Birmingham landlord Samuel gets a huge shock when he steps into his tenant's shoes, and in Weston-super-Mare, Paul and Sharon struggle to see how they could be better landlords.
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There is a failure to provide enough housing
for the people of this country.
But landlords haven't made this problem,
they've just got wealthier on the back of it.
Once a nation of homeowners,
there are now over 11 million people renting in Britain.
And most of the rent is being collected by private landlords.
My philosophy is buy low, rent high.
The truth is, we buy property for one reason and one reason only,
and that's to make money.
But many landlords have no idea what it's like
to live in the properties they profit from.
I think the expression "let it and forget it" springs to mind.
When you walk in the house,
first thing you can smell is the mould from this room.
For pensioners to sleep in these kind of conditions,
I think it's just disgusting.
And they can't always rely on the tenants to speak up.
If I kick up that much of a fuss,
it's going to be easy to get new tenants, isn't it?
I can't make it better for you till you say something.
So to experience it for themselves,
these landlords have agreed to swap their home comforts
for a week in their tenants' shoes...
It's very easy, as a landlord, to completely detach yourself from your
property, not even to think about what it would be like to live there.
I'm quite excited. It's like going on holiday.
..to see the properties through their tenants' eyes...
Oh, it smells a bit!
Oh, my goodness! What on earth is this?
We should have been packing for the blasted Arctic.
..and live on their budgets.
Money, money, money.
How are we going to eat on 54 quid?
And once they've lived the realities of renting for themselves...
We feel like we've lived like paupers.
Bit upset, really. I think it makes me feel vulnerable.
..will it make them change their properties
or how they view their tenants?
What's been building up underneath the surface
is knowing that I'm responsible for somebody else's living conditions.
People say that there's a housing crisis at the moment.
Perhaps there is a housing crisis, but as an investor,
that becomes an opportunity, not a problem.
Birmingham-based landlord Samuel is just 25,
and already has a property portfolio worth over £1 million.
Basically, mate, you're going to be
-ready to rent this out, I would imagine, next week.
From my property business,
we earn a profit of between £10,000 and £20,000 per month.
I guess some people would probably say we do live a lavish lifestyle.
We have a lot of time and we drive nice cars.
She has the Audi, I have the Range Rover Evoque.
We do take a lot of holidays.
We were in America, went to San Francisco, Las Vegas...
-We went to LA.
-Oh, it was amazing.
Beverly Hills Hotel, which is where all the celebrities stay.
I guess it's all relative - what is lavish?
Samuel acquired his first property just after his 18th birthday.
The economy was very different back then.
It was all about buying below market value.
He was so young that, to secure the finance,
his early properties had to be bought in his brother's name.
I borrowed £100,000 cash, bought it outright.
When I got a mortgage on it,
I got the mortgage back up to its true value.
It was worth 120, so I made £20,000 overnight.
Money in the bank! Ay!
-Money in the bank!
Samuel has never had a regular nine-to-five job.
-He and his wife, Amanda, live off what they call a passive income.
Passive income is an income that comes in whether you work or not.
I probably spend less than five minutes a month
managing my portfolio.
I don't keep in touch with my tenants,
I don't keep an eye on the property whatsoever.
In fact, most of them, I haven't visited in years.
We are not all made to be rich and successful and make money,
but I believe you are and that is why you are here,
because you are a king, a royal priesthood,
called out of darkness to walk in the wonderful light.
A devout Christian, when Samuel is not spending money,
he's spreading the word that there's no shame in making it.
We teach how to buy properties with no money.
I'm a living, walking, testimony proof of that.
When I started buying properties, as a young Christian,
I got elbowed out of the Church,
because people thought, "Money? Money is... Money is evil!"
If you sell out your integrity, sell out on your values,
then that's a big problem. But if you...
if you let money serve you, then that can be really powerful.
So I set up a Christian business network,
and it's become my mission to educate people in this subject.
If you sign up tonight, it is...
But now Samuel's going on his biggest mission yet.
-Have we got chargers, darling?
-And just everything?
He's going to spend one week in the shoes of his own tenant.
I think what I'm really interested in discovering is,
I know that I'm a good property investor,
but am I also a good landlord? We'll find out.
Though they don't know it yet,
the couple will be spending their week in this three-bed terrace
in a village in County Durham.
-Got to go.
-The current tenant is 44-year-old single mum Marie.
She hasn't always lived in rented accommodation.
When I bought my first property,
I was queen of my own castle. It was mine.
Come on, girls, we've got to go!
I divorced the kids' dad
to go back from being a house owner to a tenant.
It's a stopgap.
After a rent rise priced her out of her previous home,
Marie and her two daughters moved here three years ago.
It was disgusting, it was horrible.
The walls were all covered in...faeces.
Cats', dogs', children's.
This carpet, there was a massive hole in the middle of it,
and maggots were living in it.
It was two beds in the living room.
-Massive, mouldy beds with rubbish and mattresses and chairs.
It wasn't fit to live,
but as far as the estate agents were concerned, it was liveable.
Samuel has set a low rent of £400 a month,
if Marie would manage the property herself.
He also refunded her £1,000 deposit to help cover any work.
The £1,000 paid for the carpet and the skip,
but it didn't pay for any of the little things.
But it's the little things that are really expensive.
In this corner, we have slugs' paradise.
The slugs will come up through the holes in the floor.
You can see in the morning,
because they leave, like, a sticky, snotty trail.
This is a plastic splashback.
