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Last Updated: Friday, 30 July, 2004, 21:34 GMT 22:34 UK
Vegan landlord bans meat-eaters
Michael Sosner
Michael Sosner has been a vegan for the past six years
A vegan landlord in Swansea is advertising for home hunters who are non-meat eaters.

Michael Sosner says vegetarians make good tenants, saying they are sociable, healthier and prefer to live in a meat-free environment.

His company owns four properties in Swansea and Neath which are rented to vegans and vegetarians.

But the meat trade said that, while he had the right to pick tenants, he was excluding 97% of the population.

I shared a place with meat eaters and had to have my own fridge and my own make-shift kitchen
Tenant Nicola Williams

A vegetarian most of his adult life, Mr Sosner stopped eating dairy products six years ago and now 80% of his diet consists or raw fruit and vegetables.

"About four years ago a group of us tried to buy a 21 bedroom hotel together which we were going to run as a vegan enterprise," he said.

"That fell through. A couple of us kept tossing the idea back and fore and just over a year ago a friend paid for me to go on a property investment course and I came out of that and bought the properties.

"It struck me the social element of having vegans and vegetarians together was quite nice.

"Generally there is good feeling for me dealing with vegetarians and generally I think they make good tenants.

Nicola Williams
Nicola Williams said she was unhappy living with meat eaters

"They are less likely to smoke as they follow a more healthy lifestyle and they tend to look after the flats well.

"They know I will not have items such as leather furniture in the flats and there are little things like using energy saving light bulbs to be a little more ecological."

Nicola Williams was one vegetarian who was eager to rent a flat from Mr Sosner's company Vegan Investments.

"I was not happy with where I was living," she said.

"I shared a place with meat eaters and had to have my own fridge and my own make-shift kitchen.

"I came to see this place and fell in love with it."

Mr Sosner gets many of his tenants through word of mouth, has advertised in the Vegan Society magazine and through a local property management company.

He has rented to non-vegetarians in the past and says if any of his flats were vacant too long he may have to do so in the future as he is running a business.

But he added: "There is a very strong vegan and vegetarian group in Swansea - probably the strongest in Wales.

Michael Sosner and Karen Honybun
Karen Honybun moved from Kent to rent from Mr Sosner

"It's going well at the moment, people are even coming from outside the area and I feel that's a lovely thing."

Karen Honybun moved to Swansea from Kent after spotting an advert for the flats in the Vegan Society magazine.

"I've been a vegan for 20 years and a vegetarian most of my life," she said.

"There's a different energy in vegan and vegetarian places which is very peaceful and comforting."

However, Graham Bidston, of the National Federation of Meat and Food Traders, said: "It's his choice of course.

"He is rather limiting his customer base to about 3% of the population."

Your comments:

I fully support them. Personally I am a meat eater, but it is their property and, therefore, their choice of tenants. Whatever happened to freedom of choice in this country!
Rob Lloyd, Ross-on-Wye

Not only does he have the right, he has shown a great deal of moral fortitude in pursuing his beliefs. I only wish we had vegan apartments here in the US.
Joseph Gregg, Columbus GA USA

That is so wonderful! I wish he owned properties in the US so I could rent from him!
Phoebe, San Francisco, USA

This is so awesome. I absolutely can't stand the smell of frying muscle and flesh. Finally! An apartment building that doesn't make me wanna retch!
Crystal, San Francisco, CA

Why not? There seems to be a real backlash against animal friendly attitudes at the moment. I could see there would be a real problem if the decision was based on things that were natural to the prospective tenant, such as ethnicity or sexuality, but eating animals is a choice. If someone chooses to continue to eat meat then tough luck mate, you can't choose to rent from this fella, no big deal, look elsewhere.
Owen Llewellyn, England

I think that those who complain that restricting flat occupancy to vegetarians and vegans amounts to some sort of discrimination are being very asinine. Landlords for decades have been able to keep out smokers and pet owners, this is no different.
Cie Siyavash Sharp, Huntington, NY, USA

Hey, it's his fault when he runs out of customers. It's not like he's the only landlord that accepts vegans, he just doesn't accept anyone else. Never let politics get in the way of business. Then again, if he wants to alienate 97% of his potential customers, that's his choice.
David, Dryden, NY

The property is his, the terms should be his.

