Purplebricks remove listing after homophobic owners refuse to sell property to gay men

A gay couple were shocked to find that they could not purchase their dream property in Surrey because the owners of house deemed that homosexuality is “against God’s word”.

The vendors, a devoutly Christian couple, refused to sell their £650,000 home to Luke Whitehouse and his partner Lachlan Mantell because of their sexuality.

When the potential buyers attempted to arrange a viewing through Purplebricks, their request was denied and they were sent shocking references to fire and brimstone Bible passages by the couple.

The vendors, builder Luke Main, 33, and his wife, Cambridge University medical physicist Dr Joanna Brunker, 34, refused to allow Whitehouse and his partner to even view the house, let alone buy it, because they were gay.

The homophobic pair cited passages from the Bible and said they could not sell the house to “two men in a partnership”,

Whitehouse, 34, told the press: “Initially, for the first 10 seconds, I laughed. I thought it was a joke.

“But then I was upset and angry and I had a cry on the phone to my mum.

“Homophobia still exists, it is still out there. I did not see it coming. I was blindsided by it.”

The vendors had requested some more information about the prospective purchasers’ “position and circumstances”.

Mantell willingly responded telling them: “I’m a 37-year-old TV producer for ITV and Luke is a 33-year-old business owner in education,” before adding that they liked the area and were in search of their first home.

But they were left stunned when the religious couple replied saying: “We’re sorry if we seem intrusive, but we just want to make clear that we would be unwilling for two men in a partnership to view or buy our house.

“As it is contrary to the gracious teaching in God’s Word, the Holy Bible, e.g. Romans 1:24-28 and Jude 7 (King James Version).”

The first passage cited describes homosexuality as a “sinful desire” and a “shameful act” while the second that those engaged in such acts should be “suffering the vengeance of eternal fire”.

Following a compliant from the gay couple, Purplebricks has removed the listing.

The online estate agency issued the following statement on social media: “Purplebricks is proud to celebrate diversity – it’s ingrained in our culture and values. When this happened, we responded immediately and we hope Lachlan and Luke find their dream home really soon.”

 

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28 Comments

  1. Countrybumpkin

    Quite shocking. I wonder whether PB have to refund. I hope not. PB did the right thing. Homophobia or any prejudice should not exist in our society irrespective of one’s own beliefs.

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    1. AcornsRNuts

      PB did refund the homeowners. Currently you have four down arrows from homophobic contributors. If they are agents, I do hope they make their views known to gay potential clients before working for them.

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      1. PeeBee

        “Currently you have four down arrows from homophobic contributors.”

        You can’t know that.  The ‘thumbs down’ could be in response to any part of Countrybumpkin’s post.  Maybe the bit where it says “PB did the right thing.”

        Contributor ‘Diogenes’ below has three on the board for saying ‘well done purplebricks’ – and I’ve scored two for reasons best known to whoever dealt them.

        People are strange animals.

        I have to confess at having a wry smile at Cb’s comment “Homophobia or any prejudice should not exist in our society irrespective of one’s own beliefs.”  Isn’t that an oxymoron?  Surely if people have “beliefs”, then whatever they have belief in, exists. 

        Whether “acceptable” or not – beliefs are there to be had.  whether or not forcing those beliefs underground where they can smoulder and cause untold hidden damage is a good thing or not is for other, more clever people than me to argue.

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        1. AcornsRNuts

          So those contributers did not believe that PB did the right thing? Still sounds homophobic to me. Alternatively perhaps you believe that they should not have refunded the fee paid by the god-botherers? I am not a big fan of PB but they have, by refunding any monies paid, washed their hands of the homophobic vendors and should be praised for that.

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          1. PeeBee

            AcornsRNuts

            “So those contributers did not believe that PB did the right thing? Still sounds homophobic to me.”

            No – just ‘Purplephobic’. BIG difference.

            “Alternatively perhaps you believe that they should not have refunded the fee paid by the god-botherers?”

            If you read my comment below you would see that is exactly my belief – but not for the reasons you imply.  Sacking off these people was absolutely the right thing to do – but giving them their money back was simply a knee-jerk reaction trying to deflect potential bad publicity.

