Landlord Fergus Wilson's 'curry smell' ban is unlawful, court rules

8 November 2017, 16:43

A buy-to-let landlord who banned Indian and Pakistani tenants because he claimed they left his property smelling of curry has been told the policy is unlawful.

Fergus Wilson, 69, told his letting agencies in March not to allow his homes to be rented by "coloured people" because he said they left a "curry smell" in the homes at the end of the tenancy.

He was taken to court by the Equality and Human Rights Commission, and on Wednesday, a judge at Maidstone County Court ruled such discrimination was unlawful.

Mr Wilson was handed a three-year injunction, which means he is not allowed to stop tenants renting from him because of their race.

If he does not comply, he could face a fine or jail for contempt of court.

Regarded as one of Britain's biggest buy-to-let investors, Mr Wilson owns hundreds of properties in Kent.

The Commission's chief executive Rebecca Hilsenrath 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."

According to the Guardian, he represented himself in court on Wednesday, saying: "All the local people here agree with me. It's perfectly legal not to buy a house because you think it smells of curry.

"If you are in Luton or Bedford, maybe that won't make a difference. But in Ashford and Maidstone, 99% of the population are not from India or Pakistan.

"The problem is that if you have a £250,000 mid-terrace house, the valuation drops by £50,000 if it smells of curry."

:: Landlord Fergus Wilson defends 'no coloured people' ban over curry

In January, Mr Wilson also banned plumbers, single parents, people with children under the age of 18, and "battered wives" in the criteria sent to agencies representing his properties in January.

Outside court he maintained there was a "problem" with people "cooking curries" in their homes.

He said: "It gets into the carpets, it gets into the walls.

"You'll find that most landlords think the same. I'm here because I said it."

He said the remarks were "a bit of adolescent banter", adding: "The real issue here is nothing about right or wrong or whether it's lawful, it's really the investment strategy of new entrants to buy-to-let.

"Many of them will not purchase at all now.

"Because of what happened, because of that email being sent off, there will be people who will not be housed, people not buying buy-to-let properties, and the Government needs private investors to buy buy-to-let properties."