Among UK's biggest landlords, he tells agents: Don't rent to 'coloured' people, curry smell 'sticks to the carpet'
Wilson told agents not to rent to battered wives, single parents, low income and zero hours workers, or plumbers. Image source Flickr via Mark Moz. Photograph: (Others)
One of the UK's largest buy-to-let landlords gave instructions to agents handling his properties not to rent to "coloured people" because the smell of curry "sticks to the carpet", reports The Independent.
The landlord is Fergus Wilson--his Kent properties alone are thought to number 1,000 across the Ashford and Maidstone area. He is estimated to own properties valued at £250 million, and has been included in The Sunday Times rich list.
His instructions about who he wanted and didn't want as renters were leaked to the media: He told agents not to rent to battered wives, single parents, low income and zero hours workers, or plumbers.
Mr Wilson took to the pages of The Sun to defend this, saying: "To be honest, we're getting overloaded with coloured people. It is a problem with certain types of coloured people--those who consume curry--it sticks to the carpet.
"You have to get some chemical thing that takes the smell out. In extreme cases you have to replace the carpet."
Wilson took to the pages of The Sun saying: 'To be honest, we're getting overloaded with coloured people. It is a problem with certain types of coloured people -- those who consume curry -- it sticks to the carpet
Wilson has also sent an email to agents at Evolution Properties: "No coloured people because of the curry smell at the end of the tenancy."
Wilson evicted 200 tenants in 2014 for being on housing benefit, The Independent report claims. Mr Wilson has confirmed he issued this order.
He received sharp backlash on social media, with dozens calling Wilson "vile" and "disgusting".
A spokesman from the anti-racism charity group HOPE spoke to The Independent, characterising the directive as an "unacceptable throwback" to the 1960s, and commented on the dynamic between a landlord's personal biases and the public role they fulfill as landlords:
"You simply cannot treat people like this and deny them a place to live due to their skin colour.
"This is the unacceptable face of the housing crisis. There is something broken in the system when such a powerful figure can get away with such an appalling policy."
Rental law in UK
While banning any group of people from renting property isn't currently a criminal offence, racial discrimination by landlords contradicts civil law, meaning that a tenant could successfully take Mr Wilson to court, claims the campaign group Generation Rent.
The groups's interim director said: "The law needs to change. It shouldn't be up to individual renters to have to proactively fight the worst landlords operating in the market.
"Robust landlord licensing that applied to all private lets would mean that the worst landlords could simply be denied a license if found to discriminate--whether that be on grounds of race, gender, or other life circumstances."
Earlier this year, Wilson has defended the basis on which he decides who can rent his properties.
"We have said nothing against lesbians and homosexuals or coloureds.
"As long as they pay the rent. We are in business to make money so we make a selection based on a sensible business plan.
"If a person came in wearing pink socks and defaulted on rent, and it became a regular probem, then we would stop renting to people who wear pink socks."