Episode 3 The Week the Landlords Moved In


Episode 3

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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Transcript


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There is a failure to provide enough housing

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for the people of this country.

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But landlords haven't made this problem,

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they've just got wealthier on the back of it.

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Once a nation of homeowners,

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there are now over 11 million people renting in Britain.

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And most of the rent is being collected by private landlords.

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My philosophy is buy low, rent high.

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The truth is, we buy property for one reason and one reason only,

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and that's to make money.

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But many landlords have no idea what it's like

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to live in the properties they profit from.

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I think the expression "let it and forget it" springs to mind.

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When you walk in the house,

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first thing you can smell is the mould from this room.

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For pensioners to sleep in these kind of conditions,

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I think it's just disgusting.

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And they can't always rely on the tenants to speak up.

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If I kick up that much of a fuss,

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it's going to be easy to get new tenants, isn't it?

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I can't make it better for you till you say something.

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So to experience it for themselves,

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these landlords have agreed to swap their home comforts

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for a week in their tenants' shoes...

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It's very easy, as a landlord, to completely detach yourself from your

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property, not even to think about what it would be like to live there.

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I'm quite excited. It's like going on holiday.

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Oh, goodness.

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..to see the properties through their tenants' eyes...

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Oh, it smells a bit!

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Oh, my goodness! What on earth is this?

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We should have been packing for the blasted Arctic.

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..and live on their budgets.

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Money, money, money.

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How are we going to eat on 54 quid?

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And once they've lived the realities of renting for themselves...

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We feel like we've lived like paupers.

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Bit upset, really. I think it makes me feel vulnerable.

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..will it make them change their properties

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or how they view their tenants?

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What's been building up underneath the surface

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is knowing that I'm responsible for somebody else's living conditions.

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People say that there's a housing crisis at the moment.

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Perhaps there is a housing crisis, but as an investor,

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that becomes an opportunity, not a problem.

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Birmingham-based landlord Samuel is just 25,

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and already has a property portfolio worth over £1 million.

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Basically, mate, you're going to be

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-ready to rent this out, I would imagine, next week.

-Yeah.

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From my property business,

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we earn a profit of between £10,000 and £20,000 per month.

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I guess some people would probably say we do live a lavish lifestyle.

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We have a lot of time and we drive nice cars.

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She has the Audi, I have the Range Rover Evoque.

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We do take a lot of holidays.

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We were in America, went to San Francisco, Las Vegas...

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-We went to LA.

-Oh, it was amazing.

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Beverly Hills Hotel, which is where all the celebrities stay.

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I guess it's all relative - what is lavish?

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Samuel acquired his first property just after his 18th birthday.

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The economy was very different back then.

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It was all about buying below market value.

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He was so young that, to secure the finance,

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his early properties had to be bought in his brother's name.

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I borrowed £100,000 cash, bought it outright.

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When I got a mortgage on it,

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I got the mortgage back up to its true value.

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It was worth 120, so I made £20,000 overnight.

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Money in the bank! Ay!

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-Money in the bank!

-Ay!

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Samuel has never had a regular nine-to-five job.

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-Boom!

-He and his wife, Amanda, live off what they call a passive income.

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Passive income is an income that comes in whether you work or not.

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Oh!

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I probably spend less than five minutes a month

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managing my portfolio.

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I don't keep in touch with my tenants,

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I don't keep an eye on the property whatsoever.

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In fact, most of them, I haven't visited in years.

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We are not all made to be rich and successful and make money,

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but I believe you are and that is why you are here,

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because you are a king, a royal priesthood,

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called out of darkness to walk in the wonderful light.

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A devout Christian, when Samuel is not spending money,

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he's spreading the word that there's no shame in making it.

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We teach how to buy properties with no money.

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I'm a living, walking, testimony proof of that.

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When I started buying properties, as a young Christian,

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I got elbowed out of the Church,

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because people thought, "Money? Money is... Money is evil!"

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If you sell out your integrity, sell out on your values,

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then that's a big problem. But if you...