It's a gas ring and it's melted.
We have very few door handles.
Big holes in them.
This wall is massively damp.
It's mouldy. And it's all just coming away.
But now there's one problem that can't be ignored any longer.
The roof's got a bit of a leak.
It was hanging off in great big lumps.
I'd been for a bath, and I opened the door,
bit of plaster cracked me right in the head.
Just didn't know what to do.
I don't think I went to the toilet the rest of the day!
-And Samuel knows this?
I don't think he knows the extent of it.
He thinks it's a hole.
And do you tell him?
Probably not to the extent I should have done, no.
-Why is that?
-I don't want him to think that we're ruining his house.
It was agreed between Samuel and myself
that we would deal with this ourselves.
If I kick up that much of a fuss,
it's going to be easy to get new tenants, isn't it?
It's worrying. This house is so nice,
and we actually feel at home in this one.
We've been here for so long now.
If he does come here and realises the potential of this house,
and pumps the rent up, that's going to be a fun one.
-You all right?
This will be the first time Samuel has set foot in the property
since Marie and her daughters moved in three years ago.
I think it's going to be a bit of an eye-opener for him.
I think he's probably going to feel sort of, like, you've been let down.
I feel like I've let him down.
-Because we were doing the maintenance.
Yeah. Decorating, painting and stuff like that, it makes sense,
-but mending a hole in the ceiling?
-Well, you know...
That's a bit beyond light maintenance!
-There's no ceiling.
-It's not your fault, as such.
But that's just it, I do feel like it's my fault.
Look at the state of it. It does get you down, it can't not.
This is my home.
He doesn't know the state this house is in.
-Oh, this is it.
We're going to County Durham!
-That has really surprised me.
It's, like, a proper, decent, good-sized house.
And I've not been to that property for years.
Boom! Right, let's get our things.
For the next week, Marie will move to a holiday cottage nearby
and will meet with Samuel before he leaves.
I think this is actually going to be an absolute bash.
I'm quite excited. I can't wait.
-Are you really excited?
-I am really excited.
It's a bit like going on holiday?
Yeah. Yeah, it's like a little week away, isn't it?
-It is a bit like going on holiday. Yeah.
-It really is.
-It is, a bit.
I hope that she's kept it nice.
Oh, it's warm.
While Marie settles into her new home for the week...
It's beautiful. It's really nice.
I think Samuel might want to swap.
Oh, home, sweet home.
..Samuel's about to get a first taste of his tenants' life.
-Oh, it's so nice.
-Oh, I like this!
-This is really nice.
-Yeah, kitchen's good.
Carpet's OK, as well, isn't it?
It's not bad. It's not bad condition.
Oh, my goodness!
What on earth is this?!
-Look at this!
-It looks like it's falling apart.
-Oh, my goodness!
-That is crazy.
-She's not mentioned this, has she?
How can like the wall just fall off, like...?
That is crazy.
And it looks like it's still coming off.
-There's still bits on the floor.
-I don't like that.
Why is it like it, and why did we not know until now?
Hold the other end like a proper wife.
300 miles away live two more landlords who have agreed
to give up their home comforts for a taste of tenant life.
-I think we're a good team.
-Yeah, we're a good team.
When she puts your stuff away and I can never find it, we just go and buy more.
Former city trader Paul and his wife Sharon have made millions
through renting their properties over the past 30 years.
That's a Macronesian white gin.
Oh, that is absolute amber nectar, that.
We spend about £1,000 a week.
Such a bad thing to say!
Well, it's only 50 grand a year.
-It'll all be...
-Oh, God! "That's only 50 grand a year!"
A lot of people earn 50 grand a year now.
The majority of their rentals
are in the seaside town of Weston-Super-Mare.
How much do you want for that chrome table and chairs?
-Rethink that, and when I come back, let's start negotiations.
Our portfolio consists of 85% to 90% benefit tenants.
No other landlords are taking them.
If we get sent a decent one, then why wouldn't I take them?
The Council pays.
And Paul and Sharon have done very well out of their business model.
Our portfolio is probably worth in excess of 10 million.
We own 44 flats on the seafront.
We bought in Weston because it was cheap.
So we own the back half of St Margaret's Terrace.
And we also own all the flats in Beach Court Apartments,
which runs all the way down there.
With over 100 tenants,
Paul and Sharon have heard every excuse in the book
when it comes to not paying the rent.
Had one that's gotten mugged at the cash point.
You would be astonished at the amount of tenants
who had their bank raided by a mystery person.
Oh, have you? Of course you have, yeah, of course you have.
You don't want to be this person that just doesn't believe anybody.
But I don't.
-Not any more. I used to.
I don't think I could be a better landlord.
I think my tenants think I could be a better landlord,
cos I think my tenants think
that I should come round and change their bulbs.
I do the maintenance,
and I keep my properties legal, warm and a nice place to live.
So I don't see how I could be a better landlord.
Paul and Sharon are swapping their four-bedroom home on the beach front
for this two-bedroom flat in the centre of Weston-Super-Mare
to step into the shoes of tenants Chris and Courtney.
They moved into this two-bed flat
just after their baby son, George, was born.
The flat we were in before was very small.
Everything was in one room. So when George came along,
we definitely needed somewhere bigger.
Paul and Sharon have, like, bent over backwards to help us,
but the only problem in here is the storage.
When we first moved in, George was only a few weeks old.
We didn't have time to unpack everything.
That's why everything's starting to build up.
