My apologies for the link to the Daily Mail, but it appears that Fergus Wilson is at it again.
For newcomers, Wilson has a considerable history of being a Very Bad Private Landlord. For example, losing to the Equalities and Human Rights Commission on a case about his letting policy discriminating on the basis of race. And then trying to sue a vlogger for a video which justifiably called Wilson a racist, but only because the video also described him as per this screenshot.
Wilson lost that one too. (I was happy to have had a pro bono hand in that.)
Now, perhaps abandoning the choppy waters of the Malicious Communications Act, Fergus Wilson has returned to what he knows best – committing what appear to be substantial breaches of the Equality Act 2010.
What now, you ask? Well he has taken to a) not letting to, and b) evicting single mothers with newborn children.
Mr Wilson said he is ‘not the bad guy’ and claims the rules of Ashford Borough Council forced his hand.
Mr Wilson said 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, were too restrictive’ and that he couldn’t always get a plumber round within the four day period.
Landlords who miss targets face being fined by the council for breaching tenancy agreements if they don’t stuck to rules in its ’emergency maintenance policy’, which state that homes with newborns should have boilers and heating fixed ‘within four days’.
Mr Wilson said he was giving the evicted single mothers ‘two months’ grace’ to find somewhere else to live.
He 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.’
Discrimination? Well yes, it would certainly look like direct sex discrimination. Pregnancy and maternity (which is infant aged up to 6 months) are also protected characteristics, and this certainly looks like direct discrimination on those characteristics too.
It appears that the Equalities and Human Rights Commission also thinks so, because the EHRC is reported as saying
‘We are taking action against Mr Wilson in view of his clearly discriminatory practice against single mothers. We encourage anyone affected by Mr Wilson’s practice to contact us.’
If Wilson adopts the same line of defence in court proceedings that he is quoted as saying, I’d say it would be foolish person who would bet on him being successful… A splat of a man indeed.
We might note that Wilson’s complaint about the shortage of plumbers sits oddly with the fact that his letting policy includes amongst the banned categories… plumbers. Yes, Fergus won’t let to plumbers. And now he is apparently unable to get any to do his repairs.