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if you let money serve you, then that can be really powerful.

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So I set up a Christian business network,

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and it's become my mission to educate people in this subject.

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If you sign up tonight, it is...

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-£95!

-SOME WHOOPING

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Good?

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But now Samuel's going on his biggest mission yet.

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-Have we got chargers, darling?

-Yes.

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-And just everything?

-SHE LAUGHS

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He's going to spend one week in the shoes of his own tenant.

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I think what I'm really interested in discovering is,

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I know that I'm a good property investor,

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but am I also a good landlord? We'll find out.

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Though they don't know it yet,

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the couple will be spending their week in this three-bed terrace

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in a village in County Durham.

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-Got to go.

-The current tenant is 44-year-old single mum Marie.

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She hasn't always lived in rented accommodation.

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When I bought my first property,

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I was queen of my own castle. It was mine.

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Come on, girls, we've got to go!

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I divorced the kids' dad

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to go back from being a house owner to a tenant.

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It's a stopgap.

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After a rent rise priced her out of her previous home,

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Marie and her two daughters moved here three years ago.

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It was disgusting, it was horrible.

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The walls were all covered in...faeces.

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Cats', dogs', children's.

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This carpet, there was a massive hole in the middle of it,

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and maggots were living in it.

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It was two beds in the living room.

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-Yeah.

-Massive, mouldy beds with rubbish and mattresses and chairs.

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It wasn't fit to live,

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but as far as the estate agents were concerned, it was liveable.

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Samuel has set a low rent of £400 a month,

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if Marie would manage the property herself.

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He also refunded her £1,000 deposit to help cover any work.

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The £1,000 paid for the carpet and the skip,

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but it didn't pay for any of the little things.

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But it's the little things that are really expensive.

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In this corner, we have slugs' paradise.

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The slugs will come up through the holes in the floor.

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You can see in the morning,

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because they leave, like, a sticky, snotty trail.

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This is a plastic splashback.

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It's a gas ring and it's melted.

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We have very few door handles.

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Big holes in them.

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They're broken.

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This wall is massively damp.

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It's mouldy. And it's all just coming away.

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But now there's one problem that can't be ignored any longer.

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The roof's got a bit of a leak.

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It was hanging off in great big lumps.

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I'd been for a bath, and I opened the door,

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bit of plaster cracked me right in the head.

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Just didn't know what to do.

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I don't think I went to the toilet the rest of the day!

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-INTERVIEWER:

-And Samuel knows this?

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I don't think he knows the extent of it.

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He thinks it's a hole.

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And do you tell him?

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Probably not to the extent I should have done, no.

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-Why is that?

-I don't want him to think that we're ruining his house.

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It was agreed between Samuel and myself

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that we would deal with this ourselves.

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If I kick up that much of a fuss,

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it's going to be easy to get new tenants, isn't it?

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It's worrying. This house is so nice,

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and we actually feel at home in this one.

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We've been here for so long now.

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If he does come here and realises the potential of this house,

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and pumps the rent up, that's going to be a fun one.

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-You all right?

-Yeah. Hi.

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This will be the first time Samuel has set foot in the property

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since Marie and her daughters moved in three years ago.

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I think it's going to be a bit of an eye-opener for him.

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I think he's probably going to feel sort of, like, you've been let down.

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I feel like I've let him down.

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-Why?

-Because we were doing the maintenance.

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Yeah. Decorating, painting and stuff like that, it makes sense,

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-but mending a hole in the ceiling?

-Well, you know...

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That's a bit beyond light maintenance!

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-There's no ceiling.

-It's not your fault, as such.

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But that's just it, I do feel like it's my fault.

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Look at the state of it. It does get you down, it can't not.

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This is my home.

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He doesn't know the state this house is in.

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-PHONE PINGS

-Oh, this is it.

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Oh!

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We're going to County Durham!

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-No way!

-That has really surprised me.

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It's, like, a proper, decent, good-sized house.

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And I've not been to that property for years.