George takes up all the wardrobe space,
so it makes our clothes go everywhere else.
We haven't asked for more storage
because I don't want to come across as I'm nagging Paul and Sharon.
You know, they have the power to evict people.
I can't risk it with George,
and a lot of landlords won't take housing benefit.
When they moved in, Chris and Courtney
were given two new mattresses, but the old ones are still there.
This one was in George's room, just left up against the wall.
And this, it was the one that was on our bed.
Asked for this one to be removed and...still here.
Hello! How you doing?
The rent is £650 per month,
which includes eight hours of heating a day,
set and controlled by the landlords.
We have no control over the heating.
It's controlled in another area of the building.
Can't just say, "Oh, it's cold, turn it up."
It's meant to come on two, three times a day,
but it just hasn't been coming on recently.
I've had to put three, maybe four blankets on George,
as well as a jumper, because he just gets so cold.
Give me your hand.
Time for a bottle?
Went round to speak to Sharon about how cold the flat is,
she said she'd send her maintenance team around,
but, as far as I know, that hasn't happened yet.
Sometimes it feels like the heating's not even on.
What else do we pay?
Before they leave, Chris and Courtney work out their weekly budget.
-Just on food and electrics, £70.
We're hoping that Sharon and Paul will see how difficult it is
to get by on such a small budget
and how little storage there is for everything.
How cold it can get here as well.
-I'm hoping they're going to get somebody to take mattresses away!
-That'd be nice.
-I think they'll struggle on £70 a week.
-They're going to have to use some heaters.
-Yeah, that's true.
Courtney texts Paul and Sharon
to let them know where they'll be staying for the next week.
That's Courtney and Chris.
They're both unemployed. She's obviously a mum now.
Neither have got a job, if I remember rightly.
They're both definitely... They're on Housing Benefit.
Shall I text back? "No, not for us."
Paul and Sharon will be staying here in Chris and Courtney's flat
for seven days.
Do you think you packed enough?
No. Because there's hardly anything here.
This is all her beauty stuff!
# Welcome home! #
Now I bring the rest in.
Why is there mattresses everywhere?
I don't know. I don't know.
Maybe, are there people staying?
Maybe to get the cot in?
Welcome, Paul and Sharon, we hope you enjoy your stay in our home.
We have left you some space in the wardrobe, too.
Paul and Sharon have been given Chris and Courtney's weekly budget.
20, 40, 60, 70.
£70 for food and electricity.
Well, it's doable.
Is it how you like to live?
Absolutely not. I'd go and get a job.
-I think we should move this mattress.
-I think so.
Just put it in situ.
-There's not going to be anybody in here.
Where I'm going to put my stuff, I don't know,
there's so much of their stuff in here.
They do seem to be, for some reason, short of storage.
No bedside tables. We've got loads of bedside tables.
So this is through lack of asking if they wanted it.
I mean, my daughter stores most of her clothes on her floor.
-Do you think tenants
might be scared to ask for more things?
-Not us. We're very approachable.
-Not us, yeah.
We just live out the suitcases, I think.
How does this compare to where you keep your clothes?
She's laughing because there's 109 shirts in a cupboard,
all colour co-ordinated and set out, ready for me to wear.
But that's how I like to live my life.
I like shirts and I like cupboards.
It's not just with storage that Paul has high standards.
I thought that was humidity on the windows,
but actually it's just muck.
I don't wish to look like Hyacinth Bucket,
but if you're unemployed, you really could get some cleaning done.
Just put this on top of that.
See what it looks like.
Once you are in the benefits system,
it starts to make people lose a bit of spirit.
A lot of them feel that they can't get anywhere.
You know, I've only got £70 a week.
Well, if I was only doing £70 a week,
I'd be up at all hours cleaning this up.
My house wouldn't say I've got £70 a week.
It'd be mint, absolutely mint.
Courtney and George are settling into
the serviced apartment they are calling home for the week
-and waiting for Chris...
-..to get back from work.
Hey! Hey, you!
Daddy's got cold hands.
Chris has recently returned to work, against doctor's advice,
after two years signed off for a back injury.
Have you been making the home your own? Yes?
It's been quite a difficult time being signed off of work,
not bringing any money home.
Couldn't wait to get back to work.
-What do you think?
-Wasn't expecting this.
But this is lovely.
-I'm playing with the heating.
-Cos you have control of it?
Yeah. I've been, like, pressing the buttons!
It was very important for me to go back to work.
The money that I was getting from benefits, I just felt I didn't earn.
-Right, see what you think.
-Got to test the comfort.
-Test it out.
-Yeah, I've just come home from work.
This is it!
See you tomorrow morning!
-In Durham, Samuel and Amanda
are adjusting to life on their tenant Marie's budget.
-Yes, I know, right to the penny.
At home, the couple prefer to eat out or live on takeaways.
If we've only got £62,
it means that we're not going to really be able to order food in
and get takeaways, because our money will run out very quickly,
so we're probably going to have to go out, get food, cook it.
Do you want to add up some of this stuff as we go?
Oh, man! Do I have to?
Wait, wait, we're not finished yet in this aisle.
This shopping experience
has probably taken more concentration than usual.
I mean, usually we just order online and it gets delivered.
Now we're, like, looking out for the best deals
just to maximise the amount of money that we've got.
Could have curry one night and then sweet and sour another night.
Why don't we get rich tea biscuits?
50p. Come on, you can't moan at that!
And then some Rocky bars.
That's all right, isn't it?