He is within his legal rights, but this is absurd. I am a vegetarian. I do not live with the insane idea that being vegetarian makes me a better human being than a meat eater. I think this man is self righteous and living in a fairy tale.
Kristin, Houston Texas

Yes, he can do that if he wants and the way animals are reared and slaughtered is - evil to much suffering!!
mrs L mcdougall, us formerly uk

I love animals, they're delicious! I could do without humans that think they're morally superior to the rest of us because they don't eat meat however, they're annoying!
Robert, Toronto, Canada

A ridiculous double standard. If he refused to rent to an ethnic minority or to gays, he'd be in trouble with the law, even though it's his private property. Explain to me, someone, why this is any different?
Guy Hammond, England

It is wonderful that he is pursuing his dream, but I agree that many overlook the obvious discrimination issues. To others, vegetarianism is not an evolutionary step. Humans are omnivores and there is nothing inherently evil about that.
JC, Providence, RI USA

This would never fly in the States, since there is a little problem; it's called "discrimination."
Rob, Newark, Delaware

Okay, what if the reverse was implemented? What if a landlord excluded vegetarians and vegans from renting their property? Does that sound fair to anyone? What's next?
Travis, Columbus, OH, USA

Two words: Who Cares?
Lewis Salem, North Carolina, USA

Good for him! It is a bold step and I hope it works for him. Being a vegetarian, I would jump at the chance to be a tenant.
Lana, Chicago, IL US

What happens when a vegetarian tenant 'lapses' into meat-eating? Do they get thrown out?
Leigh, London

The man has every right to choose his tenants. However, I am a meat eater who lived above a vegetarian restaurant for a year and a half, and never had any complaints. We use energy-saving light bulbs and don't smoke, we looked after the place well and got on with our landlords fine. Perhaps the vegan landlord should be more open-minded about us "carnivores".
Claire Melton, Aberystwyth, Wales

Mr Sosner has the right to choose who he wants in his home. He probably doesn't want blood from a dead animal staining his fridge or the smell of dead flesh being cooked.
TruAsia, Brooklyn, NY

The property in question is privately owned and therefore is legally in the control of the owner. Consequently, legally he can pick and choose who he wants to rent to. Would you force him to rent to drug addicts and alcoholics? I think not. Renting to only vegans is the same premise.
DreAnna Clayton, Savannah, Ga. USA

Good for him and all the people who follow vegetarian and vegan diets. I would jump at the chance to live in a place where people share my personal values and dietary preferences. I hope the 3 % today will become the 97 %tomorrow and dairy and flesh eating becomes a thing of our prehistoric past.
Troy Banther, Portales, NM

If I was a landlord and refused a tenancy to someone who was a vegan, who ate halal or kosher, or I suspected would eat a lot of curry (which is a noticeable scent) would I not be prosecuted?
Jon, expat

What a wonderful idea! It would be great if other landlords with similar views followed suit!
Ani, San Francisco, CA, USA

Generalizing all vegetarians as social able and healthier may not be correct, but Sosner's decision is definitely not discrimination. Vegetarianism, like smoking and unlike race or ethnicity, is a choice. Landlords already screen based on the choices of their potential tenants, so this issue is no different.
Rohit Sharma, Waterloo, Canada

Just so it's perfectly clear, don't everyone start getting bright ideas about this being a good thing. Once you start allowing housing discrimination for being a meat-eater, where does the line stop? I'm not saying it's not done, but if you say that this sort of discrimination is ok, then it opens the door for discrimination due to race, religion, ethnicity, etc. Do we really want that? The world is segregated enough as it is. The last thing we need is to give people more legal reasons to hate each other.
Jack, Minnesota, USA

This would never work in Canada. It is discrimination and is illegal. The same laws apply to pet owners. You cannot exclude pets from your property, you cannot even ask if people own pets before renting to them. This is to prevent people from putting down their pets to get an apartment. Do vegans own pets?
A Different Robert , from Toronto, Canada

Are you allowed to discriminate against people in Great Britain? What if he didn't rent to blacks or Jews or Muslims? Would everyone here be so happy about it? The comments here seem to overlook the obvious.
anthony, ny, ny

This Have Your Say is now closed. Thank you for all your comments.

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