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  • In the Spotlight

    BBC 1 Landlord Programme - Review



    "The Week The Landlords Moved In" is a new BBC series that will follow landlords as they go ‘back to the floor’ in a social experiment which allows them to review their properties, by living as one of their tenants.

    The aim is for this to be a journey that allows landlords to improve their knowledge of the rental market – and their own properties - by experiencing it first-hand. It is also an opportunity for the landlords to explore and reflect on how the rental market is changing in Britain and what challenges come with that – for both landlords and tenants.

    The producers of the programme received short shrift when they advertised on Property Tribes for landlords to take part.

    The first episode aired on Wednesday 21st June at 9.00pm.

    The programme opens stating that over 11 million people are now renting in England and most rent from a private landlord.

    Various short bites of landlords saying that they are in it for the money.

    So landlords are going to live in their tenant's homes.  Shots of a flashy cars arriving outside squalid houses.

    "Will it make them change their properties or how they view their tenants?".

    "Our mantra has been to let it and forget it" says the Peter and Mark - son and father landlord team.

    Peter says he never imagined how his property business would flourish.  He started it as a pension pot.

    Cue to flashy yellow car with Mark saying how much he loves his job.  "It's the best way of becoming wealthy.  Some people are saving up for their first house - I've got 40".

    The pair are seen in a run-down property discussing what they will do to refurb. They invest in East London and Essex commuter belt. "Rents going up all the time has made us wealthy".

    Mark boasts to hiking the rent on one flat by £100 a month above the average in that part of London. “All the other agents fell in line. I was actually responsible for putting up all the rents,”.

    Meet Linda their tenant, who is living in very frugal circumstances.  She has taken on three jobs a week, despite being close to pensionable age, to earn enough to pay the £950 rent on her two-bed flat in Chadwell Heath.

    Linda points out all the faults with her home including the hob which most of the rings do not work.  Her family point out the damp and the mould and show her clothes eaten away with mould.

    Linda's rent is subsidised by housing benefit.  She can only afford to heat one room.  Linda won't complain about her problems to the landlords as she worries she can be thrown out. She has no tenancy agreement.  She lives in fear of being evicted.

    Mark and Peter have not visited Linda's property for 18 months.  Linda is moving out so that Mark and Peter can move in.

    They arrive at the rental and notice the smell of the mould and then start to see it on the ceilings and walls.  They complain about the humidifier unit they had fitted.  The bathroom tap has no hot water. They notice the mould in the bedrooms.

    They seem embarrassed at the state of the flat. They are told to live on £54.00 for the week, which is what Linda lives on after she has paid the rent.

    The programme moves on to Paul Preston of Milton Keynes. He lives in a luxury apartment with his girlfriend who he calls Queen P.  They show off her prestige handbags and shoes and talk about their numerous exotic holidays.

    Paul made his property fortune from renting out HMOs.  He has a team managing his HMO "empire".  This frees up his time to sell expensive property mentoring to others. Que to shots of his Facebook live videos from glamorous locations.

    Paul moves into one of the HMOs which houses 7 tenants.  His current tenant has no idea about the other people in the house, even though she has lived there 18 months.

    The walls in the kitchen are covered in mould and the windows are not secure.

    The outside of the property is in a very sorry state and there is an infestation of rats.  There is footage of rats in the garden.

    She pays £500.00 per month for the room.

    She has never met Paul in 18 months.

    Cut to shots of flashy Mercedes as Paul drives to the property.

    Paul and Queen P think the room is nice. They receive the information that they have to live on £100.00 per week.

    They look in the kitchen and think it needs cleaning. They notice the mould in the porch, but say its like a shed, so the mould doesn't really matter.  Paul says he's open to learning about the property.

    Back in Essex, Peter and Mark go shopping on the budget that their tenant Linda has to stick to.

    They struggle to find anything within budget.

    They return to the flat and say its too cold to take their coats off. They go to bed with their clothes on as they are too cold.

    The programme then cuts to Linda and explains how hard her life is, working three jobs.

    Linda's alarm wakes up the landlords in the flat. They say that the flat is making them feel depressed. They say the property has not been cared for and maintenance jobs have not been reported. They say Linda should have contacted them so that they could repair "the asset".  They suggest it's a lack of respect on Linda's part that the flat has deteriorated.

    Mark goes to an estate agent and finds that the flat could rent for £1200.00 per month if they refurbed it.

    The pair think the location has potential and that they "have done well with this one".

    Back in MK, Paul and his girlfriend eat in the HMO room and think it would be nice to have a small table in the room.