And that will be, like, our bad stuff for the week.
We could possibly do with some puddings.
Quavers. Yeah, Quavers, we love Quavers.
They have just £62 to last the entire week.
So we literally have got now less than £15 left in the world.
It's just crazy, isn't it, how fast £62 can run out?
-Welcome to the real world!
Toilet roll. Chicken for tomorrow.
-Two days, that will last us for.
In Weston-Super-Mare, Paul and Sharon have also been shopping.
I would never be satisfied with simply what's in front of me here.
I think it's a really easy option, staying on benefits.
It's about what you're happy with.
After putting £12 aside for their electric meter,
they have allowed themselves a food budget for the week of £58.
What would you spend £58 on normally?
Like many of their generation,
Sharon and Paul got on the property ladder early.
I've never rented a property.
I didn't leave home until I was 22.
I bought my own house, my first house.
Had lodgers in it.
I managed to get a 99% mortgage.
But then, the property was only £32,000.
Unlike Paul and Sharon,
it's predicted at least a third of Chris and Courtney's generation
will still be renting when they're 60.
Are you kicking your legs about again, George?
The way things are at the moment, saving's just not an option.
Any money that we get coming in,
it literally pays for us just to keep living.
There's no way we can save up for a life at the moment.
I haven't looked into buying a home yet.
It just looks like such a...
..hard thing to be able to do.
Demand for rental properties in Weston-Super-Mare is high,
pushing up rental prices and making it
one of the most profitable seaside towns for landlords in the UK.
I think there's so much of it. Look! I've eaten like a king tonight!
That's another meal there.
That was the cheapest spaghetti ever.
It was, like, 30p or something for that whole pack.
Quite nice, isn't it?
I don't think it will be harder than we thought,
because we always thought it was going to be hard.
I was once told that the first three days in a prison
is the hardest three days and then once you fall into the routine,
the rest of it just falls in.
Have you found it cold?
-We are boiling up. We've got windows open.
-But we don't sleep with the radiator on at home anyway.
It might be something to do with being old, wrinkly and fat.
Look at this! What on earth?!
That looks like dog scratches.
That must be dog scratches.
But then, how big's this dog?
In Durham, Samuel's noticing
the hole in the roof isn't the only problem.
Interesting that the door handles aren't on.
There just seems to be a lot of little things peeling and falling.
I bought this house almost five years ago and it did look nicer.
Despite the property increasing in value,
Samuel only makes £25 profit a month from Marie's rent.
One of the reasons she got such a cheap rent was because there were things that needed doing.
Now, the hallway's a different story, that's a massive thing.
But when it comes to things that aren't necessities but just a bit shabby,
the kind of arrangement was that she'd sort that out.
What's this stuff, babe, do you know?
What? What is it?
Slugs! Slug slime!
-Oh, that is so gross.
-No, it isn't.
-Yeah, it is.
Oh, my goodness, that is...
Oh, it's disgusting. I wish I didn't see that.
-Right on the hob as well.
-Oh, no! When did that happen?
It must have happened overnight, cos it wasn't there last night.
I'm going to the living room.
Oh, that's so gross.
That's kind of put me off my food a bit.
If I had that problem reoccurring, I would sort it.
Yeah. That is not cool.
Babe, seven days will be enough here!
# Our God is a great big God... #
Devout Christians Samuel and Amanda have escaped to the local church
to find out more about the area they invested in.
# ..And he holds us in his hands... #
The town where Marie lives
was once the lifeblood of the British steel industry.
When the local plant shut down in 1980,
3,000 people lost their jobs, before house prices slumped.
How long are you living in the area?
I'm in County Durham for one week.
-I mean, I bought the house without even looking at it.
-Oh, did you?
-I bought it blind, because it was a good price.
-My friend told me about it and said it's a good price.
I bought it. Renting it out, I've only ever seen it once before.
-So I don't know the area at all.
It's actually come up-market, believe it or not.
-Might find that strange.
-Because... Because when the steelworks closed,
it was about 35% unemployment in the area.
Right. That's quite high.
So, is the tenant working?
No. It's a mum and two daughters that live there,
and she pays via housing benefits.
I think, to be a landlord, as a Christian, might be very difficult,
because if someone hasn't paid the rent, after a while,
you might have to evict them and that must be very hard.
When you're faced, you know, with that situation,
I think they must have a social conscience.
I think when she first moved in, she had a job,
but then she got a bit sick, she moved...
She asked me if it was OK if she moved to benefits.
I said, "Look, you know, as long as you pay your rent on time, it's fine."
So she went on benefits.
But a few months ago, her benefits stopped
and she said that she'd be able to get it sorted,
but it's just been dragging on.
We haven't had rent for that property,
I think it's...been at least three, I think it's been four months.
-I can't believe that.
-Yeah, it has. Yeah, it has.
When do you think, though, it'll get to the point where you're just like, "Hmm"?
Or do you think you're just going to be patient with it
-and just wait until...?
I think... I think if it's not sorted by the end of this month,
then I'll start having some firm words.
Marie was a paying tenant, working as a theatre nurse,
until an injury forced her to retrain.
I fell and damaged my back, which resulted in a few surgeries,
which meant stooping over patients became very difficult
and I just really struggled.
She's now studying full-time to be a social worker,
and is dependent on student finance and housing benefit.
But four months ago,
we got a letter through the door stopping my housing benefit,
as I was being reassessed.
So I can't pay the rent.
Over the last five years,
there has been a steady increase in the number of households
facing homelessness due to problems with a housing benefit claim.
