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Controversial landlord Fergus Wilson has hit out at new council rules that he feels could force him to evict single women who become pregnant and single mums with babies.
The 69 year-old is one of Britain’s largest buy to let investors, owning hundreds of properties in Maidstone and Ashford, Kent, and previously made headlines through his remarks banning ‘coloured’ tenants from his properties on the basis that they ‘left behind a curry smell.’
Wilson has already served section 21 notices on four mothers with young children last week, although he said that this gives them two months notice and he would help to ensure they were not left homeless.
However, he blames Ashford Borough Council for his decision, claiming that the council’s new policy on landlords having to fix boilers within four days if the tenant is a single mum with a child under five is ‘too restrictive’.
The new council rules mean that if a household contains children under the age of five then emergency works to boilers must be carried out within four days, whereas in other properties the rule is simply for the repairs to be carried out ‘as soon as possible’. Landlords can be subjected to fines of up to £30,000 for not following the rules.
Wilson spoke out to the Kentish express, saying: ‘Landlords who miss targets face being fined if they don’t abide by the ’emergency maintenance’ policy. I just can’t risk something going wrong and not being able to get a plumber there in time – have you ever tried to get a plumber, there’s a national shortage.
In a letter to Gerald White, Ashford Borough Council’s cabinet member for housing, Mr Wilson wrote: ‘It is heartbreaking to terminate the contracts, but we cannot recruit staff and service the tenants.’
‘The council has brought this decision on itself,’ he added, ‘we know we will not be able to comply with that expectation so I have brought these tenancies to an end.’
He added; ‘There is no criticism of the tenants whatsoever.’
Mr White said: ‘I’m supportive of the proposed implementation of the civil penalty policy to allow the council to consider imposing fines on landlords who fail to comply with housing law, as an alternative to prosecution.’
He continued: ‘Implementing the policy will hopefully deter landlords from failing in their responsibilities in providing safe homes and ensuring that they comply with the relevant housing law.’
A spokesman for Ashford Borough Council added: ‘We have duty to ensure decent standards for tenant who are renting privately. ‘We always work with landlords to ensure those standards are met and try to assist them as much as possible. ‘Formal enforcement action is very much a last resort, but we will take action where necessary.’