    Back with Peter and Mark, they get a family member to pop round with more clothes as they are so cold.

    They talk about Linda and how she needs help. Peter's wife says the property is not to the standard of their other BTL's. She struggles to understand why Linda didn't report any issues.

    Peter and Mark talk about making the flat better and they don't think its worth it because "Linda won't look after it".

    Peter starts crying - he's been living in a bubble of wealth while his tenant's suffer in poverty.  

    Back in MK, Peter and his girlfriend are waking up to their tenant's life. Pria returns to their luxury flat so Paul can experience HMO life on his own.

    He meets house mate Louis in the kitchen who says the house is not a social space. Louis wants the outside tidied up, the windows repaired, and somewhere to store his bikes.

    Louis mentions the rats living in the garden shed. Paul says that rats are common in urban areas. He says tenants should report problems as he can't be expected to know about them if no one tells him.

    Milton Keynes is popular with landlords due to the high rental demand.

    Paul goes around the town pointing out all his houses. He has over 100 tenants in MK. He goes to his first ever HMO and explains as single occupancy is not as profitable as HMO.

    Paul's tenant is enjoying her stay in a holiday let. She explains how she can only afford to rent a room.

    Paul claims he worked as a cleaner after his recruitment company went down the pan. He started renting out rooms in his 5 bed house and had a light bulb moment.

    Peter and Mark are seen having an inspection done to find out what is causing the mould. The inspector says that the heating has to be turned on to stop the mould.

    They go through Linda's bills and say that she cannot actually afford to live in the flat as she can't afford to turn on the heating. Father and son seem at odds as to whether she should "find a flat that she can afford".

    Linda lives in fear of being evicted and is worried about meeting her landlords.

    She is right to be worried - the voice-over quotes how Section 21 is the biggest reason a tenancy is ended.

    Peter and Mark meet up with Linda and her son Les.

    They tell her they were shocked with the condition of the flat. They ask why Linda didn't contact them. They suggest to her that she cannot really afford to live there.

    She says she needs her AST to go to get housing benefit. The landlords explain the AST has gone "rolling" - I guess meaning periodic?

    Linda doesn't want to move as she would have to go into sheltered housing and there is a long waiting list.

    Linda says her priority is her rent. Her landlords say that Linda has a hard life.

    Linda's family sit round talking about the landlords worrying that Linda is going to get served notice.

    Back in Milton Keynes, Paul prepares to meet Hayley. The first time they have met in 18 months.

    They talk about how horrible the kitchen is and how little she knows of the other housemates.

    Paul says that she should be texted to state about new people moving in. Hayley says this has never happened. Hayley says the house is intimidating and dark at night. She locks herself in her room as she does not feel safe.  

    Paul says he is learning that he should be focussing on his properties as "homes" rather than houses.

    So now it is time for the landlords to leave, so that the tenants can move back in.

    Peter and Mark say they need to inspect their properties more regularly so that they can deal with repair issues.

    Paul returns to his luxury apartment.

    Hayley returns to the HMO and the outside security light has been fixed. The kitchen has been cleaned and the mould has gone. There is a table and TV in the kitchen now.

    The back yard has been cleared and a proper washing line has been provided.

    Hayley reads a letter out from Paul who offers to pay for all the housemates to go out to dinner to get to know one another. He will arrange for a deep clean every month.

    Paul says he wants to create a better environment for his tenants.

    Mark wants to be there when Linda moves back in. The flat has been refurbished - new kitchen, new bathroom, redecorated through out.  The mould issue has been rectified.

    Linda cries when she sees her new home.  Mark says "it had to be done".  They don't want tenants to live like that.  

    Mark admits he's learned a lot and what his responsibilities of a landlord are. He gives Linda a two year fixed rent AST for 2 years.  

    Mark says Linda has to keep the heating on and he will assist with that, subsidising her utility bills if necessary.

    The rest of Linda's family come in and admire the flat.

    Mark says how lucky he is that he has control of his own destiny through property investment.

    Added after the broadcast:

    Episode 2 with Dan and Jamie and Prab Paul

    Episode 3 with Paul Routledge and Samuel Leeds

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    Just found this very old PT thread about Paul Preston aka "the HMO Guy":

    Just met the 'HMO Guy' - Told me how to get property for free. 

    The thread is from 2012 and it seems Paul was a very early exponent of Rent to Rent.

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    Have these LL never heard of Skype or hangouts

    Very easy for s tenant to contact LL and show circumstances during a conversation.

    Far more effective than a text message!

