One of the most controversial – and largest – landlords in the UK, Fergus Wilson, has made the news yet again, this time by saying that he will evict single mums with babies, as well as those that become pregnant.
Last year, he made the headlines when he claimed to be banning “coloured” people from renting his properties. He was subsequently issued with a three-year injunction from discriminating against tenants on racial grounds.
Wilson, 69, who runs a property empire in Kent with his wife Judith, has now caused further controversy by stating that he plans to evict single women who become pregnant and single mums with newborn babies.
He is due to be taken to court by the Equality and Human Rights Commission for the second time.
However, he insists that he is not a “bad guy” and blames his decision on the “strict” new enforcement rules being imposed on landlords by Ashford Borough Council, which has announced plans to adopt new powers to crack down on rogue landlords.
Wilson believes that the council’s new policy on landlords having to fix boilers within four days if the tenant is a single mum with a baby is “too restrictive”.
Landlords who miss targets face being fined if they do not comply with the emergency maintenance policy.
Wilson told the Kentish Express: “I just can’t risk something going wrong and not being able to get a plumber there in time – have you ever tried to get a plumber, there’s a national shortage.”
In a letter to Gerald White, Ashford Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for Housing, Wilson claimed: “It is heartbreaking to terminate the contracts, but we cannot recruit staff and service the tenants. The landlord has proved to be a controversial figure (Picture: PA) ‘The council has brought this decision on itself’.
“We know we will not be able to comply with that expectation so (I) have brought these tenancies to an end.”
He confirmed that he had already given four single mums with babies two months’ notice to vacate his properties.
Speaking earlier this month, White said that he was delighted at the new enforcement powers: “I’m supportive of the proposed implementation of the civil penalty policy to allow the council to consider imposing fines on landlords who fail to comply with housing law, as an alternative to prosecution.
“Implementing the policy will hopefully deter landlords from failing in their responsibilities in providing safe homes and ensuring that they comply with the relevant housing law.”
A Spokesperson for Ashford Borough Council argued that it would only use enforcement action against landlords as a “last resort”.
They continued: “We have duty to ensure decent standards for tenants who are renting privately. We always work with landlords to ensure those standards are met and try to assist them as much as possible.
“Formal enforcement action is very much a last resort, but we will take action where necessary.”