Fergus Wilson was courting controversy long before he appeared on last night’s episode of Panorama.
The buy-to-let landlord, widely considered to be the one of the most contentious in Britain, is currently in the process of selling his entire portfolio of around 300 residential properties, with the show examining the impact of his decision on tenants.
The property tycoon, who at one point owned almost 1,000 properties in and around Kent with his wife, Judith, has spent the past few weeks filming with Panorama, with a view to giving a landlord’s perspective on the housing market in this country.
The Wilsons have become infamous for their strict rules on who they will allow to live in homes they own.
In the past they have refused to take people on benefits, battered wives, plumbers, those on zero hours contracts, single women who become pregnant and single mums with newborn babies.
Wilson told BBC reporter, Richard Bilton, that as the landlord he is in charge. “Basically, we have got two types of tenants - those who agree with me and ex-tenants.”
He added: “I can do what I like. You don't want me to lie about it, do you?”
The landlord pointed to the need to build significantly more homes in this country, highlighting the fact that private landlords cannot cater for every renter in the UK.
Wilson continued: “Not everyone on housing benefit is a problem, but every problem is on housing benefit.
“The problem is they don't get paid enough in benefits from Her Majesty’s government to pay the rent.
“What you have to understand is that the private sector landlord does not have a duty of care. It is the local council who has the duty of care.”
Wilson, aged 70, issued 90 eviction notices in January to tenants in his properties, giving them two months’ to move out, as part of his plan to offload hundreds of homes collectively worth about £250m.
“The landlord rules, not the tenant,” he added.