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Fergus Wilson speaks out about tough new government plans to protect renters from 'unethical' landlords

By Sam Williams

A controversial property mogul says a new scheme making it harder for landlords to evict tenants at short notice will put landlords off renting out their properties.

The government has today revealed plans to protect renters from "unethical" landlords who use Section 21 notices to evict them without a reason after their fixed-term tenancy period ends.

This can see renters evicted from their homes with as little as eight weeks' notice after their contract runs out.

Fergus Wilson, February 2019 (8599895)
Fergus Wilson, February 2019 (8599895)

But as part of a complete overhaul of the sector, Section 21s could be banned, giving renters more long-term security.

Now, millionaire landlord Fergus Wilson, who owned about 1,000 homes across Maidstone and Ashford at the peak of his empire, has spoken out, calling the scheme 'well intended' but not 'well thought out'.

He claims that when section 21 notices are given to tenants there is usually a legitimate reason behind it, such as the renter being in arrears.

He said: "You're getting a distorted picture nationally I think these days, of landlords wanting Section 21 evictions.

"No landlord wants an eviction without good reason, because landlords are motivated by money, they want the rent paid.

"I suggest that what is behind any eviction, unless the landlord is retiring, is the non payment of rent.

"I must be honest, the vast majority of tenants look after the houses wonderfully.

"So it is perhaps a smokescreen, a Section 21, for non payment of rent but it is just a quicker process than using a section 8, which has to have a hearing."

Mr Wilson, from Boughton Monchelsea, near Maidstone, added: "As I understand it if the tenant doesn't pay the rent then the government is all for the tenancy being ended. Well I think with most landlords this is the situation."

He added that the new changes could see landlords 'exiting' the industry because it will put them off purchasing buy-to-rent properties.

He said: "Additionally there have been tax changes that make is far less attractive than it used to be.

"Things like tax relief from mortgage payments isn't what it was previously and many landlords were exiting.

"You have to understand for a landlord a buy-to-let property is an investment, and if it becomes less attractive than other investments than the invester will go for other investments."

Mr Wilson, 70, is now in the process of selling his portfolio of homes along with wife Judith, as the couple are retiring.

He said: "No landlord puts people out without good reason. In my case it is because I am 70 years old and I am retiring."

Fergus and Judith Wilson
Fergus and Judith Wilson

He said of the Section 21 notice: "It works perfectly well for the vast majority of people because not all tenants want a long term tenancy.

"You have to understand that 90% (of people) leave without being pushed by the landlord."

Government evidence shows the end of tenancies through the Section 21 process is one of the biggest causes of family homelessness.

Amina Gichinga, from London Renters Union called the proposed changes 'a vital first step' to ending profiteering from housing.

She said: "The law allows landlords to evict their tenants at a moment's notice, leaving misery and homelessness in its wake."

But the National Landlords Association hit back at the planned changes, saying many landlords were forced to use Section 21 as they have "no confidence" in the courts to deal with Section 8 applications "quickly and surely".

NLA chief executive Richard Lambert said the focus should be on improving the Section 8 and court process instead.

Read more: From wheelbarrow pusher to property tycoon, Fergus Wilson tells all

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