It's going to take the Council as long as it's going to take them.
And I think that's what's more scary,
because I don't have any control over it.
-I'll bring it in.
In Weston-Super-Mare, Sharon and Paul
want to get to the bottom of why Chris and Courtney
said they were cold in their welcome note.
There's never been an issue, for anybody that's ever rented here.
The tenants here pay £10 a week for central heating,
but the boiler is locked away
and only Sharon and Paul can set the timings.
When this young couple came to us, they had nothing.
They had no furniture, they had nothing.
Um, you know, I believe they were living in the YMCA
and they had absolutely nothing.
No deposit, no nothing.
So we took them in, yeah?
And, in a way, we gave them the opportunity
to live within what they were getting from the benefit system.
We've got two working people in the other flats, OK,
so they don't moan, they're quite happy. Everybody is happy.
I think... Yeah. So, when people come and view these flats,
when you turn round and say that eight hours of heating
-is included and the...
-Continuous hot water.
The continuous hot water, yeah.
5.30 this morning, I did the washing-up.
-They absolutely love it, you know?
Doesn't seem to have a bleed nipple on this one.
-Not quite sure why.
-But it doesn't matter
how many hours of heating you have if the radiators don't work.
So I just heard it click on there. Just heard the water start to go.
-You can hear it pumping round, dripping and what have you.
It's getting hot at the bottom and not at the top.
There's not a hole in there, is there?
-Did you check that?
-No. A hole in there?!
It would be pouring out all over the place!
No, I meant is there like a little leak, a leak...?
If there was a leak in that, sweetie, we'd all be covered in water.
So it's not causing a problem with the flow.
Just check the pressure is sitting at about 1.6.
I'm going to go around the radiators and let the air out of them.
I can hear massive air coming out of that.
It's getting warm right through now.
People need to stop thinking we're hoteliers,
and they need to start thinking, "This is my home
"and, actually, I could bleed a radiator."
Now, in this instance, it would be difficult
because they couldn't repressurise the boiler.
We don't want them to bleed the radiators, we want them to tell us.
Oh! Ah! Ooh! That's very hot.
But not every tenant finds it easy
to report a problem to their landlord.
I don't think that you could approach Paul and Sharon
-if you had a problem.
If I ever did try to approach Sharon with a complaint,
I'd be worried that she would tell me off for something.
I've got no problems going to people,
telling them there is something wrong,
but I suppose there is the worry that, complaining too much,
if they decide to take it the wrong way one day,
-they could ask you to move on.
Like the majority of people renting in Britain,
Chris and Courtney are on an assured shorthold tenancy.
After the fixed term of six months ends,
they can be legally evicted for no reason.
In Durham, Samuel is facing the consequences
of not being told about a problem before it's too late.
Why is it there, why has Marie not told me about it or anybody about it?
Yeah, so... Also, how much is it going to potentially cost to fix?
-Hey, how's it going?
I'm Samuel. Come on through.
To get a quote, Samuel has called out a builder.
See up there, there's grass in the gutter.
-That grass in the gutter, the water is coming down the roof,
and it's saturating the grass.
You need to clean that gutter out, water seal the whole wall,
and then do the plastering inside, it will stop it from leaking.
What do you think the cost would be?
About 700 quid, that would see that finished.
Sure. And then inside, plus £150, maybe, for a day.
Yeah, so... £220.
-You're talking about £900 for the whole thing?
Do you reckon if, when we first saw it,
if it was just a little bit bad,
would it still cost the same to fix it?
No, because you just would have took that grass out,
it would have alleviated all the bother.
That's really annoying.
-I've got your card, so I'll give you a call.
-OK, no bother.
Not great news. For the whole thing, it will take four days
and he can do it for 900 quid. Even if we are getting our full rent,
we are making less than £100 a month.
And we're not getting any rent, so it's costing us...
-..almost £400 a month, and now there's this.
If we don't get some rent in before we have to pay this out,
I'm not going to... I'm going to be furious.
We need rent...now.
Look at the books? Or newspapers, I haven't seen the newspaper today.
In Weston-Super-Mare, Paul and Sharon
are determined not to spend any of their precious budget.
-Health and wellbeing.
-Cooking On A Budget.
-Here's some nice papers.
-Let's have a little read, then.
Have a look at that one.
Lot 207, planning permission for ten dwellings.
In there, good tenants, nice income.
Always on the lookout for a property bargain,
the couple first bought in Weston-Super-Mare in 1999.
We knew that Weston was pretty much on its knees,
but so were a lot of other seaside towns,
such as Hastings, such as Margate.
We kind of decided Weston was the place to be
because there were bound to start regenerating it soon.
The others have been regenerated,
Weston is still sitting there on its knees.
We were going to do the properties up to a really good standard.
We put telephone boxes in them, put launderettes in them,
pictures on the walls.
We made them absolutely lovely.
They smashed the machines up, they stole the pictures.
-And the phone box.
-And the phone box.
Our business model became more to the DSS line.
We had to go bare minimal.
We catered to the needs of the mentality of our clientele, basically.
-It is what it is. We are not going to walk away...
Landlords like Paul and Sharon who rent to benefit tenants
have received over £9 billion from the public purse since 2015.
-Got two millionaire's desserts.
-Or not so millionaires!
Not so millionaire this week, that's for sure.
This week, however, they have limited themselves
-to their tenants' budget of £70.
-And I'm still 20 quid up.
