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Tenant on benefits row sparks petition protest

A Belfast landlord has launched a protest calling for a crack down on buy to let mortgage lenders who ban tenants on benefits.

Helena McAleer instigated the online petition that has garnered over 4,000 signatures when her bank turned down an application for a buy to let loan.

NatWest told her that because her tenant was on benefits, she could only have the money if she evicted the woman in her 50s, even though she had lived in the flat for two years and had no rent arrears.

McAleer refused and raised the cash from another lender who accepted tenants on benefits.

NatWest’s refusal to lend her the money infuriated McAteer and spurred her into launching the petition.

She says a survey in 2017 found that 43 per cent of landlords were barred from letting to benefit tenants as a condition of their buy to let mortgages.

“Some banks refuse mortgages to buy to let landlords who let to welfare recipients. My bank instructed me to seek an alternative tenant if I wished to keep my mortgage because my tenant was a welfare recipient,” said McAleer.

“The government must close these loopholes, as they are a breach of basic human rights

“This isn't only because landlords are discriminatory, many banks prohibit landlords from renting to reliable tenants just because of their circumstances. Welfare recipients are not second class citizens they deserve access to safe, secure, habitable, and affordable homes as is their human right.”

Broker Mortgages for Business reckons about 20 buy to let lenders have a similar policy to NatWest.

“The bank has specific lending criteria and cannot offer mortgages in certain circumstances, which are made clear on a customer’s terms and conditions. There are alternative providers who may be better suited for customers in these circumstances,” said a NatWest spokesman.