POLICE were called to a picket outside the offices of a property letting firm amid protests by campaigners supporting a mother-of-two on Universal Credit.

Edwina Cobb claims she and her two young children were left without a future home when Didcot-based John Charles Property Investment pulled a tenancy offer two days before they were due to move into a property in Abingdon.

Campaign group Acorn Oxford, which staged the demonstration on the Trident Business Park, alleged the landlord’s actions constituted a ‘clear case of discrimination’ against tenants in receipt of benefits – which the landlord has strenuously denied.

Ms Cobb was set to move in at the start of June. However, despite having two agreed guarantors and an income more than twice the rent level, she was told her tenancy was blocked only two days before.

John Charles Property Investment said Ms Cobb was rejected because of ‘contradictory’ information about her landlord and income references. 

But she said: “I feel frightened with the thought of homelessness, for myself and my two young children.

"Never in a million years did I think I would be discriminated against because of inconsistencies in my benefits.

“It was an outrageous judgement from landlord and property investor Gareth Bertram, especially when he is not armed with all the facts. 

“My only option is to fight collectively through Acorn.”

A spokesperson for John Charles Property Investments said: “The application from Ms Cobb was rejected due to multiple inconsistencies, it was not due to fluctuating universal credit. 

“An application from another prospective tenant has now passed internal assessment and fraud checks.

"The board can only make an assessment based upon the evidence it is presented with.”

The spokesperson said that the company was not discriminatory towards people of any background or income source and provided screenshots of emails between Mr Bertram and current tenants on housing benefits, in which the landlord asks them to send them a review about him.

But Marie Walsh, Didcot councillor for Northbourne Ward, suggested that too often companies ‘put profit before people’. 

She added: “Everyone needs a decent place to call home and no-one should have the worry of being homeless or facing discrimination because they are claiming benefits.”

Thames Valley Police confirmed that the investigation has been filed pending any further evidence coming to light.

When officers were called to the demonstration a little over a week ago, no damage was identified at the scene and no arrests were made.