One of Britain’s biggest landlords, Fergus Wilson, under investigation by the Equality and Human Rights Commission for banning “colored people” whom he claims leave his properties “smelling of curry” is in the news once again.
Wilson has suggested a specialist insurance company should be set up to deal with cases where tenants leave homes smelling of curry. The property tycoon, who lives in Boughton Kent, is currently facing legal action from a public body after banning Indian and Pakistani tenants from renting his properties because he claimed they left a bad smell.
The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) has recently applied for an injunction at Central London County Court against Wilson over his controversial lettings policy. Mr Wilson who denies accusations of racism, insists his decision is purely economical after spending thousands of pounds removing the smell of curry from one of his properties.
Speaking to Kent News, Wilson has called for an insurance policy to be in place to cover him in such situations in the future. “If someone punches a wall and leaves a dent, you can take a photograph to prove it,” he said.
“How do you prove there is a smell? It’s impossible to prove because they might have got so used to the smell that they don’t notice it.
“The thing is, a curry smell is not malicious damage – we are insured for someone smashing the house up but not for that.
“If they are cooking curry they are not doing it maliciously but they are ‘injuring’ the house. If the EHRC set up their own insurance company to underwrite claims there would be no problem. If that had been in place I would not have made those comments.
“These are all economic judgments. It costs as much for a new carpet as you are achieving in rent for six months.”
Battered wife ban
Wilson is no stranger to controversy. In January this year 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.
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”.
Wilson admits there was an element of discrimination in his “no-coloreds” policy, but insisted it was legal and fair because car insurance companies impose higher premiums on “high-risk” drivers.
“I live in rural Kent and you do not get an awful lot of people making an application from that ethic group,” he said.
“However, no one, but no one has done more for black tenants in Ashford than I have – I have bent over backwards to help them.”
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