a property portfolio thought to be worth close to £225million.
"My message to people is 'get yourself a job, and you will get yourself a house'..." - buy-to-let tycoon Fergus Wilson
The couple, from Boughton Monchelsea, near Maidstone, made their millions through buy-to-let investments.
Mr Wilson added: "We sent out section 21 notices telling people on housing benefits that they have to leave after six months.
"I look at other landlords, and every one of them has done the same.
"A lot have gone from natural wastage, as they can't afford to stay."
He added: "The problem is that you have a finite number of houses, but more people wanting to rent them than places are available.
"With that pressure, what tends to give is the poorest people at the bottom of the economic pile.
"We are going to be in a position in the next 20 years where it becomes more and more difficult for people to find housing, and no one seems to have an answer.
"You tell people in a place like Ashford that they need more housing and they're likely to lynch you - they are sick of being built on, but it's a fact."
Housing charity Shelter said the refusal of private landlords to accept welfare claimants as tenants is forcing some to leave their home towns or accept poor quality housing.
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