One of Britain’s biggest buy-to-let landlords, Fergus Wilson, is in trouble yet again after setting out his letting criteria earlier this year. This time Wilson was in court yesterday for banning “coloured” tenants from renting his homes because of their “curry smell”.
The controversial millionaire landlord, reputedly worth £180m, that’s according to The Times Rich list, are doing the image of responsible landlords no good whatsoever with their antics, and their old fashioned views – they simply don’t seem to want to conform to legal convention, said one industry expert.
Fergus and his wife Judith bought nearly 1,000 homes in Ashford and Maidstone in Kent, but have recently been in the process of offloading them to foreign investors.
On the 1st January 2017 they introduced their so call Letting Criteria:
“Like any business we are consistently fine tuning to best advantage,” said Mr Wilson.
The following are not acceptable:
1) Tenants with children under 18. A child over 18 can be a co-tenant
2) Only tenants with a Rent Guarantee
3) No single mums or single fathers
4) No tenants on Housing Benefit
5) No low income workers
6) No single adults
7) No Zero hours workers
8) No plumbers
9) No battered wives
10) No smokers
11) No tenants with pets
Although his criteria does not include the banning of Indian and Pakistani tenants “because of the curry smell” his actions in this have brought Wilson into conflict with The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), who applied for an injunction to prevent MR Wilson discriminating in this way.
Yesterday an injunction against the policy was granted at Maidstone County Court.
The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), which brought the action, said his remarks were unlawful.
The proceedings against Wilson began after he sent an email to his lettings agency, asking them to ban “coloured” people from renting his homes, a communication which was subsequently leaked to The Sun newspaper.
In court, Mr Wilson argued that his decision not to rent to people was made on economic grounds and not based on the colour of people’s skin. He described his remarks in the e-mail as “banter”.
Wilson insisted in court that he was not racist, and already has a number of non-white tenants in properties.
However, Judge Richard Polden rejected Mr Wilson’s assertion that he had been joking, saying:
“I find that this policy clearly amounts to discrimination. I find that the policy is unlawful.”
The injunction granted to EHRC orders that Mr Wilson cannot apply his lettings policy when it involves stopping Indian or Pakistani people renting his properties.
Following the proceedings Mr Wilson said the case was “political correctness gone mad” and that it could have a devastating effect on the lettings industry.
Wilson reportedly said that a property he had bought from an Indian couple cost him £12,000 to put right because the curry smell was a “massive problem”.
In the past, Mr Wilson had evicted all 200 of his housing benefit tenants. He said that they we unreliable and that he would rather have “migrants as tenants than people on benefits”.