A PENSIONER may be left homeless if "disgusting" houseboat license fee increases are allowed to go ahead.

Brentford houseboat dwellers have blasted the PLA for increasing piling licensing fees, in some cases by as much as 273 per cent, which they pay on top of Council tax and mooring fees.

Jill Townsend, 75, who owns a houseboat in the Hollows in Brentford, says she fears the worst if the proposed uplift is allowed to go ahead.

"At the moment I pay £12 a week, but they want me to pay £45. I only get £100 per week in my pension so with council tax and other bills on top of that I will have hardly anything left to live on. I would be forced to sell my boat and I don't know where I would go."

Pauline Oliver who also lives in the Hollows, said: "We are the only group of people who pay to two authorities, the council and the PLA. And the increases on the 'piling license fee' is disgusting."

English TV actress, Susan Penhaligon, another Brentford houseboat owner, was was told in 2007 that she was to have her £1,200 per year fee increased to £6,000. She has been fighting the uplift ever since.

"I think that the river boat community are a microcosm of any London borough," she said. "We have wealthy people living beside people in the equivalent of living in a council flat, just the same as anywhere else, so I think we need to have a new taxing system that is more akin to Council tax."

The piling license fee imposed on houseboat owners by the PLA is to pay for river works such as pontoons and piles that are placed in the river bed.

Councillor Andrew Dakers, who is standing for parliament in Brentford and Isleworth, said: "You need to put this in perspective. The license fee that the PLA is charging comes alongside the income tax and the Council tax that people living on boats are paying just like the rest of us. So there needs to be a bit of a reality check on the part of the PLA.

"It needs to remain a low-cost housing option because if it doesn't then we are going to see people like Jill or a young disabled woman that is living on a boat here in Brentford who is on benefits, wondering whether they will have to leave their homes."