A couple who have been described as the ‘King and Queen’ of the buy to let market after they reputedly went up the property ladder faster than anyone in Britain over the last 10 years, left court empty handed this week after a dispute involving a broken toilet lid.
Judith and Fergus Wilson, who are listed as the 34th richest couple in the Sunday Times Rich List, are worth an estimated £70m due to their portfolio of buy to let properties. They were actually worth over double this until the recent property decline halved their fortune.
Mrs Wilson took county court action to demand that two of her former tenants fork out around £3,000 for a new bathroom after it was alleged they had broken part of a toilet cistern which would have cost £212.75 to replace.
The basis of her case was that the particular colour and design of the toilet lid, which was accidentally damaged, had been discontinued. Therefore the entire bathroom suite would need to be replaced.
The court was told how it was actually a friend of the tenants who accidently damaged the toilet during a visit to the property in Hawkinge, Kent. At the time the two tenants were unaware of the damage and were only told of the situation when they tried to get their deposit back after being asked to move out of the two bedroomed house.
They then made every attempt to replace the damaged cistern lid which had been put into the rubbish by the friend who originally caused the damage. A replacement part of a similar colour was put in place by the landlords but the former tenants still made every effort to find an exact match. It was then that they discovered the line had been discontinued.
When questioned Mrs Wilson admitted the house had been left clean and tidy when the couple had moved out but her solicitor argued that she was entitled to have the house in exactly the same condition as she let it.
The judge presiding over the case disagreed and labelled the £3,000 claim for a complete replacement bathroom suite as ‘exaggerated’.
Speaking after the case, Donna Payne, the solicitor acting for the former tenants, said in an interview with the media: “It’s wonderful to see that the judge could see through everything the landlords were saying. They tried to bully these tenants and failed.”
Judith and Fergus Wilson are both former teachers. They entered the buy to let market about 15 years ago and built up a property empire of more than 900 two and three bedroom properties in the Kent area.
It is believed they started selling off part of this portfolio last year when the property slump started to bite although they still have a successful business.