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Boom! Right, let's get our things.

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For the next week, Marie will move to a holiday cottage nearby

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and will meet with Samuel before he leaves.

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I think this is actually going to be an absolute bash.

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I'm quite excited. I can't wait.

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-Are you really excited?

-I am really excited.

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It's a bit like going on holiday?

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Yeah. Yeah, it's like a little week away, isn't it?

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-It is a bit like going on holiday. Yeah.

-It really is.

-It is, a bit.

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I hope that she's kept it nice.

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Oh, it's warm.

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While Marie settles into her new home for the week...

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It's beautiful. It's really nice.

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I think Samuel might want to swap.

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Oh, home, sweet home.

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..Samuel's about to get a first taste of his tenants' life.

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-Oh, it's so nice.

-Oh, I like this!

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-This is really nice.

-Oh!

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-Nice.

-Yeah, kitchen's good.

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-Yeah.

-It's OK.

-Yeah.

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Carpet's OK, as well, isn't it?

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It's not bad. It's not bad condition.

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Oh, my goodness!

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What on earth is this?!

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-What's up?

-Look at this!

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Oh, goodness!

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-What?!

-It looks like it's falling apart.

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-Oh, my goodness!

-That is crazy.

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-She's not mentioned this, has she?

-No, no.

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How can like the wall just fall off, like...?

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That is crazy.

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And it looks like it's still coming off.

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-Yeah, yeah.

-There's still bits on the floor.

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-Yeah.

-I don't like that.

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Why is it like it, and why did we not know until now?

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Hold the other end like a proper wife.

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300 miles away live two more landlords who have agreed

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to give up their home comforts for a taste of tenant life.

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-I think we're a good team.

-Yeah, we're a good team.

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When she puts your stuff away and I can never find it, we just go and buy more.

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Former city trader Paul and his wife Sharon have made millions

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through renting their properties over the past 30 years.

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That's a Macronesian white gin.

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Oh, that is absolute amber nectar, that.

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We spend about £1,000 a week.

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Such a bad thing to say!

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Well, it's only 50 grand a year.

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-It'll all be...

-Oh, God! "That's only 50 grand a year!"

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A lot of people earn 50 grand a year now.

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Don't they?

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The majority of their rentals

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are in the seaside town of Weston-Super-Mare.

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How much do you want for that chrome table and chairs?

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-£25.

-Rethink that, and when I come back, let's start negotiations.

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Our portfolio consists of 85% to 90% benefit tenants.

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No other landlords are taking them.

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If we get sent a decent one, then why wouldn't I take them?

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The Council pays.

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And Paul and Sharon have done very well out of their business model.

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Our portfolio is probably worth in excess of 10 million.

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We own 44 flats on the seafront.

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We bought in Weston because it was cheap.

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So we own the back half of St Margaret's Terrace.

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And we also own all the flats in Beach Court Apartments,

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which runs all the way down there.

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With over 100 tenants,

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Paul and Sharon have heard every excuse in the book

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when it comes to not paying the rent.

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Had one that's gotten mugged at the cash point.

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You would be astonished at the amount of tenants

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who had their bank raided by a mystery person.

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Oh, have you? Of course you have, yeah, of course you have.

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You don't want to be this person that just doesn't believe anybody.

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But I don't.

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-Do you?

-Not any more. I used to.

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I don't think I could be a better landlord.

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I think my tenants think I could be a better landlord,

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cos I think my tenants think

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that I should come round and change their bulbs.

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I do the maintenance,

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and I keep my properties legal, warm and a nice place to live.

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So I don't see how I could be a better landlord.

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Paul and Sharon are swapping their four-bedroom home on the beach front

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for this two-bedroom flat in the centre of Weston-Super-Mare

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to step into the shoes of tenants Chris and Courtney.

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They moved into this two-bed flat

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just after their baby son, George, was born.

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The flat we were in before was very small.

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Everything was in one room. So when George came along,

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we definitely needed somewhere bigger.