    Good luck to the LL wishing to subsidise the tenants heating bill!

    It states in most tenancies that properties are to he heated sufficiently to prevent mould etc.

    If the tenant can't afford to then they have to go.

    Or what this tenant could have done was take in a lodger which I permit all my tenants to do.

    But of course this tenant wanted to live a two bed champagne lifestyle on a beer money 1 bedroom income.

    Simply not possible..

    Very nice of the LL subsidising the tenant, but clearly NOT a satisfactory business solution to the the problems this tenant has.

    There are solutions but the tenant is not prepared to carry them out, i.e. a lodger.

    If it was me I would have evicted her for failure to manage the tenancy properly and causing detriment to the property.

    Though it was not explained how the mould issue was resolved.

    So perhaps it WASN'T caused by failing to heat the property.

    Obviously all LL should ensure that their properties are fixed so that no mould, damp etc should occur.

    But if it can be proven that not heating the property and failing to ventilate it causes mould then the tenant has a choice, heat and ventilate or vacate.

    Must admit none of my properties are like that and I simply couldn't countenance such mould and degradation in my properties.

    But the standard of the HMO wasn't very good. They have now spent the money on the property so why didn't they do so ages ago!?

    Perhaps I consider the domestic arrangements more than these LL.

    A rotary drier would have been installed immediately, possibly even two of them.

    The bin mess would have been sorted as well.

    The LL have taken their eye off the ball.

    A monthly Skype review from one of the tenants with the LL would be appropriate.

    I'm sure PT LL don't manage their properties this way.

    These LL surely are hopefully not representative of your average HMO LL.

    If so then regulation should be introduced like yesterday!!

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    Sometimes you come across as a bit heartless Paul!!

    Being a landlord entails social responsibility. I think the message was that a small amount of communication solves a lot of problems and maintenance issue fixed quickly saves a lot of money for both parties.

    The flat is her home and £30 a week is a lot just to run a dehumidifier. Most landlords would want to investigate that and in this case they sorted it out eventually. Why the tenant didn't report it straight away is a mystery but it suggests a breakdown in communication..

    I'm not sure it was worth a TV program though.

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    As you can see from my comments there was no heartlessness involved

    I would have been appalled if the two bed flat was mine and was in that condition.

    It seems that not having heating perhaps wasn't the reason for the mould etc.

    So if that had been me it would have been my fault.

    However I would expect the tenant to advise me, but there seems some doubt as to whether the tenant had attempted to contact the LL.

    I had the similar situation with tenants of mine who failed to advise me of problems which will need further expensive rectification.

    As soon as I knew there was an issue I had contractors there fixing things.

    Turned out to be blocked gutters and defective shower installation.

    None of this the tenant's fault.

    But now I will need to have plaster hacked off and repaired etc.

    Tenants not informing LL of problems are a PITA.

    I always respond to tenant concerns.

    I do NOT want my properties degrading.

    But what I wouldn't have done is keep the tenant if I could let for £1200 pcm rather than £950.

    It would be nothing personal, it is just business.

    I'm in the game to make as much money as I can.

    As a little LL I don't have the luxury of being able to subsidise tenant lifestyles.

    Good luck to those LL that can and do, but LL do NOT have to charge less market rent than they could to be socially responsible.

    One can do that for new tenants who pay the new market rent whilst ensuring of course that the property is of a decent standard.

    Private LL have no remit or requirement to offer property at less than the market rent that is achievable.

    It is a business decision to offer s property for less than market rent.

    It makes that LL no more socially responsible than a LL charging full market rent.

    Obviously it is a shame if rents increase in an area.

    But this has happened over hundreds of years.

    The fortunes of areas ebb and flow.

    The rents increase and decrease accordingly.

    Of course any LL that chooses to offer property for less than market rent is to be commended.

    However if IR increased I would be making a loss on my properties.

    So I am simply NOT in a position to subsidise a tenant's lifestyle.

    Market rents are an absolute necessity for me as I am sure is the case with many LL.

    S24 not assisting circumstances either.

    So let's not have the usual claptrap about greedy LL.

    They charge what the market will bear which is what being in business is all about.

    When I've made my millions I would be perfectly content to be a Peabody or Samuel Lweis etc, etc.

    Until that happy day I have to remain viable by charging ever increasing rents.

    If I cannot achieve those increased rents then I will have to sell up.

    So far I have no problem with increasing rents.

    The tenants always seem to be there.

    I experience no lack of demand and pitch my rents accordingly.

    But I would never and have never had properties in the condition shown on this programme.

