Easington residents to feature on Channel 4s Britain’s Benefit Tenants

Bev Corkhill and John Paul from Castledene Letting Agents
Bev Corkhill and John Paul from Castledene Letting Agents

EASINGTON residents will be the focus of a TV programme highlighting the country’s social housing crisis.

Easington-based lettings firm Castledene will also feature in the Channel 4 show, called Britain’s Benefit Tenants.

Easington Colliery street

Easington Colliery street

The programme looks at competition for social housing, as renters face never-ending waiting lists for council homes and turn to private landlords – with nearly two million people falling behind on payments.

Castledene staff, including managing director John Paul, are shown helping local tenants, some of whom are vulnerable, with various issues.

John said: “We manage a lot of properties and some clients happen to be housing benefit tenants.

“They can need additional help filling out forms, and we do have a lot of vulnerable tenants, including some with mental health or substance abuse issues.

“We help them and give them chances, and organise support networks if they need it.

“We can help them to a certain point, we don’t just bung them into a house and forget about them.”

The show also follows three Easington tenants and how they cope with making ends meet.

Castledene manages 1,300 properties in East Durham, and John admits there is a lot of competition among private landlords in Hartlepool and East Durham, with “an abundance of empty properties and more people not working”.

He added: “We do have a massive waiting list.”

John said recent issues facing tenants, landlords and letting agents was a reduction in local housing allowance benefit and a “vicious circle” of problem tenants fleeing homes, only to leave landlords and letting agents to pick up the bill for costs like council tax.

The firm, which has seven branches throughout the region, featured on BBC1’s Meet The Landlords last year and was approached by Channel 4 to do this latest documentary.

John said: “I think the aim was for a show on nightmare tenants and to show how we deal with the lower end of the market, in terms of tenants not working.

“But not all housing benefit tenants are nightmares.

“It’s not all about people wrecking houses.

“We said yes it does happen, but not as often as you think.”

The programme airs at 9pm tonight.