A letting agent has defended his decision to set up a Go Fund Me page for a 90-year-old man who fell into rental arrears, after it came under fire from residents, who accused him of pocketing the money for his company.

The Go Fund Me page was set up on behalf of Alan from Darwen, a pensioner who acted as a guarantor for his son, who rented a property from Ainsworth-Lord Estate Agents, based in the town.

Alan's story was broadcast on Channel 5 on Wednesday night in the new series of Eviction! Nightmare Tenants, Slum Landlords, in which viewers were told that after Alan agreed to be a guarantor for his son, his son then refused to pay rent on the property, meaning the 90-year-old was left with an arrears bill amounting to around £3,500.

Following the show's airing, a Go Fund Me page was set up by managing director of the estate agents, Paul Ainsworth-Lord, in order to help Alan.

Alan was left in arrears after his son refused to pay rent on a property managed by Ainsworth-Lord Estates in Darwen

However, people in Darwen were outraged, saying the pensioner should never have been allowed to sign as a guarantor due to his age, and accused Ainsworth-Lord Estates of setting up the fundraiser to get the money owed by Alan.

They have now taken it upon themselves to set up an alternative fundraiser, stating all monies will be paid directly to the 90-year-old.

Paul Ainsworth-Lord said: "The Go Fund Me page was set up as a direct response from a number of enquiries we had after the show was aired on Wednesday.

"We were inundated with people from all over the country wanting to donate money to Alan, and we thought the easiest way to do that would be to set up this page.

"This was the worst arrears case we have had to deal with just because of who Alan is and how nice he is, but we have a job to do at the end of the day and are just the messengers on behalf of the landlord.

"Since we set up the page, we have had threats, saying we're trying to raise the money for ourselves and not Alan, but I thought we were doing a good job by trying to navigate a situation where people wanted to donate money to him."

Darrener, Holly Price, 27, said she doesn't know the pensioner, but was angered after seeing the Go Fund Me page, which originally did not mention whether any of the funds would be going directly to the 90-year-old. 

She said: "I don't even know Alan but if he was my grandparent I could not have let this happen to him.

"If the original TV show was filmed last year and a payment plan set-up then the money has already been paid to the letting agents.

"The Go Fund Me page doesn't even say the money donated will go directly to Alan.

"Plus, he should never have been able to be a guarantor, he's 90."

Another resident said: "The lettings agent should never have agreed to let a 90-year-old pensioner be a rent guarantor and they have a cheek trying to get the public to fund their breach of the rules."

Alan was left in arrears after his son refused to pay rent on a property managed by Ainsworth-Lord Estates in Darwen

According to the show, which was filmed last year, Alan had agreed to set up a payment plan with the estate agents, but Mr Ainsworth-Lord said this was to provide the landlord with what he was owed.

He added: "The arrears were kindly capped at £1,500 by the landlord, £2,000 less than the actual amount owed by his son.

"But we didn't aggressively enforce Alan to make payments towards this because of his age and the Covid situation.

"And in terms of being a guarantor, there are no hard and fast rules about this, and Alan met our criteria."

The Go Fund Me page, which has now raised more than £7,000 has since been edited.

READ: Go Fund Me page for Darwen 90-year-old on Evicted! Nightmare Tenants, Slum Landlords

It now states: "Since we set up the page, some people have contacted us to clarify if all the money will be going to Alan.

"We confirm that every penny raised will be going to Alan directly.

"All monies donated will be sent from the GoFundMe people to Alan's bank account.

"It will not be handled by our office."