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Paul and Sharon have, like, bent over backwards to help us,

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but the only problem in here is the storage.

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When we first moved in, George was only a few weeks old.

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We didn't have time to unpack everything.

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That's why everything's starting to build up.

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George takes up all the wardrobe space,

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so it makes our clothes go everywhere else.

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We haven't asked for more storage

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because I don't want to come across as I'm nagging Paul and Sharon.

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You know, they have the power to evict people.

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I can't risk it with George,

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and a lot of landlords won't take housing benefit.

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So...

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When they moved in, Chris and Courtney

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were given two new mattresses, but the old ones are still there.

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This one was in George's room, just left up against the wall.

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And this, it was the one that was on our bed.

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Asked for this one to be removed and...still here.

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Hello! How you doing?

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The rent is £650 per month,

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which includes eight hours of heating a day,

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set and controlled by the landlords.

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We have no control over the heating.

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It's controlled in another area of the building.

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Can't just say, "Oh, it's cold, turn it up."

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It's meant to come on two, three times a day,

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but it just hasn't been coming on recently.

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I've had to put three, maybe four blankets on George,

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as well as a jumper, because he just gets so cold.

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Give me your hand.

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Time for a bottle?

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Went round to speak to Sharon about how cold the flat is,

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she said she'd send her maintenance team around,

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but, as far as I know, that hasn't happened yet.

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Sometimes it feels like the heating's not even on.

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What else do we pay?

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Before they leave, Chris and Courtney work out their weekly budget.

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-Just on food and electrics, £70.

-Yeah.

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We're hoping that Sharon and Paul will see how difficult it is

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to get by on such a small budget

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and how little storage there is for everything.

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How cold it can get here as well.

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-I'm hoping they're going to get somebody to take mattresses away!

-That'd be nice.

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-I think they'll struggle on £70 a week.

-You reckon?

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-They're going to have to use some heaters.

-Yeah, that's true.

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Courtney texts Paul and Sharon

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to let them know where they'll be staying for the next week.

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That's Courtney and Chris.

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They're both unemployed. She's obviously a mum now.

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Neither have got a job, if I remember rightly.

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They're both definitely... They're on Housing Benefit.

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Shall I text back? "No, not for us."

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Hurry up!

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Paul and Sharon will be staying here in Chris and Courtney's flat

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for seven days.

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Do you think you packed enough?

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No. Because there's hardly anything here.

0:16:400:16:43

This is all her beauty stuff!

0:16:450:16:47

# Welcome home! #

0:16:470:16:50

Now I bring the rest in.

0:16:500:16:51

Why is there mattresses everywhere?

0:16:520:16:54

I don't know. I don't know.

0:16:540:16:56

Maybe, are there people staying?

0:16:560:16:58

Maybe to get the cot in?

0:16:580:16:59

-A letter.

-Ah!

0:16:590:17:01

Welcome, Paul and Sharon, we hope you enjoy your stay in our home.

0:17:040:17:08

We have left you some space in the wardrobe, too.

0:17:080:17:10

Thank you.

0:17:100:17:11

Paul and Sharon have been given Chris and Courtney's weekly budget.

0:17:110:17:15

20, 40, 60, 70.

0:17:150:17:17

£70 for food and electricity.

0:17:170:17:20

Well, it's doable.

0:17:200:17:22

Is it how you like to live?

0:17:220:17:23

Absolutely not. I'd go and get a job.

0:17:230:17:25

-I think we should move this mattress.

-I think so.

0:17:250:17:29

Just put it in situ.

0:17:290:17:30

-There's not going to be anybody in here.

-No.

0:17:300:17:32

Where I'm going to put my stuff, I don't know,

0:17:360:17:38

there's so much of their stuff in here.

0:17:380:17:39

They do seem to be, for some reason, short of storage.

0:17:390:17:42

No bedside tables. We've got loads of bedside tables.

0:17:420:17:44

So this is through lack of asking if they wanted it.

