THE impact of welfare reforms is being felt in the property letting market in Torquay, according to one agent.
More people are looking to move to smaller premises as they are hit by reductions in benefits and new measures such as the so called 'bedroom tax'.
Karl Pedersen, who runs Riviera Residential Lettings in Abbey Road, Torquay, said there is currently a shortage of properties in the Bay of all classes but particularly for those downsizing.
He said: "It is busy, a lot of people are moving around because of the new 'bedroom tax'. People are downsizing. Most tenants I see are looking for smaller places, one bedroom flats in particular. We have a waiting list.
"I estimate about 70 per cent of tenants in the area are on benefits. For its size, the Bay has a massive number of claimants. People say they are struggling to pay council tax on top of their bills, with utility and other bills going up as well."
He said Torbay Council insists all claimants manage their own monies and are paid the housing benefit to them and increasingly were falling into arrears on rent as the rent was being spent on other things.
"The landlords are taking the brunt of this," he said.
Riviera Lettings insist tenants agree benefits are paid direct to the landlord before they are accepted. "That's the only way we know that individual isn't going into arrears," said Mr Pedersen.
He said red tape means it can take weeks for benefits to be assessed.
"It has got a lot worse over the past year. Times are tough in Torbay. I have been here six years and I was in Cardiff, these seems worse for a smaller area.
"Landlords are taking the hit financially. If I get a new landlord I market a property at a realistic rent which will move the property quickly for them."
Riviera Residential Lettings, in Abbey Road, Torquay, is a member of the National Landlords Association and the UK Association of Letting Agents.
It manages about 100 properties for some 20 landlords and rents out properties itself, principally in Torquay and Paignton. It also handles block management.
Riviera Residential Lettings has a wide range of properties which they manage from one bedroom flats to luxury homes and all ranges of rent.
See the website www.rivieraresidentiallettings.co.uk/ or telephone 01803 215393.