Fergus Wilson is one of the UK's largest "buy-to-let" landlords. The English property millionaire is said to own around 1,000 homes across Ashford and Maidstone in Kent.
He also holds the distinct honor of inciting an investigation into his business practices by England's Equality and Human Rights Commission—and could possibly face legal action in the near future. Why, you ask? That's because the former math teacher was telling real estate agents working on his behalf that they shouldn't rent his properties to "coloured people", because the smell of curry "sticks to the carpet".
In an email that was recently leaked to English media outlets, the 70-year-old tycoon told the Evolution Properties agents working to rent his properties the following: "No coloured people because of the curry smell at the end of the tenancy." The directive followed one he sent out at the beginning of the year, which informed agents they shouldn't rent to single parents, wives who were victims of abuse by their spouse, people working as plumbers, and low-income/zero hour workers.
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This certainly isn't the first time that Wilson has run into trouble for his business actions. Back in 2014, the wealthy landlord was found guilty of assaulting an estate agent he had hired to manage 280 properties. At the time, Wilson claimed that he couldn't possibly hit the agent, because he was too fat and that he "can't even lift my arms to put my jacket on."
Defending himself, Wilson 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." He added, "You have to get some chemical thing that takes the smell out. In extreme cases you have to replace the carpet."
Needless to say, tenants' rights groups and anti-racism nonprofits are less than pleased with Wilson's words and policies. Dan Wilson Craw, interim director of Generation Rent, told The Independent, "Fergus Wilson's words are a disgraceful throwback to a time when racial discrimination in housing was common in this country, and [although] his actions do not break criminal law, he could be challenged with a civil case under the Equality Act."
"You simply cannot treat people like this and deny them a place to live due to their skin colour," a spokesman for anti-racism group HOPE added. "This is the unacceptable face of the housing crisis."