Tag Archives: landlord abuse

Buy-to-let tycoon Fergus Wilson facing legal action after admitting he banned ‘coloured’ tenants making his homes ‘stink of curry’

fergus-wilson

Britain’s biggest buy-to-let landlord Fergus Wilson is facing legal action after defending his policy to direct his letting agents not to let his properties to “coloured” people whom he claimed make his homes “stink of curry”.

Mr Wilson refused to deny making a list of requirements for tenants in an email to a letting agent seen by the Sun newspaper. He did however say that it was “some time ago”.

Wilson, who has previous convictions for assault and who last year failed in a bid to run for the role of Kent’s police and crime commissioner, said the controversy started when he bought a house in Ashford at a discounted price because of a strong smell of curry.

“I said when I bought it that within six months it’d be sorted but we just could not get rid of the bloody smell – it absolutely stank of curry,” he told Kent News.

“The carpets had to come up and the whole job meant throwing £12,000 down the drain.”

Mr Wilson then bought another house nearby but said a mixed-race family left the house smelling of curry at the end of their tenancy.

“It was a case of once bitten, twice shy,” he said.

“Having spent six months on the first one I said ‘no I’ve have enough, I do not want to take on another house where I have to get rid of a curry smell’.

“Yes, I accept not every individual coloured person likes and eats curry but I think a high proportion do and I had to go on probabilities.

“It was done because I did not care to repeat the experiences of before.”

When challenged on the use of language many would find offensive, he responded: “I use the term ‘coloured’ because it’s quicker and easier than saying ‘people from India, people from Africa and people who are Arabic’.

“To anybody who says I’m racist, I’ve just employed a coloured person.”

“Battered-wife” letting ban

This is not the first time Mr Wilson has been in the public eye for discriminating potential tenants. In January he issued letting criteria which banned single mums, battered wives, plumbers and low income earners.

His ban on battered wives came following his attempt to run stand for election for Kent’s Police and Crime Commissioner on an anti-domestic violence platform. In the end his candidacy was ruled ineligible by the election officer for his previous assault conviction. Wilson also claimed that if elected he would return illegal immigrants to France the day after they arrive in Kent.

Speaking to the Sun Wilson denied he was a racist 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.”

He further claimed that while he doesn’t today employ a specific policy banning “coloureds” he estimates he’s only rented to 14 mixed-race tenants over his two decades in the property business.

“As long as their money is green, we’re happy to have them,” he said.

“But if the same situation happened again tomorrow, I would say the say thing, because I was being practical.”

Discrimination investigation

Rebecca Hilsenrath, the chief executive of the Equality and Human Rights Commission said the watchdog would be investigating the comments and warning Wilson that he could face legal action.

“These are truly disgusting remarks as well as being unlawful instructions from a landlord to a letting agent,” she said. “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. We will investigate and will be asking Mr Wilson to explain his actions. Unless we are satisfied that he will not commit unlawful acts in the future we will take legal action”.

The Renters Alliance helps renters with bad landlords and letting agents. If you have a story you would like to share, please contact the National Renters Alliance through our website or email us at contact@nralliance.co.uk

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Britain’s biggest buy-to-let landlord bans ‘coloureds’ from renting his properties because they ‘make them smell of curry’

Fergus Wilson and his wife Judith CREDIT: REX FEATURES
Fergus Wilson and his wife Judith CREDIT: REX FEATURES

Britain’s biggest buy-to-let landlord has banned ‘coloureds’ from renting his properties because they make them smell of curry.

In an email to his letting agent Evolution Properties, Fergus Wilson, 70 from Kent said: “No coloured people because of the curry smell at the end of the tenancy.”

Wilson who is reportedly worth around £100 million is no stranger to controversy.  In January it emerged that he banned “battered wives” from his properties claiming he does not want to risk ex-husbands or boyfriends returning to destroy his houses.

Also included on the list of proscribed tenants were children under 18, single adults, battered wives, tenants without a rent guarantee, people on housing benefit, low income workers, zero hours workers, plumbers, smokers and pet owners.

Wilson, who at one point owned 1,000 homes in Maidstone and Ashford, was unrepentant when challenged about the latest ban.

“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.”

While Mr Wilson’s latest policy would not breach criminal law he could be sued in a civil court and has already been chastised by anti-racism group Hope Not Hate.

In December 2014 he banned tenants who shared his surname after several cases of ‘mistaken identity’ led to council tax disputes.

