Because “the smell of curry sticks to carpets,” one of the biggest landlords in the UK is refusing to rent his properties to "coloured people."
Fergus Wilson, owner of Kent property empire which is said to number around 1,000 homes in the Ashford and Maidstone areas, has sent two emails instructing his agents as to the type of people he does not want to rent out his properties to. Earlier this year, he told his agents not to rent out to battered wives, single parents, low income and zero hours workers, or plumbers.
His second email is causing some controversy. He told his agents in the email that "no coloured people because of the curry smell at the end of the tenancy". Wilson's order was leaked to the media. He defended his decision and said that they're getting overloaded with coloured people. He said he has a problem with certain types of coloured people- those who consume curry because it (the smell) sticks to the carpet. He said that at the end of the rental period, they “have to use some kind of chemical thing” to take the smell out in the carpet. He said at times they are even forced to replace the carpets.
There were some strong reactions from people online accusing Wilson of being a racist, and describing his order not to rent out his properties to coloured people as "vile" and "disgusting". Anti-racism charity group HOPE not Hate also said that Wilson's order was an unacceptable throwback to the 1960s. It is urging the Equality and Human Rights Commission to conduct investigations on Wilson's order immediately. Some individuals are also asking that lawsuits be filed against Wilson. It is not a criminal offense in the UK for owners to ban a group of people from renting their properties.
Racial discrimination by a landlord is against civil law, however. The campaign group Generation Rent said any tenant or a tenants' rights group could file a case in court against Wilson. Wilson said he is not racist nor homophobic. He said that one's ability to pay rent is their basis for choosing tenants. He said that they are in the business to make money, so their decisions are based on a sensible business plan.
Wilson's properties are said to be worth £250 million. He is also included in The Sunday Times' rich list. He is said to be in the process of selling their empire because rental properties are less profitable now. He still has hundreds of properties in the south of England.