A FATHER-OF-11 who owns a crocodile and a snake says he is unable to find a home to rent because of his tattoos.

Gareth Holliday, 44, has been looking for houses and flats through a council’s approved estate agents for months. Now he is pleading with the agents "not to judge a book by its cover".

He said he has been trying his hardest to get a place before Christmas but is losing hope.

His eight-year marriage ended earlier this year and he wants a home so he is "able to see his babies”.

He said he has put in many enquiries to estate agents, but often finds that a day before his viewing he gets told the landlord has gone with another tenant.

Mr Holliday, who has been couch surfing for months, said he is starting to think his appearance and his pets are preventing him from finding a place to rent, despite being a “chilled out, easy-going guy”.

He owns a 4ft African dwarf caiman crocodile called Missy, who he has a licence for, as well as an 11ft snake, but he said both are "self-contained" and should not be a deterrent to landlords.

Adur and Worthing Councils said “physical appearance” was not in their criteria for applications for housing. They have been in contact with Mr Holliday and previously put him up in the Wardley Hotel in Hove.

The Argus: Gareth and his new partner's child, SennenGareth and his new partner's child, Sennen

Mr Holliday, a recovering drug addict who has been clean for three years, said he left the hotel on the advice of his doctor as it was not suitable for him due to "other people there causing him distress through their habits". He also said he was only provided with a microwave for cooking, which was not ideal for his type one diabetes.

The former crime scene cleaner, who is currently unemployed, said: “I love my tattoos, I wouldn’t have had it done if I didn’t. 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. 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.”

The Argus: Mr Holliday says he has tried 20 to 30 different estate agentsMr Holliday says he has tried 20 to 30 different estate agents

Mr Holliday put in a homelessness application due to the breakdown of his marriage but the council rejected it as he was not under the threat of “domestic violence or abuse”. While Mr Holliday could stay at the marital home in Worthing legally, he says it is not an option for him. His pets are still at that house.

He said: “I would like something where my little ones would be able to stay for a weekend. 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?”

A spokeswoman for Adur and Worthing Councils said: “All applications for housing to the council are assessed against government criteria. Physical appearance is not one of these.

“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.”

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