Landlord evicts Mums and pregnant women

Ryan Bembridge

July 20, 2018

A landlord with a £200m property portfolio has evicted Mums and pregnant women with two months’ notice – blaming his local council, Kent Online reports.

Fergus Wilson terminated the contracts of four mothers, claiming Ashford Borough Council could fine him £30,000 if he failed to fix faulty boilers and heating systems within four days if there is a baby in the house.

However when contacted by Mortgage Introducer an Ashford Borough Council representative said this ‘four day time limit’ claim is absolute nonsense, adding that Wilson made a number of spurious claims, of which this was just one.

Kate Faulkner, owner of Designs on Property, said: “Mums with babies are usually good long-term tenants who take care of the property.

“I don’t know why anybody would want to get rid of them. The only reason to kick a tenant out is because it’s in arrears.”

Wilson claimed there’s a shortage of plumbers, which could leave him open to being fined.

However Faulkner added: “Most landlords of his size would have a set of spare heaters.

“I’ve done that before as a landlord when there was a problem with a boiler a week before Christmas.

“I thought ‘you’re not getting a plumber out then’ so I got the agent to send two heaters round for the sake of £30.”

Wilson has attracted controversy before. Last year he was in the papers for banning Indian and Pakistani tenants because he claimed they left his property smelling of curry.

Paul Shamplina, founder of eviction service Landlord Action, said: “It’s extremely harsh to say the least.

“Of course it is distressing for a family and a young pregnant mother facing eviction, but the vast majority of landlords out there want tenants to stay in their properties as long as possible providing they pay the rent and look after the property.”

He added: “The government is consulting about three year tenancy agreements to try and offer tenants protection but of course there always needs to be a break clause in those contracts

“Landlords should be incentivised to provide longer tenancies.”

Wilson wrote an open letter to councillor Gerald White, cabinet member for housing, about the evictions.

The letter said: “It is heartbreaking to (terminate the contracts) but we cannot recruit staff and service the tenants.

“The council has brought this decision on itself.

“It sounds like have a baby and lose your home and that is what it amounts to.”

It added: “If there were to be a problem with hot water then we cannot get a gas safety engineer in under four days, when the council requires the work to be done ‘immediately’.

“We know we will not be able to comply with that expectation so have brought these tenancies to an end.

“There is no criticism of the tenants whatsoever.”

In response Ashford Borough Council released a formal statement.

A spokesman said: “We have a duty to ensure decent standards of housing for tenants who are renting privately. Priority will be given to addressing poor housing conditions that threaten the safety and wellbeing of occupiers.

“The process is that formal action is very much a last resort. Our housing team works with landlords on an informal basis to try to resolve problems and expects tenants to have informed the landlord of problems and try to resolve them themselves, before we will get involved.

“However, if we get nowhere and have to issue a formal notice, we will then put a timescale within which we require the action to be completed satisfactorily. This will be in accordance with what is reasonable and the team will check with local trades about what a reasonable time is. It will vary depending on each case being dealt with.”

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