And we are all mealed up till the day we go.
It's very important to stick to our budget,
and hopefully have some left over.
-It's a challenge to us.
-Next time a tenant says to me,
"I've only got 70 quid to live on,"
I can turn around and say, "Well, I had 70 quid to live on and I had 20 quid at the end."
My life outside of here is 100 times more stressful than living...
This is glorious!
This is like a bad camping holiday.
-Up your bum.
-No, no, no...
-When Paul and Sharon
meet their tenants Chris and Courtney tomorrow,
it will be the first time they have all met each other face-to-face.
I think when we see Paul and Sharon it's going to be general questions
of how they have found it, sort of, living on our budget.
They might say they didn't find it too difficult,
mainly because they haven't had to do it for very long.
Looking forward to see how they got on with the heating as well.
-It's a double wrap.
-We have said about it before,
so is there any chance, now you've lived it, that maybe it will change?
OK. Let's go.
Never met Chris and Courtney,
so everything I learn about them today I will learn about them today.
But what hasn't happened is
they haven't reported that the radiators need bleeding,
maybe we will need to educate them.
Today may be a bit awkward at times,
as if we are having a sit-down with our parents.
How did you find living in our flat for the past few days?
I love the flat, it's so tall and airy.
-Well, yeah, because I put the windows open,
-so it's going to be airy.
-I found that it was...
There was a lot of disarray in your flat, for me,
with lots of clothes everywhere and everything else.
I didn't quite understand that.
You've seen how we are struggling for storage.
We've not only just moved ourselves in, we are moving in a new baby.
On your note, you said you were cold.
The problem is that the radiator needed bleeding.
I put a radiator key in it, and the radiator started working.
But you guys don't say you're cold.
Well, we have been a couple of times
and said that it mainly is during the day. Obviously,
-Courtney is home all day...
-I'm home all day.
The gas obviously costs money. Yeah?
If you had the capabilities
to be able to have the boiler on full steam ahead, yeah,
the price would increase from £10 a week to £40 a week.
Would you be able to afford £40 a week?
Because it is the health of a young child more than anything,
it would be something that would have to be afforded.
Where would you get that out of your 70 quid?
May have involved borrowing money and things.
You couldn't think it was a great idea
to borrow money to heat the flat.
You came to us because that was an inclusive price
and that's what you could afford.
What you have to do is cut your cloth to suit your coin,
and the way you do that is by putting jumpers on,
making sure the radiator works.
The biggest issue here is that you have not said anything.
I've come in a couple of times, may not have been written down, but...
That's what you need to say.
"I'm coming in to make a maintenance report.
"Please can you sort it?"
I don't really leave the house a lot, do I?
Courtney finds it very difficult to approach people.
OK. You're fine, sweetie.
You're fine. There's nothing to be scared of here.
-Big breath. Don't be frightened.
-You're all right.
We have said countless times, and it's not done.
I'm finding it very difficult to talk over him.
I don't want to be made out to be a liar.
If anything, we are the ones that should have the issue.
And it feels like we are just being attacked.
Don't worry, you're fine.
There's nothing to be scared of.
Courtney finds it a bit difficult to approach people with...
-That's fine, seriously.
-..any problems that we have...
Seriously, if you have a communication problem, write it down, then.
When we first moved in, you had a member of staff round
to do the inventory of what's there, what's not there, what's broken, what's not broken.
-What are those mattresses?!
-The mattresses were there when we moved in.
Have you asked for it to be removed?
We have been in and asked for it to be removed.
You haven't asked me, then.
I can only apologise 100% for that, because that is not...
-It was on your inventory as well, was it?
-It was, it was written down.
I can only say this is disgusting.
I pride myself on keeping my tenants happy, as you know.
If it's not happening, then you have every right
to turn round and say, "Come on, guys."
The thing that is a little bit more difficult
now that I am, very recently, gone back to work, driving,
I don't have the free time to come into the office and speak to you myself.
You're going back to driving now?
I needed to.
I've always worked, so to be signed off work was very difficult for me.
I had a back injury a number of years ago.
I had to have a disc removed from my spine,
it was a very painful operation and a very long recovery process.
Well, back pain is so debilitating.
-It is terrible.
-It is just so debilitating.
I mean, I get it as well, it's like...
I didn't realise that Chris is getting back into work,
which is absolutely fantastic.
That's what our society should be today.
We should be on benefits for when you need it
and then, as soon as you can possibly work again,
you should be out there, getting to work.
And I didn't realise Courtney was quite as shy as she is.
She may well have had difficulties
in trying to get her issues across to us,
but unfortunately, our crystal ball broke.
It was difficult at times to get a word in edgeways, but...
they can see that we've been struggling
for temperature and things like that.
I think the worst thing for us is if the problems don't resolve,
if they are still there further on down the line.
Thank you, darling.
In Durham, Samuel and Amanda
are trying to stick to their tenants' weekly budget.
These are like the sausages you used to get, you know at school?
You know when we got here and we saw her budget,
and it was like, £62.78, and we said, what's with the pence?
And now, we are desperate for a few more pence!
I know, it'd make all the difference!
We have got £2 left of our budget for the week.
I have lost £1.
-You have lost £1?
-I have lost one of the pounds, sorry.
He has lost one of the pounds!
I can't believe how fast the money has gone.
And we feel like we have lived like paupers.
-Surely most people don't only have £62 a week.
-How do you...
-It's weird, because...
-How do you just live a normal life?