0:17:440:17:47

I mean, my daughter stores most of her clothes on her floor.

0:17:470:17:50

-INTERVIEWER:

-Do you think tenants

0:17:520:17:54

might be scared to ask for more things?

0:17:540:17:56

-Not us. We're very approachable.

-Not us, yeah.

-I mean...

0:17:560:17:58

We just live out the suitcases, I think.

0:18:010:18:04

How does this compare to where you keep your clothes?

0:18:040:18:07

She's laughing because there's 109 shirts in a cupboard,

0:18:070:18:11

all colour co-ordinated and set out, ready for me to wear.

0:18:110:18:14

But that's how I like to live my life.

0:18:140:18:15

I like shirts and I like cupboards.

0:18:150:18:18

It's not just with storage that Paul has high standards.

0:18:180:18:22

I thought that was humidity on the windows,

0:18:220:18:24

but actually it's just muck.

0:18:240:18:25

I don't wish to look like Hyacinth Bucket,

0:18:250:18:27

but if you're unemployed, you really could get some cleaning done.

0:18:270:18:31

Just put this on top of that.

0:18:320:18:34

See what it looks like.

0:18:360:18:37

Once you are in the benefits system,

0:18:370:18:39

it starts to make people lose a bit of spirit.

0:18:390:18:43

A lot of them feel that they can't get anywhere.

0:18:430:18:46

You know, I've only got £70 a week.

0:18:460:18:48

Well, if I was only doing £70 a week,

0:18:480:18:50

I'd be up at all hours cleaning this up.

0:18:500:18:53

My house wouldn't say I've got £70 a week.

0:18:530:18:56

It'd be mint, absolutely mint.

0:18:560:18:58

Courtney and George are settling into

0:19:040:19:06

the serviced apartment they are calling home for the week

0:19:060:19:10

-and waiting for Chris...

-Hello.

-..to get back from work.

0:19:100:19:13

Hey! Hey, you!

0:19:130:19:15

Daddy's got cold hands.

0:19:150:19:17

Chris has recently returned to work, against doctor's advice,

0:19:170:19:21

after two years signed off for a back injury.

0:19:210:19:23

Have you been making the home your own? Yes?

0:19:230:19:25

It's been quite a difficult time being signed off of work,

0:19:250:19:28

not bringing any money home.

0:19:280:19:30

Couldn't wait to get back to work.

0:19:300:19:32

-What do you think?

-Wasn't expecting this.

0:19:320:19:34

But this is lovely.

0:19:340:19:35

-I'm playing with the heating.

-Cos you have control of it?

0:19:350:19:37

Yeah. I've been, like, pressing the buttons!

0:19:370:19:39

It was very important for me to go back to work.

0:19:390:19:41

The money that I was getting from benefits, I just felt I didn't earn.

0:19:410:19:45

-Right, see what you think.

-Got to test the comfort.

-Test it out.

0:19:450:19:48

-Yeah, I've just come home from work.

-COURTNEY LAUGHS

0:19:490:19:52

THEY LAUGH

0:19:520:19:54

This is it!

0:19:540:19:56

See you tomorrow morning!

0:19:560:19:58

-SAMUEL:

-Oh, money!

-In Durham, Samuel and Amanda

0:20:040:20:07

are adjusting to life on their tenant Marie's budget.

0:20:070:20:11

£62.72.

0:20:110:20:14

-Very precise.

-Yes, I know, right to the penny.

0:20:140:20:17

At home, the couple prefer to eat out or live on takeaways.

0:20:170:20:21

If we've only got £62,

0:20:210:20:24

it means that we're not going to really be able to order food in

0:20:240:20:27

and get takeaways, because our money will run out very quickly,

0:20:270:20:30

so we're probably going to have to go out, get food, cook it.

0:20:300:20:34

Do you want to add up some of this stuff as we go?

0:20:380:20:40

Oh, man! Do I have to?

0:20:400:20:43

Wait, wait, we're not finished yet in this aisle.