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            1. AcornsRNuts

              Usually I respect your opinions, but your anti-PB feelings are showing through. By refunding any monies they are, like any respectable agent would, ensuring that they are severing all ties with their former clients. Had they not done so, their former clients next five minutes of fame would have been complaining that they hadn’t been refunded.

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              1. Bosky

                but your anti-PB feelings are showing through

                have you thought about doing stand-up comedy!

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                1. AcornsRNuts

                  Such an insightful comment, bosky. Did it take you long to think up? Go have a lie down. your brain is starting to smoke.

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              2. PeeBee

                “but your anti-PB feelings are showing through.”

                You really think so?

                Trust me – if I let my “anti-PB feelings” loose on this one, NASA would be able to see the mushroom cloud from the JWST without turning the magnification on…

                “By refunding any monies they are, like any respectable agent would, ensuring that they are severing all ties with their former clients.”

                if a building company had built a big wall around a house for the occupants who then turned the property into a den of debauchery or a drugs factory, should that builder refund any monies received, thus “ensuring that they are severing all ties with their former clients”?

                As I have said below, they could have donated it to a charity nominated by the prospective buyers.

                I’m sure the charity wouldn’t have refused the money.

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                1. AcornsRNuts

                  Now you are being silly. Go and have a lie down, a sip of cocoa and hopefully normal service will be restored next week!

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                  1. PeeBee

                    I’m sorry – but I don’t agree that I’m “being silly” in the slightest.

                    PB supplied a “service”, for which they make a charge.  That is fact – whether I agree with the “service” they supply and payment obligation or not.

                    The customer abused the service.  That is fact.

                    Purplebricks were not obliged to refund the monies for the above reasons – but that would be subject to legal scrutiny of all facts and documentation (which no doubt they would not welcome considering the amount of sticky brown stuff currently clogging their electrically operated bladed ventilation device – therefore they rolled over on it)

                    I would much rather not be arguing the point.  And I vertainly won’t be sipping on cocoa – or anything else tonight!

                    As I said in my first comment on the subject this morning, some might think there are thousands of homeowners who should have a valid claim for their monies to be returned.

                    But I would suggest that these two wouldn’t be on any sensible person’s list of recipients.

                    Just goes to show that life ain’t fair in love, war – and the world of online estate agency.

                    Have a good weekend, AcornsRNuts.

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                    1. AcornsRNuts

                      I still think you are being silly. Had they kept their fee, I suspect your take would be that they should have refunded it. No cocoa, no, coffee, no tea? You will be dehydrated. I am currently sipping white wine, to be followed by some good quaility whisky later. Enjoy your weekend and I look forward to agreeing with you next week. I hope.

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  2. Diogenes

    In phrases I never expected to type: well done purblebricks

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  3. EAMD172

    Everyone is entitled to their beliefs and opinions. However as a Christian in this business there is also this in the bible: Romans 13:1-2 says: “Obey the government, for God is the One who has put it there. … So those who refuse to obey the law of the land are refusing to obey God, and punishment will follow.” This is where balance and knowledge are important. We don’t have to agree with the laws but we should follow them. This also means now that legally PB have to refund them so that’s what they must do. The bible is an incredibly complicated set of books and I certainly don’t know it thoroughly but try to make sure we carry out our business according to its rules. Ultimately if I disagree so strongly about something then I can choose to close the business or leave the country. We should not judge others because that makes us as bad as the person we are judging if they truly are bad.God is the judge and the only one who is in a position to judge. The rest of us are all imperfect one way or another in his eyes. Much easier to do unto others as you would have done unto yourself. Oh – isn’t that now called Karma, or ‘what goes around comes around’ Amazing how many modern sayings are based on biblical words.

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    1. sharran8513

      I can’t work out your position on the article from your comment but no, it isn’t “now called” karma – the first mention of karma and its concept was 1500 BC and is present in many religions, so way before Christianity even existed.

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      1. scruffy

        Highly educational.

        Hitherto I had been confused……I thought it was a curry named after that well known hymn sung by Boy George and Culture Club.

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  4. Robert_May

    Good call Purplebricks!