What does Maria do? £62 a week was apparently her budget -
not for food, it was her budget.
What about the other things that we might have to spend on?
Like a repair on the house,
or just general stuff that you have to pay for, like parking?
And she has got two kids to look after as well, on that.
I don't know. I do wonder how people live.
I don't understand why the bin keeps sticking.
Sticking, what do you mean?
-Like it won't open.
-Oh, it's because I keep putting my feet on it while I'm on the toilet.
Why would you do that?
Who does that?
The bin broke.
I broke it. And we haven't got
the money to fix it, which would be about £10,
-because we're on the budget that Marie is on.
Maybe there might be some things in the house that she would do,
because there are some small things, aren't there,
that we would probably do, if it was our house?
-But the reason she doesn't is because she can't afford it.
The budget he's had to live on, that's only for six days.
Can he even begin to imagine
what the struggle would be to live on that 52 weeks of the year?
Within that, there's birthdays,
school holidays, there's... there's life.
At the moment, Marie's oldest daughter works as a care assistant
and is the only person in the household bringing in a wage.
I give my mum money on a weekly basis.
Sometimes, if it's like... It could be 20 quid, it could be more.
It's just to help around.
Like, if she needs it for gas, electricity.
Food. Anything, really.
Is he thinking, "Doesn't matter, I've got my bank card anyway"?
There's no guarantees he's actually stuck 100% to our budget.
We have run out of our budget.
We have just been feeling hungry and tired and a little bit fed up,
so we did go over our budget slightly.
We have been a little bit naughty.
And we got the Just Eat app,
ordered a little bit of Chinese food.
So...feel a little bit defeated, really.
I feel bad, but just was too...
-I don't know. What do you think, Amanda?
We really wanted to stick to the budget as well,
-It's just so hard.
And just so much cooking.
Every time you want to eat, you have to cook and stuff.
Really tough. Ain't nobody got time for that!
Ain't nobody got time for that!
After meeting Chris and Courtney,
Sharon wants to get to the bottom of the complaints.
I was put in a very embarrassing situation yesterday,
to find out that they had these problems
and they hadn't been rectified.
I want to find out what happened.
Is everything they said accurate,
or is there something that is not quite right?
And she has asked her office manager to show her the maintenance reports.
Kitchen window, cracked inside.
-We got that repaired, didn't we?
-Oh, yes. That was done.
OK, hold on a second, it does say plus mattress, hallway.
That might be my way of writing things.
-What's all that, then?
-That was me, noting it for me.
OK, because what worries me
is I think our maintenance system has slipped a bit,
and we need to work on that system somehow.
I think this one has got to be the most rarest exception,
because of the fact of the baby, and we moved them so quickly.
Normally, as you say, the flat is pristine before anyone goes into it.
Never once has anything been brought to my attention,
"We are not happy about this."
They did say to me yesterday that they kind of had mentioned it.
I just find it very strange.
No, I'm a bit confused. Anyway, doesn't matter.
For us, it shouldn't happen.
-That's not what you and I pride ourselves on.
Every now and again, communication breaks down.
This seems to be one of those times, sadly.
It is hard being a landlord.
It has made me more cynical towards people.
A lot of that is because I have been tricked
by so many tenants that I try and help. I don't trust people,
which is a bit of a sad thing, really.
But that's what it has made me, unfortunately.
Before Samuel meets his tenant, Marie,
he wants to find out how the rent he is charging
compares to other properties in the area.
She's only paying 400, and she's not even paying that,
because benefits are paying it,
and sometimes, not even benefits are paying it,
so I think I am being very, very gracious on her.
So, how many beds is yours?
Three double bedrooms.
And an office. And a dining room and a lounge.
You will be surprised when you find out how much rent I'm getting.
-It's not much.
-Is it not?
-Yeah, I know. It's bad.
You could potentially get more to the 550 mark.
-550. That would be quite achievable.
Apparently, that road is very, very popular.
I would need to change the doors, there are a couple of things
I'd need to do to make it look a bit more modern.
But I could definitely get a lot more rent for it.
That house is in the best location I could have chosen to be.
It's not far from uni, it's not far from your school,
it's not far from Freya's work.
We have got friends on the street.
We have got everything on the doorstep that we need.
We have moved quite a lot.
Nowhere has ever really felt like home.
But here, it does. It does feel home, it feels like
probably where I'm going to grow old.
Thank you, see you later. Bye.
I'm worried that he's going to make us homeless.
And it is a massive worry that
he is going to go away and make our lives more difficult.
I still don't know why the benefits stopped.
I didn't know about the hallway, I didn't know about lots of things.
So we need to have a sit-down and a chat.
It's been very interesting, living in the house for the week.
But, yeah, there are some things that...
um, aren't great.
-Did it shock you?
-The hallway shocked me.
I was just like, "Oh, my gosh!"
Like, what on earth? How has that happened?
So, I guess the thing I'm a little bit surprised at
is you've not sort of mentioned it to me since it's escalated.
-I don't know whether I even ever heard about it.
-I told you.
-Did you tell me?
-And I sent photographs.
-Did you now? OK.
Maybe when you messaged me, maybe I was on holiday...
You were, you were getting ready
to go to wherever it was you went before California.
Africa, then I was in California, then I was in Thailand.
I probably just passed it on and forgot about it.
I'd imagined you would be jumping up and down,
sending me a picture every week, "Hey, don't forget!"
I don't want to come across as a naggy tenant
who thinks you've got nothing better to do
-than deal with what's going on in my house.
