Gareth Holliday, 44, has been trying to rent an apartment for months. For the dad of 11, he needs a place through a council’s approved estate agents to be able to see his kids. His marriage of eight years has ended this year, leaving him couch surfing and unable to host his little ones for a weekend. 
Despite his efforts, he often learns that a potential landlord has picked another tenant, sometimes the day before his viewing. He has started to believe that his pets and appearance are preventing him from finding a home, despite being a “chilled out, easy-going guy”.
“I feel like I’m being discriminated because of my tattoos”
Holliday owns an 11-foot snake and a licensed four-foot African dwarf caiman crocodile named Missy. However, he said they are both “self-contained” and should not pose an issue for landlords. He also has tattoos covering most of his face. However, Adur and Worthing Councils stated that “physical appearance” was not included in their criteria for housing applications. Additionally, they had previously put up Holliday in a hotel. Keep in mind, Holliday is a recovering drug addict who has been clean for three years. He had to leave the hotel under his doctor’s advice who said it was not good for him because of the “other people there causing him distress through their habits”. Plus, in his hotel room, he only had a microwave to prepare meals, which is not ideal for managing his type one diabetes.
He had previously worked as a crime scene cleaner but is currently unemployed. And his tattoos may be part of that reason. “I love my tattoos, I wouldn’t have had it done if I didn’t,” he said. “But I do feel I’m being discriminated because of them.
“They don’t know me. I have been through a lot of cr*p but since being with my new partner, Claire, for the last two months, it has changed my way of living, it’s just the housing that is driving me mad. I want somewhere I can call home, not have to worry about where I’m going to sleep next.”
He added, “I have a nice collection of friends where I’m lucky enough to be able to ask ‘can I sleep at yours tonight?’ but all I want is to be at mine. I have done the crazy wild stuff, all I want to do is chill and enjoy life now.”
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Unable to Go Home
“All applications for housing to the council are assessed against government criteria. Physical appearance is not one of these,” said a spokeswoman from the council. “We cannot comment on private sector housing offered outside of the councils’ accommodation. Mr. Holliday can contact the council at any time if he wishes to access the housing support we are able to offer and provide.” 
Despite not having a home, Holiday’s homelessness application was declined by the council because he was not at risk of “domestic violence or abuse.” Meanwhile, his pets are staying at his marital home. While Holliday is legally allowed to stay there as well, he said it’s not an option.
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Don’t Judge a Book By its Cover
“I would like something where my little ones would be able to stay for a weekend,” Holliday said. “I don’t want anything spectacular, even a one-bedroom and I would sleep in the front room. Two bedrooms would be perfect really to be able to see my babies. I have done everything they have asked me to do, it’s never-ending, it’s constant.
“I have tried 20, maybe 30 different estate agents and get told nothing is available, or if I go and view, I’m on a waiting list or they have to go speak to the landlord. Then when I have been booked in for a viewing, the day before they will tell me someone has already taken it. Someone’s put a holding deposit down, so how can I be booked in to view it?”
Therefore, he pleads with his agents and landlords not to judge a book by its cover.
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