In the same year he sent eviction notices to over 200 of his tenants, many from low income backgrounds, claiming that he was “sending battered wives back to their partners to be beaten up again”.  He was also convicted in the same year for assaulting an estate agent over a broken boiler which he denied, claiming that he was “too fat to punch anybody or even tie his own shoelaces”.

Evolution, which manages hundreds of Wilson’s properties, has also condemned the policy and said it would never implement it. Evolution’s manager, Roy Fever, said: “We don’t condone this at all.

“We would never implement a policy like that. We put through anyone to the landlord and it is up to the landlord who they take on.”

The Renters Alliance helps renters with bad landlords and letting agents. If you have a story you would like to share, please contact the National Renters Alliance through our website or email us at contact@nralliance.co.uk

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Child sex abuser who applied for landlord license from jail among four Glasgow men banned from letting properties

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Four landlords including a convicted child sex offender from Govanhill have been banned from renting homes by Glasgow City Council.

Muhammed Anwar applied for renewal of his landlord registration while serving a six-year jail sentence for three child sex abuse offences. The application was refused by a council committee along with three other rogue landlords.

The other men: Akhtar Ali, Ashiq Mohammed and Shabnam Sattar were found to be no longer fit to be landlords by Glasgow city council’s licensing and regulatory committee due to issues with their properties.

Mr Ali’s ban arose from concerns about his property management following a fire at one of his properties in Glenapp Street which resulted in two people being taken to hospital.

Additional  inspections of properties on Prince Edward Street, Garturk Street and Hickman Street revealed that gas and electricity meters had been by-passed and the flats had no smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.

Ashiq Mohammed and Shabnam Sattar failed fit and proper persons tests. Both did not provide enhanced criminal record certificates, current building insurance policies, confirmation form tenants that they had received their information packs, gas safety and energy performance certificates.

A spokesman for Glasgow council said: “We are very pleased that the work of the Landlord Registration Unit has been endorsed by the Licensing Committee.

“Our team is determined to ensure that those people on the Landlord Register are fit to be landlords.

“Whenever there is evidence that a landlord is no longer a suitable person to rent out property or they fail to manage their property appropriately, we will always seek to take action against them.

“Govanhill has been an area of the city where particular problems with landlords have been identified. The additional powers available to us through Govanhill’s Enhanced Enforcement Area are helping us to improve housing standards in the area.”

Wider Problem

The most recent bans from the landlord register comes following the banning of nine rogue Glasgow landlords in November. One of men banned had been convicted of assault with intent to rape.

The latest crackdown on rogue landlords in Glasgow comes following a highly publicized BBC Scotland investigation in August last year into housing abuse in Govanhill. It is reported that housing conditions are so bad that in some cases newborn babies are living in flats without running water.

Banned landlords may face prosecution and a fine of up to £50,000 if they attempt to let a property in future.

The Renters Alliance helps renters with bad landlords and letting agents. If you have a story you would like to share, please contact the National Renters Alliance through our website or email us at contact@nralliance.co.uk

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Sheffield Landlord with two previous criminal convictions for harassing tenants again found guilty of harassment

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A buy-to-let landlord in Sheffield with two previous convictions for harassment has been ordered to undertake 180 hours of unpaid community service for harassing a tenant and failing to adequately manage his property. Nilendu Das, of Carterknowle Avenue, who was convicted at Sheffield’s Magistrates Court, was also been ordered to pay £2,412 in court costs, fines and compensation.

The court heard how on one occasion Das sent ten text messages in a three minute period to one of his tenants. On another occasion, 15 messages were sent to the tenant in one the day, which included a text informing the tenant that he must vacate the property.

In addition to the harassment charge,  Das also pleaded guilty to four health and safety breaches relating to the property on Sackville Road, Sheffield. The court heard that there were damaged fire doors, an unprotected means of fire escape and faulty fire alarm systems.

Well known in Sheffield housing circles, Mr Das has previous convictions for harassment in February 2012 and August 2013 with the latter resulting in a 49 day prison sentence. Das was also convicted of failing to comply with a council improvement notice and failure to adequately manage properties.

During his 2013 trial, it was revealed that Mr Das sent his son to private school while falsely claiming £17,000 in council tax benefit and Job seeker’s allowance over two years. At the same time his tenants were forced to live in properties with mouldy walls, broken doors and lack of insulation.

