Housing minister Kris Hopkins has clarified comments he made during a Panorama programme which looked into evictions in the private rented sector.
During the programme, Hopkins said it was “perfectly legitimate” for landlords to ban tenants on housing benefit.
He was attacked over the remarks by shadow housing minister Emma Reynolds, who called them appalling.
But now he has confirmed in the House of Commons that he does not view it as appropriate for private landlords to evict tenants simply because they are on housing benefit.
Hopkins told MPs: “It is not appropriate for a landlord to remove somebody just because they are on housing benefit, but an individual can make a commercial choice about who they want to live in their accommodation.
“It seems that the Labour party, in its forthcoming manifesto, will prescribe who can live in an individual’s house. A private investor who has purchased a house should have the opportunity to choose who lives in that house.”
Earlier this year, it was revealed that major landlord Fergus Wilson had evicted all his tenants on housing benefit.
The Panorama programme featured one of those tenants who had been evicted. The tenant in question had never been behind with the rent or had any complaint against her. She did, however, go on to find another rental home.
The programme said that the biggest single cause of homelessness in England is when people lose the roof over their heads at the end of a private tenancy.
Reporter Richard Bilton said that the number of people made homeless after privately renting had trebled in five years.
He claimed: “Most have been thrown out by private landlords.”