0:20:430:20:45

This shopping experience

0:20:470:20:48

has probably taken more concentration than usual.

0:20:480:20:51

I mean, usually we just order online and it gets delivered.

0:20:510:20:53

Now we're, like, looking out for the best deals

0:20:530:20:56

just to maximise the amount of money that we've got.

0:20:560:20:58

Could have curry one night and then sweet and sour another night.

0:20:580:21:03

Why don't we get rich tea biscuits?

0:21:030:21:05

50p. Come on, you can't moan at that!

0:21:050:21:08

And then some Rocky bars.

0:21:080:21:09

That's all right, isn't it?

0:21:090:21:11

And that will be, like, our bad stuff for the week.

0:21:110:21:13

We could possibly do with some puddings.

0:21:130:21:15

Quavers. Yeah, Quavers, we love Quavers.

0:21:150:21:18

They have just £62 to last the entire week.

0:21:180:21:21

-£47.87.

-Oh!

0:21:210:21:24

So we literally have got now less than £15 left in the world.

0:21:240:21:29

It's just crazy, isn't it, how fast £62 can run out?

0:21:290:21:34

-I know.

-Welcome to the real world!

-THEY SCOFF

0:21:340:21:37

Toilet roll. Chicken for tomorrow.

0:21:390:21:43

-Two days, that will last us for.

-Great.

0:21:430:21:46

In Weston-Super-Mare, Paul and Sharon have also been shopping.

0:21:460:21:50

Tinned tomatoes.

0:21:520:21:54

I would never be satisfied with simply what's in front of me here.

0:21:540:21:58

I think it's a really easy option, staying on benefits.

0:21:580:22:01

It's about what you're happy with.

0:22:010:22:03

After putting £12 aside for their electric meter,

0:22:030:22:06

they have allowed themselves a food budget for the week of £58.

0:22:060:22:10

What would you spend £58 on normally?

0:22:110:22:14

Gin.

0:22:140:22:15

Like many of their generation,

0:22:190:22:20

Sharon and Paul got on the property ladder early.

0:22:200:22:23

I've never rented a property.

0:22:240:22:25

I didn't leave home until I was 22.

0:22:250:22:29

I bought my own house, my first house.

0:22:290:22:31

Had lodgers in it.

0:22:310:22:33

I managed to get a 99% mortgage.

0:22:340:22:37

But then, the property was only £32,000.

0:22:370:22:41

Unlike Paul and Sharon,

0:22:410:22:43

it's predicted at least a third of Chris and Courtney's generation

0:22:430:22:46

will still be renting when they're 60.

0:22:460:22:49

Are you kicking your legs about again, George?

0:22:490:22:51

The way things are at the moment, saving's just not an option.

0:22:510:22:54

Any money that we get coming in,

0:22:560:22:58

it literally pays for us just to keep living.

0:22:580:23:01

There's no way we can save up for a life at the moment.

0:23:010:23:03

I haven't looked into buying a home yet.

0:23:050:23:07

It just looks like such a...

0:23:070:23:09

..hard thing to be able to do.

0:23:100:23:12

Demand for rental properties in Weston-Super-Mare is high,

0:23:150:23:19

pushing up rental prices and making it

0:23:190:23:21

one of the most profitable seaside towns for landlords in the UK.

0:23:210:23:25

I think there's so much of it. Look! I've eaten like a king tonight!

0:23:250:23:30

That's another meal there.

0:23:300:23:31

That was the cheapest spaghetti ever.

0:23:330:23:35

It was, like, 30p or something for that whole pack.

0:23:350:23:38

Quite nice, isn't it?

0:23:400:23:42

I don't think it will be harder than we thought,

0:23:420:23:44

because we always thought it was going to be hard.

0:23:440:23:46

I was once told that the first three days in a prison

0:23:470:23:50

is the hardest three days and then once you fall into the routine,

0:23:500:23:53

the rest of it just falls in.

0:23:530:23:54

Have you found it cold?

0:23:540:23:57

-Gosh, no!