    Such conditions were appalling.

    So as a socially responsible LL I charge market rents for very decent property as should any LL engaged in the business properly.

    If t seems some tenants choose not to accept economic reality.

    Yes it can be harsh, but then people have been moving to cheaper areas for centuries.

    Why should in this century things be any different.

    Yes it can be tough, but then life ain't easy!

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    My view:

    The programme was only made possible due to poor quality rental properties.

    We have regular inspections done on ours, so any issues are flagged up, even if the tenant does not report them.

    I am glad I did not take part and would not have been a suitable candidate anyway. Some of our rental properties are nicer than the house we live in and I don't have a prestige car to show the disparity between myself and our tenants.

    The landlords were set up for a fall at the beginning. Sound-bites were selected to show their arrogance and view of their own success and importance.

    The fact that both tenant and landlord learned something was positive, but all that could have been prevented by better management and treating tenants as people, not a rent payment.

    It is sad that it takes a TV programme to teach a landlord a lesson. Remember, these were not newbie landlords - they were experienced and wealthy, Paul Preston even selling expensive mentoring and training.

    Quite frankly, they should have known better.

    The programme will foster further anti-landlord hatred as people look at the exaggerated gap between the lifestyle of the landlord and the lifestyle of the tenant - which was highlighted throughout the programme with emotional scenes designed to make viewers feel sorry for the tenant.  Most landlords I know do not wear their wealth or brag about it.

    The programme will claim the moral high ground for teaching greedy landlords a lesson and forcing them to improve their properties.  A public shaming.  If it wasn't televised, we don't know if the landlords involved would have made any changes.  

    One thing I do know - landlords shouldn't learn at the expense of their tenant's health and well-being, which is what happened in this programme.  They should have had a much better idea of conditions at their properties, instead of thinking they can leave them for years with no maintenance or up-grades.  

    How did Paul Preston get new HMO tenants without visiting the properties to facilitate viewings? Surely Paul or someone from his team would have noticed mould and rats when arranging for prospective tenants to view a room that had come vacant?

    I hope a take-away lesson for all landlords is the importance of mid-term property inspections, and encouraging tenants to report maintenance issues - there are various tech products that assist and streamline this process.  If you undertake quarterly inspections, you can nip problems like damp and mould before they escalate, not to mention deal with repair and maintenance issues in a prompt manner.

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    That was roughly as predicted then.

    The landlords were made to look stereotypically flash and arrogant at the start:  Pricey motors, expensive lifestyles etc.  That is not my experience, or that of other landlords that I know.  We tend to drive older, more beaten up cars and hardly ever get to take holidays. Most days you will find me in rough old clothes and a battered 16 year old transit van as I go around maintaining my places.

    I felt that the program did follow the pattern I thought it would with tearful realisations of what bad landlords they had been, followed by putting things right, but one thing that stood out to me was that the rents pretty much reflected the conditions in the first place.(The caveat being that obviously nobody should have to put up with mould)

    ie In the HMO the tenants shown had been there for a long time, so things can't have been that bad?  Also the girl was paying roughly £500pcm.  She saw that what she would like but it was roughly £1500pcm.  As a landlord it isn't financially viable to provide £1500pcm accommodation for £500pcm.  Also the rats may have been put there to make the program more sensational?

    In the flat it was suggested by a letting agent that the flat could be £1200pcm.  Realistically the refurb should have meant that the landlords should have got that, otherwise they are effectively being a charity.  It is fair enough to choose to be charitable - some of us do it - and the 66 year old lady probably deserved a break as she seemed to have a very hard life, but it shouldn't be expected, and certainly not all landlords are in a position to offer this - far, far, less so now with all the tax changes.

    Overall I didn't think the program was too bad and I will watch the next episodes.  I would still hate to be on it!

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    Could the programme lead to calls for rent controls and more regulation for HMOs.

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    Yes - twitter is full of people asking for rent capps, limit on properties a landlord can own, further regulations, etc..

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    Looking for the Best BTL Mortgage? Call the Specialist Team at Bespoke Finance. The above is not financial advice, its me rambling - just passing time on a coffee break.

    Another quote from your Guardian link:

    Peter’s solution? “Maybe it’s time she thought about moving into a smaller property then, maybe a one-bed flat,” he says. Good one, kick her out – exactly what she feared, and why she was frightened of reporting the problems the first time.

    Luckily for Linda, the younger generation has a conscience. Now, it could be that Marc suddenly remembers that this is on the telly and that evicting Linda wouldn’t come across that brilliantly.

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