Westminster Council’s housing body offers landlords cash reward to find flat for MP

Westminster’s council housing arm has defended offering �150 in cash as an incentive for social landlords to house a Member of Parliament.

Landlords received an email with the cash offer alongside the promise that the unnamed MP would be a “sought-after tenant”, looking for a flat for less than �335 per week.

The offer was sent out by CityWest Homes Residential, a private lettings firm wholly owned by CityWest Homes, which is responsible for the borough’s council housing stock.

Cllr Paul Dimoldenberg, leader of Westminster’s Labour opposition, said: “CityWest Homes should be concentrating on finding homes in Westminster for the most vulnerable and not acting as an estate agent for Members of Parliament.

“It just shows the warped priorities of Westminster Conservatives, giving priority to MPs, who they call ‘sought-after tenants’, while sending families in housing need 50 miles away to places like Maidstone and Bletchley.”

But Petros Christen, director of finance for CityWest Homes, said the appeal was “unconnected with the social housing part of the business”, adding: “While CityWest Homes Residential is a private management company, it is worth pointing out that the money it makes contributes to keeping overheads low at CityWest itself.

“In this case, a cash incentive to find a specific property for a particular client was better value for money than placing an advert.”

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The effect of the housing benefit cap was also laid bare in another email leaked to Cllr Dimoldenberg, in which CityWest Homes advised landlords with tenants who could no longer afford their rents to tell them to move to south London boroughs to avoid lengthy waits in temporary accommodation.

He said: “This shows the housing benefit caps are simply designed to move low-income families out of central London, breaking up communities, splitting families and forcing many working families away from their jobs, schools and friends.”