Controversial property investor Fergus Wilson has been told that his rental policy is unlawful, following his attempt to ban ‘coloureds’ from residing in his homes due to the alleged smell of curry.
Wilson, a multi-millionaire landlord who at one point owned around 1,000 buy to let properties, attempted to ban non-white tenants. His rationale behind the racist move was that the cost of ‘removing the smell of curry at the end of the tenancy was too high.’ An email to his lettings agent also revealed that he does not wish to rent to ‘battered wives, single parents or zero-hours workers’
The revelations prompted the Equality and Human Rights Commission to begin legal proceedings against Wilson, on the basis that his actions denied Indian and Pakistani people the chance to live in his homes. A county court case, brought by the UK Equality Watchdog, Maidstone County Court ruled the policy was unlawful. The refusal to rent or let a property based on race breaches section 12 of the Equality Act 2010.
The court granted an injunction against Wilson’s unlawful requirements, and should he comply, no further action will be taken. If he persists with the discriminatory rental policy, he could be fined under the Contempt of Court Act.
Wilson previously called the police after receiving a backlash following the announcement of his ban. However, he denies that his policy is racist, instead claiming that his issue is with curry cooking, stains and smells rather than the ethnicity of those renting his properties. He claimed that letting to those he described as ‘coloureds’ meant that he had to pay for his carpets to be chemically cleaned or removed.
He claims the last Asian individual to apply for one of his properties was in 2012. Wilson said: ‘I personally find Pakistani and Indian people, like Chinese people, to be extremely clever people and thrifty. That means a disproportionately high number of them own their own homes. Conversely, a disproportionately low number of them are tenants.’
Chief executive of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, Rebecca Hilsenrath, said: ‘These are truly disgusting remarks as well as being unlawful instructions from a landlord to a letting agent. There are still deep inequalities in our society as our race report demonstrated and these comments show why. As a country we all assume we have left the dark ages behind, but clearly there is more to be done.’