A disabled Brighton woman says she is facing homelessness because no landlords will accept housing benefit.
But a desperate search over several weeks for a new home for her and her terrier Sadie hasn’t thrown up a single flat which will take her on – with agents telling her housing benefit is the issue.
Now, she is facing having to rehome her pet and move into temporary accommodation.
Ms Fisher said: “I feel like I’m being discriminated against. Barriers have been put up to stop me getting housed.
“I have got good references, I have got guaranteed housing benefit because I’m on disability allowance, I’m going to be lent a deposit, but they take one look at housing benefit, and my dog and they say no way.
“I phoned every single agency daily for a month and a half, and sent emails out, I’ve even put fliers in shop windows, but they’re all saying we sometimes get something, but it doesn’t happen often.
“I have been classed as vulnerable so the council will house me if I don’t find anything, but I’d have to lose my dog and possibly be in a flat off the ground floor where I can’t get up and down the stairs.”
Kellie, who suffers from anxiety, depression and limited mobility thanks to back and neck issues, was working for Bupa when she moved into her current flat, so housing benefit was not an issue.
But she has been on disability benefit since 2010, and says Sadie and her local support network are essential if she does not deteriorate further.
The agencies are telling her the issue is private landlords can’t get insurance if their tenants are on housing benefit.
However, local estate agent Paul Bonett said that many of his clients are happy to take housing benefit if it covers their costs, particularly in circumstances such as Kellie’s.
He said: “We don’t have an issue with housing benefit in our firm. If someone’s on housing benefit with a disability they’re probably going to be able to pay the rent for a long time.
“But the housing benefit rate might not cover the high market rate in Brighton, so it’s down to whether landlords will accept a lower rent.
“A lot of them can’t, but we have had one or two who are prepared to take a lower rent because they don’t need or want to cream it off the top – as long as it pays their mortgage and the other costs of letting a property.
“It’s a complicated issue.
“With pets, if you have a choice of a tenant with one or without, landlords will choose those without because they can cause accidental damage and more wear and tear.
“One of the things she could use is social networks – using Facebook is a great way of maybe connecting with people who aren’t after the high rent.”
Kellie can afford up to £725 a month and she needs to move by the end of the week. If you know of a flat which Kellie can rent, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.