Das was sentenced to 26 weeks in prison for fraud for four failures to comply with improvement notices and harassing a former tenant. While awaiting sentencing, Das was also serving a suspended prison sentence for changing the locks at the flat of another tenant who had complained his home was unsafe. Das had written into his tenancy agreements any tenant who complained would be charged £350.

In his defense Das’s lawyer claimed that his client had ‘got lost in a fog of figures’. “This is a man who operates with an IQ of one, only just above the base line.”

Speaking about Das’ latest conviction, Councillor Jayne Dunn, cabinet member for housing at Sheffield City Council, said: “This case is serious. The landlord has been convicted twice before for similar offences and he knows how strictly the court treats these matters.

“We don’t just investigate issues where we hear about tenants being threatened or evicted illegally. As this case shows, we also prosecute when there is lower-level harassment and when the landlord acts in a way which is outside the law.

“Everyone deserves to live in safe, good quality housing regardless of whether they rent or own their home. I am determined to carry on clamping down on the very small minority of bad landlords in Sheffield that treat their tenants badly and tarnish the private rented sector.”

The Renters Alliance helps renters with bad landlords and letting agents. If you have a story you would like to share, please contact the National Renters Alliance through our website or email us at contact@nralliance.co.uk

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Average of only one rogue landlord per council is prosecuted each year according to Parliament figures.

Eviction Notice

An average of only one rogue landlord per council is prosecuted each year according to Parliament figures.

Speaking in a debate about the Housing and Planning Bill, the Labour MP Karen Buck claimed that over the last eight years only 2,000 landlords have been prosecuted for housing disrepair across the whole of the UK. The low number of landlord prosecutions stands in sharp contrast with the estimated 700,000 privately rented properties which have a category one hazard which include faulty electrics, damp and broken boilers.

The figures were presented in a debate about standards in the Private Rented Sector in February. During the session, Ms Buck asked the Government’s Planning Minister, Brandon Lewis, whether the low number of landlord prosecutions provided irrefutable evidence that local authorities lack the resources to investigate cases of housing disrepair.

Mr Lewis was also asked whether laws should be passed to allow tenants to take civil action against rogue landlords when their properties are unfit for human habitation. In response Mr Lewis claimed that the proposed Housing and Planning Bill would give councils extra resources to improve housing conditions. It was also stated that councils would be permitted to issue civil penalties against landlords of up to £30,000 and issue rent payment orders for up to 12 months’ rent.

Also participating in the debate was the Labour MP Tulip Siddiq who asserted that many of her constituents who rent privately have reported being the victim of revenge evictions. This comes despite the practice being made illegal for rental agreements signed since 1st October 2015.

Revenge evictions still a problem

Revenge or retaliatory eviction is where a landlord threatens to evict a tenant for requesting repairs or complaining about conditions in their home. It often this affects private tenants with assured shorthold tenancy (AST) agreements since they are the easiest to evict. ASTs are currently the most common type of tenancy agreement in the UK and is usually the default contract type for private sector renters.

Despite the new revenge eviction laws, many private tenants are worried that if they complain too much they will be evicted. Furthermore, figures gathered by Radio 1 Newsbeat through Freedom of Information requests show that more than half of local councils across England have not used their new powers under the revenge eviction law. Tightening of council budgets is also claimed to be a further impediment to investigating housing complaints. The Housing Law Practitioners Association is also concerned that the way the law is designed is too complicated.

The extent of the housing crisis comes as data show that private sector rented housing is the most expensive and has the lowest standards of any housing type.  According to Parliament reports, private renters now spend an average of 49% of their income on rent despite nearly one-in-three privately rented houses failing to meet minimum government housing standards.

The Renters Alliance helps renters with bad landlords and letting agents. If you have a story you would like to share, please contact the National Renters Alliance through our website or email us at contact@nralliance.co.uk

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Rogue landlord who conned more than 100 tenants jailed for 45 months and ordered to pay £225,000

Housing scam Manchester
Tahir Khaliq was jailed for 45 months (Photo: National Trading Standards)

 A rogue landlord who exploited over 100 tenants has been jailed. Tahir Khaliq, 49, who ran a chain of letting agency firms from his office in Bury, Greater Manchester accepted holding deposits from multiple prospective tenants for the same same property then claimed they all failed credit checks and kept the cash.

During his trial at Bolton Crown Court, it was revealed that Khaliq also falsified home insurance claims and left many tenants living in squalid properties.

