Landlord who instructed agent to accept ‘no coloureds’ is handed injunction by court

A landlord who instructed a letting agency in an email not to accept ‘coloured people’ as tenants in his properties acted unlawfully.

An injunction has now been issued at Maidstone County Court at the request of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, which brought its action against well known landlord Fergus Wilson.

The court ruled that his policy of banning Indian and Pakistani tenants was unlawful.

Refusing to let a property based on race breaches section 13 of the Equality Act 2010.

Circuit judge Richard Polden said: “I find that the policy is unlawful. Such a policy has no place in our society.

“This country has proud traditions which this court upholds of welcoming people from various ethnicities and origins.”

The injunction bans Wilson from applying criteria discriminating against “coloured” tenants or those of Indian or Pakistani backgrounds. It will remain in place for three years.

If Wilson complies, no further action will be taken, but if he does not, he could be in contempt of court.

However, Wilson told a local newspaper that he was “mystified by the injunction”. He denied he was racist and said he was joking in his email to the letting agent.

Rebecca Hilsenrath, chief executive of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, said: “We welcome this outlawing by the court of Mr Wilson’s discriminatory letting policy.

“Our homes are fundamental to our private lives and to who we are. Denial of a home on the grounds of race or colour is abhorrent conduct we do not accept in today’s society.

“There are still deep inequalities in our country, as our race report earlier this year demonstrated, and sadly some of the causes of those inequalities were illustrated by Mr Wilson’s comments over the summer. However, today takes us one step closer to a more equal Britain.”

In March, it emerged that Wilson banned “coloured” people from being his tenants because he said they made his properties smell of curry.

He gave the order in an email to letting agents Evolution Properties, in Ashford, Kent.

His email listed Wilson’s requirements to tenants: “No coloured people because of the curry smell at the end of the tenancy.”

He also said he would not let to “battered wives, single parents and zero-hours workers”.

In comments to the Sun, Wilson claimed that curry “sticks to the carpet” which in extreme cases had to be replaced.

Roy Fever, manager at Evolution Properties, told EYE at the time: “We would never implement a policy like that.”

When the allegations first emerged, Hilsenrath condemned Wilson’s remarks as “truly disgusting as well as being unlawful instructions from a landlord to a letting agent”.

Last night, a spokesperson for the Commission told EYE: “Our advice would be for any agents that such actions have been proven to be unlawful, and if they are instructed to carry them out they should refuse and remind them of the outcome of this case.”

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16 Comments

  1. Chris Wood

    What a sad and pathetic excuse for a man. Racism has no place in a modern society.

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    1. Peter

      Well Said

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    2. drakeco75

      Would love to know who has disliked your comment?

      Perhaps Mr Wilson reads eye!!

       

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  2. Robwells85

    Who says Mr Wilson is a racist? And who also says a Landlord can’t choose who he lets his own property/properties to? World gone mad, again.

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    1. smile please

      If you need it explained its a worry.

      To generalise all Indian and Pakistani tenants would be smelly and create an issue for him is discriminatory.

      I guess you are also okay with movie producers pushing themselves on actors and actresses as it their right as well?

       

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    2. Chris Wood

      a) Who says Mr Wilson is a racist?

      b) And who also says a Landlord can’t choose who he lets his own property/properties to?

      a) Common decency (and the Law)

      b) The Law – https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/housing/discrimination-in-housing/identifying-discrimination-in-housing/discrimination-in-housing-what-s-the-unfair-treatment-when-you-want-to-rent-or-buy/

      To add to what ‘smile please’ says, that you have to have this explained to you suggests you probably don’t have much of ‘a’ and almost zero knowledge of ‘b’.

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  3. GeorgeHammond78

    Mystifies me why any self respecting agent would work with him anyway given his track record?