     

    the only option available to those vendors is to find a passive intermediary FSBO firm to list their home; no estate agent can list it.  Propertymark or the redress schemes providers will explain why every one of their members has to refuse the instruction until the vendors accept the laws that now govern our industry and society

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  5. Bosky

    Just list it with GEA (God Estate Agents), but I understand the expectation is to pay 10% of the sale price.

     

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  6. Russell121

    Problems like this exist because religious beliefs are put on a level plain as the law. I can only guess at why they would want to make their views public to the applicants and not found another way if they felt that strongly. Great publicity for purplebricks, although I think any agent worth their salt would have sniffed out a couple of oddballs before listing.

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  7. PeeBee

    Hmmm…
     
    There are, some may think, many, many thousands of homeowners that, in a fair world, would be entitled to a refund of the “Product Service Fee” they paid to Purplebricks.
     
    But, in my opinion, this ain’t one of those cases.
     
    No doubt they spent a fair bit of time wondering whether the copious Ts’n’Cs of their ‘Money Back Guarantee’ gave them a green flag to keep the dosh in their tommy (credit: Hillofwad71) but couldn’t quite get one to fit – so chucked the money back to avoid another wave of adverse publicity. 
     
    An “Unreasonable Behaviour” clause should have been present and correct, I would suggest – but of course their current issues with things not being right and proper in terms of written word stand as pretty damning evidence that this is a company that do not have a Scooby as to how to go about the business they operate.
     
    I’ll diary it to check back in a year or so (assuming they still exist) and see if they have corrected that glaring omission. 
     
    I’ll not hold my breath or put a single penny on it having happened, though…

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  8. midsagent197772

    Peebee, you’re way off here, quite surprising really. I’m no massive fan of pb but they’re absolutely spot on here. Refund the money rather than become embroiled in accusations of ‘happy to take money from homophobes’. They can’t win in some people’s eyes.

    When I was there I personally had a similar situation where my vendor wouldn’t let anyone with an Asian name view their property. We did the same thing, disinstructed, gave them their money back and walked away. I didn’t get paid for it either, but much better that than take money from racists.

    As for the comment that being prejudiced against someone’s beliefs is an oxymoron, fortunately we live in a society where most of us know what’s right and what’s wrong, homophobia being one of them, and so most of us couldn’t care less if we’re being prejudiced against these sorts of beliefs. Do you feel the same about people who think racism is fine or that women don’t deserve equality?

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    1. PeeBee

      Thanks for the response, midsagent197772.  And I see where you are coming from.  Hey – maybe you are right… but I see things differently.

      ” I’m no massive fan of pb but they’re absolutely spot on here. Refund the money rather than become embroiled in accusations of ‘happy to take money from homophobes’.”

      There are few that can claim to be less of a fan of the company than me – but I cannot accept your logic on this.

      On that basis – if someone goes into a Lambo dealership, buys a slinky black number and calls in at the Nag’s Head to show his mates… and having celebrated the purchase with a few bevvies is involved in a fatal accident with an unfortunate pedestrian on the way home from the pub, are you saying the garage should refund the purchase cost so as not to get embroiled in accusations of ‘happy to take money from a drunken killer’?

      These customers were not (as far as I can see or anyone is suggesting) misled, misthandled or other mis-anything else by the Agent.  They had signed up to a service on Purplebricks’ infamous “pay regardless” basis. and Purplebricks were, it seems, providing said service.

      The homeowners then crossed a very etched-in-stone line – not just a toe – all four of their feet.  In hob-nail boots.  Those people broke the Law – and in a completely open and blatant way.

      And in a perverse way, Purplebricks were party to it – as they facilitated the act.

      By disregarding one of the primary purposes of an Agent – being the ‘go-between in a transaction – the owner and potential viewer were allowed to sort out all the details of the appointment themselves.  If it was a ‘traditional’ Agent, then either the questions wouldn’t have been asked and the appointment would have gone ahead (in which case it would have been a sell-out event to be a fly on the wall to see the owners’ faces when when the two gents tipped up at the front door…) or the owners would have asked those questions via the agent – who would have assumedly dealt with the situation in an appropriate manner when the vendors refused the viewing.