I appreciate you not wanting to be a naggy tenant,
but you really, really should've told me.
It's a big problem. It's something that, you know,
definitely needs to get sorted.
This really bothers me, you know.
-I know this is going to cost a lot of money for you.
I can't afford for you to put the rent up, I really can't.
Yeah. No, I'm aware of that. I mean, we have lived on your budget.
I love our house. It's our home.
I've said that from day one.
If you put the rent up, we will have to move, and...
..I can't. I can't afford to move.
I can't afford to cope with
the stress on top of that with university, and...
-Yeah. I understand.
-I hope so, I really do hope so.
-Yeah, I understand.
-Because it's our home.
And regardless of the ceiling or anything, we love it.
If we are going to be out on our ear, then...
we are going to struggle.
So, why did your benefits stop?
They reassess it. They call so many people in every year to reassess it.
Now they have gone back to university to get confirmation
from them that I'm studying and I'm still at university.
-So, it will get sorted?
I don't doubt for one minute that it will not get sorted.
-It just happens that this year,
I'm one of the ones that they've pulled in to reassess.
Because, yeah, it's been a while. Obviously, we need to sort it.
Samuel must now decide what he wants to do, before Marie returns home.
It's good to have seen him again,
but it's not alleviated any of my fears.
If anything, I have come out of there now
thinking I need to go and find somewhere else to live.
At the end of the day, what we have got to remember is,
this property business is not a charity.
Just by getting a new tenant,
we are going to be increasing our profit by 700%.
However, she is a good tenant, we like her, we know her, we trust her.
-We could get rid of Marie,
and then have someone who is a bad tenant that trashes it.
It's a hard one. From a business point of view,
everyone is saying, and the estate agents,
it seems that the smart thing to do
is get rid of her and get somebody else.
And if she has chosen to study and live in this size house...
..you have to pay for it.
I didn't make the rules up. That's life.
Giving me a headache just thinking about it.
After living in their tenants' homes,
it's time for the landlords to leave.
Before they go, they write their tenants a note.
What do you fancy for dinner tonight?
I think I fancy something like salmon.
Salmon and hollandaise sauce.
Back to our beautiful own bed.
I know. Back to no cold bedroom in the night.
It's going to be nice.
Are you two packed upstairs?
We are 100% worried about being kicked out.
I do hope that's not the case.
He did say he would take everything into consideration,
he knows how much money we have, he's seen our budget.
Hopefully, it doesn't happen.
# We are going home. #
What do you think it's going to be like, then?
Hopefully, all sorted.
Where's the dog?
Oh, it's good to be home!
-Home at last.
-Yeah. There we go.
There's a note.
They have left us a note.
Dear Marie, thank you for letting us stay in your home for the last week.
I am now fully aware that the hallway
is going to cost a lot of money to repair.
This week has taught us that
a direct personal relationship might not work for every tenant.
We have set up a new system
where any maintenance problems can be reported online.
Please use it.
I am in the process of instructing workmen
to get their scaffolding out and put everything right
and then replaster the hallway.
Having spent some time in your flat, we feel that you need more storage.
We have found a few items of furniture
which will enable you to declutter the flat.
We have also removed the mattresses.
I am now fully aware this is a problem with the house
and nothing to do with you.
I would like to give full assurance that your rent
will not increase for another two years.
This should hopefully give you enough time
to finish university and get a job.
I didn't expect that, to be honest, you know that?
This means so much more than anything he could have done.
Just to come home and know that it's still our home.
For the next two years, at least.
We are safe.
We could have evicted Marie.
But after spending a week in the house,
I do think there's times when certainly, you can...
you can not charge as much rent as you possibly could,
just to maybe reward your tenant because they are a long-term tenant.
-What's that for?
-To stop the slugs getting in.
It does feel warmer in this front room.
This was always the coldest room.
Now we have done this,
I could go in and say to Sharon, something is wrong.
It's a lot easier to talk to them now we have been through this.
-And got to know them a bit better.
-There's another wardrobe.
-We've got more space.
-Oh, look, we've got side tables as well.
Chris, he's certainly earned my respect.
He's gone back to work, which I think is fabulous.
With a bad back like he's got,
a lot of people would drag that out. Well, he hasn't.
-I think it's cleaner now than when we left it.
I would like to see Chris and Courtney get their own little house.
I always think children are much better with a little garden.
I think they will manage it.
I think they will move on and move up.
They are certainly not sitters on their laurels.
It's very easy, as a landlord, to completely detach yourself
from your property, and not even to think about
what it will be like to live there.
Got a splashback.
Every six months, I'm going to have a survey go out to all my tenants,
just asking them, are you happy with the house, are there any problems?
Because it might be that I've got other properties
where there's tenants in there
and there's big issues, but they're scared to say.
This thing that we all want to just throw them out on the street,
it's just nonsense. What we want is longevity of tenancy.
The way you get longevity of anything,
be it tenants or relationships, yeah,
is to make an effort with one another and compromise.
It's strange, being home again.
-It is nice. I've missed it.
Just being able to understand tenants better,
I'll actually be a better landlord.
This is the third episode in a transformative series which challenges some of Britain's most successful landlords to spend an eye-opening week living in one of their own rentals, on their tenant's budget and experiencing life through their eyes.
Birmingham landlord Samuel gets a huge shock when he steps into his tenant's shoes, and 300 miles away in Weston-super-Mare, Paul and Sharon struggle to see how they could be better landlords.