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  4. Carcaco

    I am slightly confused by all of this, and I don’t fully appreciate why a Landlord cannot restrict what he is willing to consider in terms of a potential Tenant for his property.
    I am not saying that Mr Wilson’s comments are not racially motivated, as his past behaviour has made it reasonably clear that he is an intolerant person who doesn’t really have a place in modern society.
    But, surely if he has past bad experiences with Tenants from an asian background leaving his properties with a ‘curry smell’, then he is allowed to remove the risk of being left with a similar problem, by avoiding Tenants from an asian background.
    There is obviously nothing to guarantee that a person of one given race will definitely cause a ‘curry smell’, and equally no guarantee that a person of a different race will definitely not cause a ‘curry smell’, but isn’t this just a game of percentages?
    I have admittedly only worked in the lettings industry for just over 4 years, so I am sure my experience is limited relative to several of the usual posters and readers on this site, but in that time I have rented houses to probably a dozen people from asian backgrounds, and they have all been absolutely lovely.
    They have been polite, easy to deal with, always paid their rent on time, and had good references. However, in each and every instance, we have had issues with this so called ‘curry smell’ and extra levels of grease present in the kitchen.
    This is of course no reflection on them as people and I am still friendly with some of them who no longer rent from us. But it seems to me that due to their culture and cooking preferences, they are far more prone to causing issues like the above at a property.
    So whilst I would never turn someone down on that basis, if one of my Landlords came to me and said they don’t want to take the risk, then I would not really have any moral problem in going along with that logic.
    Maybe this stems partly from the fact I grew up in a largely white middle class area of town with very little exposure to different cultures until more recent years and I am just not understanding fully. Or maybe I have just been extremely unlucky in the Tenants I have encountered from an Asian background, and other people have seen a far more balanced outcome across their tenancies.

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      1. Carcaco

        I am familiar with the Equality Act and the information contained in the link above, and I saw it the first time you posted it.

        I just don’t see why in certain contexts, making decisions based on past experiences Is suddenly classed as discriminatory or racist.

        Yes it may be discriminatory or racist in the eyes of the law these days, but I don’t follow the logic personally.

        And it’s not just in relation to race. I have some landlords who choose couples over single people, because it’s 2 incomes rather than one, and some landlords who prefer a single person because they worry what happens if the couple splits.

        They all have their quirks based on what has come before in their experience or what they have heard from friends, and to me that doesn’t make them bad people or mean that they are being discriminatory or unfair.

        Mr Wilson is perhaps a very poor example as I do agree he is not the nicest person out there and his general demeanour should not be encouraged, but I worry about how much further this reasoning can progress. There is no ‘right’ to a home as far as I know (apologies if I am wrong there) and telling a Landlord who they have to rent to seems a bit iffy.

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        1. Emmersons46

          Making decisions based upon past experiences directed towards an individual or a group is the very definition of discrimination.

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    1. ringi

      There is nothing stopping an agent or landlord visiting someone in their current home before deciding if they will rent to them.     If at that point there is an issue with smells, then it is about facts, not race….

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      1. markpne

        There is if they not live in this country

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      2. Carcaco

        It is true that an inspection would theoretically greatly minimise the risk, but I cannot see too many agents or landlords going to that trouble, especially if they have multiple applicants.

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        1. CountryLass

          I have a few Landlords who want to meet prospective applicants before they are referenced. Some Landlords are happy to trust my judgement on the basis that I’m the one who has to deal with the headaches caused by bad tenants!

          I did have a vendor once have a go at me for trying to arrange a viewing for a Mr Singh (I think, many years ago!) and tell me not to even bother sending ‘those sort’ round and if I tried to do it again then they would take the property from us and go somewhere else! I dearly wanted to tell them to jog on with it, but my Director had other views and wasn’t prepared to lose a listing over it… I was not impressed. Plus, those vendors were idiots who came in to mystery shop us, when their property was on with another branch, they wouldn’t tell me the road name or area, just ‘it’s by XXXXX street’ then got annoyed when I didn’t automatically show them their property. I couldn’t do a generic search as they wouldn’t give me any details!

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    2. Will

      Generally tenants are required to hand back property as they found it subject of course to fair wear and tear.  If a property is handed back dirty then cleaning is permissible charged to the tenant. Excessive grease from certain types of food could be addressed with deep cleaning.  Perhaps treatment to remove excessive smells would  also be chargeable – does anyone have experience of this?  I am not thinking  just curry but perhaps dog smells, urine etc.

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