      Every Agency I have worked for have had a ‘Discrimination’ clause in their Agency Agreement.  I can see no such clause in the Purplebricks “Service Agreement” which is their online Ts&Cs – nor is a clear policy set out in their “Terms Of Use”, although there is this buried in the melee of words:

      “…if you… breach these Terms, we may take appropriate action. This could mean we issue you with a warning, that we stop you from using the Systems (without refund or part credit of any fees paid)…” 

      and their Service Agreement (Cancellations, refunds and complaints) states

      “If you materially breach your obligations under either this Agreement or the Terms of Use; or if you require us to take any step which may put us in breach of our legal or professional obligations then we may cancel this Agreement on giving you 14 days’ notice (unless we are required to cancel it sooner, in order to comply with our legal or professional obligations).”

      In my unqualified opinion, the above terms are very disconnected from one another.  I doubt they could be argued as reasonable grounds for withdrawing the service and not refunding – so Purplebricks have missed yet another trick with regards to their paperwork… which unless anyone has been asleep since October will  know to be their achilles heel.

      Business terms have to be ‘bold, precise and compelling’ – just like statements had to be as per PMA1991.  Flaky terms are no terms at all.  If ‘bricks ducks had all been in a row then they would not have needed to refund as the other party would have been the one to break the Agreement.

      If they hadn’t wanted to be seen as profiting** from keeping the fee, then they could have donated it to a charity of the prospective buyers’ choice – thereby potentially scoring a brownie point or two.

      But at the end of the day, they should have been perfectly entitled to keep the money.  WOULD have been, but for those pesky ducks scattered around all over the place.

      **Hardly likely seeing as they don’t make a penny profit from it in any event… (insert ‘rolling eyes’ emoji here)

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  9. Countrybumpkin

    I am shocked at many of these comments. I really hope the LGBT community that exists in estate agency are not reading some of these comments.

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  10. AcornsRNuts

    Well said.

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  11. PeeBee

    Acorns… for some reason this will not let me reply directly to your above post.
     
    “I still think you are being silly.”
     
    As is your right to freedom of thought – and supposed freedom of speech.  The ‘speech’ bit (or in this instance whatever platform bricks use to connect parties) however has a habit of causing more issues than thought ever will – and this article is prima facie evidence to that fact.
     
    “Had they kept their fee, I suspect your take would be that they should have refunded it.”
     
    Actually, you couldn’t be further from the truth.  I have said exactly what I think – and I am certainly not ‘just saying it’ for sh*ts’n’giggles.
     
    Next you’ll be saying “well, you would say that – wouldn’t you”
     
    No – I wouldn’t.  Unless it was 100% true.  But of course you only have my word on that – so I’ll leave you to make your own mind up whether you can believe me.
     
    I know – and to be quite frank, that’s all I give a fuppenny about.
     
    Regards
     
    PB

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  12. midsagent197772

    Peebee, I can’t seem to reply to comments and so having to start a new one.

    Anyway, just to say, I don’t really understand why you’re trying to prove a point about up front fees, terms etc here and the example you gave about a lambo is completely different, and you know it. Ultimately pb did the right thing, anyone can see that.

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    1. PeeBee

      “Right thing” to dump the clients? – absolutely.
       
      “Right thing” to refund them? – I respectfully disagree.
       
      And the ‘Lambo’ thing isn’t that different, if you think about it.

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  13. John Murray

    I saw a post today about a Christian couple refusing to sell their home to a same-sex male couple.Just puting it out there regarding my personal biases as an estate agent, and fellow human being.My son Jacob is a gay man, and last year we had the most wonderful day towards the end of last year when he married the love of his life – Connor.My only daughter Lydia is in love with a black man, whom we love unconditionally.My eldest son Jamie is in love with a lovey heterosexual girl called Emily.I think as a family we have most bases covered here.Two of my children work at NHS111 helping people.My eldest is a musician, as is his girlfriend, and they bring musical joy and life to people on a daily basis.Oh…and by the way, I too am a Christian.Just an inclusive one I suppose!

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