‘No coloured people because of the curry smell’: UK’s biggest landlord investigated over ‘disgusting remark’

Landlord Fergus Wilson, who owns nearly 1,000 homes, has previously banned domestic violence victims and single parents

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 29 March, 2017, 9:02am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 29 March, 2017, 10:58pm

The British equalities watchdog has threatened Fergus Wilson, reputedly Britain’s biggest landlord, with legal action after he reportedly tried to ban “coloured” tenants from his properties.

Wilson, who owns nearly 1,000 homes across Ashford and Maidstone in Kent, is said to have told a lettings agency, Evolution, that “coloured” people leave a smell in his property.

The directive, seen by the Sun newspaper, reportedly reads: “No coloured people because of the curry smell at the end of the tenancy.”

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.

It is a problem with certain types of coloured people – those who consume curry
Fergus Wilson on the smell supposedly left by ‘coloured’ tenants

“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”.

Evolution told the Sun it did not condone the policy and would not implement it, while anti-racism groups condemned the email.

Wilson, 69, who has not responded to requests from the Guardian for comment, told the Sun: “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.”

The landlord is previously said to have barred domestic violence victims from renting his homes, as he reportedly claimed that jealous or angry partners would cause damage by kicking down front doors and punching holes in the interior.

He is also said to have blocked plumbers, single parents, workers on low income or zero-hours contracts, families with children, pet owners, smokers and single adults.

A spokesman for the campaign group Hope Not Hate said: “You simply cannot treat people like this and deny them a place to live due to their skin colour. This is the unacceptable face of the housing crisis. There is something broken in the system when such a powerful figure can get away with such an appalling policy.

“Fergus Wilson’s comments would seem laughably offensive, a throwback to the Alf Garnett era, if they weren’t so serious in their implication. Mr Wilson should face the full legal implications of his actions.”

A spokesman for Kent police said: “Kent police is aware of this issue and will be working to establish if any offences have taken place.”