London property
Tycoon Fergus Wilson said the rising cost of rent and benefits cuts have led to his decision to evict tenants on housing benefitsReuters

A property tycoon has served eviction notices on 200 tenants whose rent is paid with housing benefits so that eastern European migrants can be housed in their places.

Landlord Fergus Wilson, who owns property in Ashford, Kent, said that eastern Europeans were more reliable tenants.

Wilson, who owns about 100 homes, said: "We've found them to be a good category of tenant who don't default on the rent. With tenants on benefits the number of defaulters outnumbers the ones who pay on time."

Wilson also added that sympathy for single mothers on benefits "is disappearing", a comment that provoked a backlash on social media.

According to Richard Lambert of the National Landlords Association, the Tory-led coalition's policies have rendered property owners reluctant to rent to those on benefits.

A large proportion of those receiving housing benefits are pensioners and working families, while many people have had the help they receive cut while rents go up.

Wilson revealed that these cuts were a contributing factor in his decision to evict tenants on benefits.

"Rents have gone north and benefit levels have gone south," he said.

"The gap is such that I have taken the decision to withdraw from taking tenants on housing benefit. From what I can gather just about all other landlords have done the same."

Roger Harding, director of policy and communications at Shelter, said: "It is very worrying. If this policy continues over the long term, we will see blackspots in the country where people on housing benefit simply cannot find anywhere reasonable [to live].

"There'll be areas where if you lose your job or become ill and you try and fall back on housing benefit, it won't be high enough for you to find somewhere. Unless you have savings, you're going to move town."

Tenants on benefits in council or housing association accommodation have already been hit by the effects of the bedroom tax, in which housing benefit is cut if the home is judged to have a spare bedroom.