Multi-millionaire landlord Fergus Wilson has offered to sell four of his apartment blocks to the Home Office or Kent County Council to help address the issue of homeless asylum seekers.
The colourful character suggests they could buy the four empty blocks – containing approximately 20 flats – at Littlestone, New Romney, Folkestone and Wateringbury.
He tells LandlordZONE that he was inspired by seeing people coming off the boats on the Kent coasts, explaining: “These kids have nowhere to go and as a society we have a duty of care. It’s a pragmatic decision – Kent County Council are having a terrible time accommodating them.”
His suggestion comes as growing numbers are risking their lives to navigate the Channel.
Kent County Council is responsible for housing unaccompanied asylum-seeking children but has no more room and has threatened to sue the government for failing to help. Meanwhile the Home Office has resorted to using hotels to house new arrivals.
In an email, the Home Office responded: ‘Thank you for your email correspondence to the Home Secretary and your offer of accommodation. Your correspondence has been passed to the relevant business area, and they will be in contact with you in due course.’
He says the sale is going extremely well and that he now only has about 150 of his 970 two-and three-bedroom properties left, with the target of leaving himself just 10 houses.
However, he has taken issue with a Daily Mail article about the offer, which brands him, ‘Britain’s most hated landlord’. Wilson says: “Where’s the evidence to show that? I think I’m the most loved landlord by my tenants.”
In 2017 a court ruled that Wilson’s policy preventing people from renting his properties based on their ethnicity was unlawful following intervention from the Equality and Human Rights Commission.