One of Britain's biggest buy-to-let landlords, Fergus Wilson, has banned "coloured" people from renting his properties because, he says, they leave them smelling of curry.

In an email to a letting agent acting on his behalf, Wilson, who runs a property empire in Kent, said: "No coloured people because of the curry smell at the end of the tenancy."

When contacted by the Sun, Wilson defended his comments, saying : "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.

"You have to get some chemical thing that takes the smell out. In extreme cases you have to replace the carpet."

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Wilson, 69, made headlines this year after saying he would no longer accept victims of domestic violence as tenants because jealous or angry partners typically cause damage by kicking down front doors and punching holes in the interior.

Single parents, workers on low incomes, families with children, pet owners, smokers and single adults are also among those who Wilson has barred from his properties.

A spokesperson for the campaign group Hope Not Hate group said: "You simply cannot treat people like this and deny them a place to live due to their skin colour.

"This is the unacceptable face of the housing crisis. There is something broken in the system when such a powerful figure can get away with such an appalling policy.

"Fergus Wilson's comments would seem laughably offensive, a throwback to the Alf Garnett era, if they weren't so serious in their implication.

Equality and Human Rights Commission chief executive Rebecca Hilsenrath said: "There are still deep inequalities in our society and these comments show why.

"As a country we all assume we have left the dark ages behind, but clearly there is more to be done.

"We will investigate and will be asking Mr Wilson to explain his actions. Unless we are satisfied that he will not break the law in the future we will take legal action."

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Evolution lettings agency manager Roy Fever, who manages a number of Wilson's properties, said: "We don't condone this at all.

"We would never implement a policy like that. We put through anyone to the landlord and it is up to the landlord who they take on."

This article was originally published by the Telegraph.