Khaliq is previously know for sharp practice. In 2012 he was the subject of a Channel Five ‘Cowboy Traders’ investigation into one of his firms Lancashire Lettings.

Perhaps his most lucrative scam was deliberately failing credit checks for prospective tenants and pocketing their holding deposits. Khaliq asked prospective tenants who wished to rent one of his properties to pay a  holding fee/deposit of £200 to £400 to take a property off the market.

However, unknown to the tenants, money was collected from several other prospective tenants all hoping to rent the same property. Once the money was collected, Khaliq informed them that they had failed credit checks and refused to refund their money. He further instructed his staff to participate in the scam ordering them to accept but never return the holding deposits.

Khaliq also arranged for fake home insurance claims to be submitted with fabricated quotes and invoices with the help of employee Paul Dickinson.

Prosecutor Andrew Thomas told the court the “blatant” insurance scam worked by submitting genuine-looking but inflated quotes from two invented firms.

The prosecutor also revealed that Khaliq used the pseudonym ‘Jack Daniels’ in these transactions in a bid to hide his identity from complainers.

Mr Thomas said: “It was blatant dishonesty. Lies were told to fob off those who wanted their money back.

“Many of the victims were vulnerable people, mainly people on low incomes who were struggling to obtain adequate housing.

“Many of the tenants were on housing benefits and not well off and very often vulnerable because of financial circumstances or other difficulties.”

“Lies were told about two things: who was living in the property and the fabrication of estimates and invoices for repair work.

“Internal emails showed Paul Dickinson was the author of the bogus documents and Mr Khaliq was involved.

“In reality the works were done by their own handymen at a fraction of the cost.”

A third scam also saw Khaliq and Dickinson collect rent for 119 properties they managed on behalf of liquidators Ernst and Young – which a court heard they failed to pass on.

Khaliq also instigated a council tax avoidance scheme perpetrated against Bury and Bolton councils. He also arranged for counterfeit accountant letters to support a £3million Co-op Bank loan application.

Khaliq admitted two counts of making an article for use in fraud, two of conspiracy to commit fraud, one of theft and three counts of fraud. He has now been sentenced to 45 months in prison and has been ordered to pay back £100,000 and pay court costs of £125,000. He was also disqualified from being a company director for 10 years.

During sentencing,  Judge Graeme Smith told Khaliq: “You instigated and directed several different fraudulent schemes.

“Though some were directed at institutions such as banks and insurance companies, one of them caused harm to those in a vulnerable position.”

Dickinson, of Leigh, Greater Manchester, admitted theft and six counts of fraud and was given a two year suspended sentence. He was also ordered to pay £24,280 and prosecution costs of £15,000, was disqualified from being a company director for six years and told to complete 240 hours of unpaid work.

Judge Graeme Smith told Dickinson he was suspending his sentence so he could dedicate his spare time to his 10-year-old twin sons – one of whom is seriously ill.

The Renters Alliance helps renters with bad landlords and letting agents. If you have a story you would like to share, please contact the National Renters Alliance through our website or email us at contact@nralliance.co.uk

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Tech Startup allows Landlords to Stalk Renters Social Media

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Landlords in the UK may soon find it easier to track renters’s private social media content using software developed by a UK startup.  The company, Score Assured, uses a program to scan prospective tenants’ social media profiles and private posts to record information such as relationship and family status.  Also recorded are key words such as “no money,” “poor” and “staying in” which the company claims may indicate how reliable a tenant may be in maintaining rent payments.

The company’s co-founder, Steve Thornhill, has rejected claims that the program breaches privacy laws saying that the software is more innocent than it appears.  “It’s about giving the tenant more opportunity to get the property they want,” he says. “A lot of people now, millennials, for example, don’t have credit scores — so how they can get a property when the answer from the traditional credit score is going to be no?”

Supporters of the program claim that a tenant must consent to a landlord running the program on their social media profiles before it can be used.  Thornhill claims that such consent means that the program, Tenant Assured, is no different from a traditional credit check.

Others say that often tenants have no other option than to accept the download of their social media information to secure a property and hence tenants will be forced to accept an invasion of their privacy.  Also consumer protection laws regulate credit checks because of their potentially large impact on consumers.  Regulators also have recognized that although such checks may technically be “opt in,” they’re effectively not optional for those who don’t have the luxury of only choosing landlords, jobs or loans that don’t require them, or who work in industries or live in areas where such checks are standard practice.

 

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