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The man with a PLAN for portfolio landlords

I am the Chair of PLAN - the Portfolio Landlords Action Group - which had its formal launch this week. People ask me how did I come to form the Group. To understand you need to know how I came to be in Property. 

About seven years ago  I saw an opportunity to build high yield long term portfolios in the North West of England. At that time this market was very overlooked. 

I did not see myself as a buy to let investor and did not use buy to let finance; I saw myself as someone forming a property investment company whose objective was to build a long term portfolio providing homes for tenants. 


Things went well and I thought I could develop the model. But I rejected the traditional routes for expanding namely buy to let finance or lots of small Investors who buy properties with you. 

Instead I got the backing of a very small group of investors (including a family office) who have invested £10m to date. And if I say so myself we created very successful portfolios which currently comprise nearly 500 properties valued at £25m and with an income of £2.5m per year

Going forward our goal is to find further investors of this type and develop a network of such portfolios. Each investor has direct ownership of their portfolio but benefits by being part of a much larger network with economies of scale.

What was great operating in this way was I did not need to sell myself to anyone or have a social media or website presence. That worked for me because I am not natural networker and certainly not someone who has any history of forming or even joining groups. 

So you might ask what on earth caused me to form a group like PLAN? The answer is this.

Being relatively new to this business I was surprised by the picture painted in the media of evil landlords who force tenants to live in properties not fit for human habitation and who do not respond to their needs. 

I am sure out of two million landlords there will be some who fit that image but it did not feel right that everyone was painted with this same brush. This certainly did not reflect my experience or aims as a landlord. In fact in my view for anyone operating a larger portfolio it makes no commercial sense to operate in this way. 

What also surprised me like so many other landlords is why it appears the government has the same view of private landlords. Even though as a Conservative government you would expect them to be supportive of this industry and want to help it to develop.

So I started to look at what the reasons for this were and I came to the conclusion that the main reason was this - nobody in government or opposition has a positive plan for the private rental sector. 

But what they are conscious of is that there are now a lot of people renting and very vocal pressure groups saying what a terrible experience this is. So they are simply creating policy in response to specific criticisms of the current system. The problem with that is this means there is no direction. 

What is actually needed is a complete rethink of the PRS - a new plan that government can support and the structures and incentives that will make it work. That is how all successful reforms of the market have always worked in the past. And in this way they will also make the rental experience better for tenants so it will be a win-win for everyone

When I looked around I could not see anyone working to create such a plan apart from those groups whose aims seem to be abolish private landlords. So in the end, I decided it would have to be me.

I also believe that for many of us there are not enough opportunities to see how other successful landlords work and to network to share information and knowledge about the best tech and systems that can be used when operating a portfolio of properties. So a second goal of PLAN is to fill that gap so we can learn from each other and from the best experts we can find in this industry. 

We now have about 35 members who in total own about 6,000 properties, so having gained some traction decided it was time for a formal launch. That launch took place at the offices of Hamilton Fraser who have a number of well known businesses in this market. 

Physical attendance was limited but we had a  number of people  joined us online. The audience was made up of portfolio landlords some of whom are the biggest players in the market; there were some very interesting speakers. 

However for me the most important part of the launch was the discussion about the need for an organisation like PLAN and I was very heartened by the support offered and the enthusiasm displayed for what we want to achieve. 

We will be making a recording of the launch available on our website www.landlordportfolio.co.uk. So if you are a portfolio landlord and interested in joining us then please email me at info@landlordportfolio.co.uk and we will be in touch about how to join.

*Marcus Selmon is chair of the Portfolio Landlords Action Group

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