-We are boiling up. We've got windows open.

0:23:570:23:59

-But we don't sleep with the radiator on at home anyway.

-No.

0:23:590:24:02

It might be something to do with being old, wrinkly and fat.

0:24:020:24:07

Look at this! What on earth?!

0:24:210:24:24

That looks like dog scratches.

0:24:240:24:26

That must be dog scratches.

0:24:260:24:28

But then, how big's this dog?

0:24:280:24:31

In Durham, Samuel's noticing

0:24:310:24:33

the hole in the roof isn't the only problem.

0:24:330:24:36

Interesting that the door handles aren't on.

0:24:360:24:39

There just seems to be a lot of little things peeling and falling.

0:24:390:24:44

I bought this house almost five years ago and it did look nicer.

0:24:440:24:50

Despite the property increasing in value,

0:24:500:24:53

Samuel only makes £25 profit a month from Marie's rent.

0:24:530:24:58

One of the reasons she got such a cheap rent was because there were things that needed doing.

0:24:580:25:02

Now, the hallway's a different story, that's a massive thing.

0:25:020:25:05

But when it comes to things that aren't necessities but just a bit shabby,

0:25:050:25:08

the kind of arrangement was that she'd sort that out.

0:25:080:25:11

What's this stuff, babe, do you know?

0:25:150:25:18

Here.

0:25:180:25:20

Eugh!

0:25:200:25:22

What? What is it?

0:25:220:25:23

Slugs! Slug slime!

0:25:230:25:25

-No!

-Oh, that is so gross.

0:25:250:25:28

-No, it isn't.

-Yeah, it is.

0:25:280:25:31

Oh, my goodness, that is...

0:25:310:25:32

Oh, it's disgusting. I wish I didn't see that.

0:25:320:25:35

-Ew!

-Right on the hob as well.

0:25:350:25:37

-Oh.

-Oh, no! When did that happen?

0:25:370:25:38

It must have happened overnight, cos it wasn't there last night.

0:25:380:25:42

I'm going to the living room.

0:25:420:25:43

Oh, that's so gross.

0:25:430:25:45

Anyway. Yeah.

0:25:450:25:47

That's kind of put me off my food a bit.

0:25:470:25:49

If I had that problem reoccurring, I would sort it.

0:25:490:25:52

Yeah. That is not cool.

0:25:520:25:54

Babe, seven days will be enough here!

0:25:540:25:57

Yeah.

0:25:570:25:59

# Our God is a great big God... #

0:26:030:26:07

Devout Christians Samuel and Amanda have escaped to the local church

0:26:070:26:11

to find out more about the area they invested in.

0:26:110:26:13

# ..And he holds us in his hands... #

0:26:130:26:16

The town where Marie lives

0:26:180:26:20

was once the lifeblood of the British steel industry.

0:26:200:26:23

When the local plant shut down in 1980,

0:26:230:26:26

3,000 people lost their jobs, before house prices slumped.

0:26:260:26:30

How long are you living in the area?

0:26:320:26:35

I'm in County Durham for one week.

0:26:350:26:37

-Right.

-I mean, I bought the house without even looking at it.

0:26:370:26:40

-Oh, did you?

-I bought it blind, because it was a good price.

0:26:400:26:43

-Yes.

-My friend told me about it and said it's a good price.

0:26:430:26:46

I bought it. Renting it out, I've only ever seen it once before.

0:26:460:26:50

-Right.

-So I don't know the area at all.

0:26:500:26:52

It's actually come up-market, believe it or not.

0:26:520:26:54

-Has it?

-Might find that strange.

0:26:540:26:57

-Right.

-Because... Because when the steelworks closed,

0:26:570:27:00

it was about 35% unemployment in the area.

0:27:000:27:06

Right. That's quite high.

0:27:060:27:07

So, is the tenant working?

0:27:070:27:10

No. It's a mum and two daughters that live there,

0:27:100:27:13

and she pays via housing benefits.

0:27:130:27:15

-Right, right.

-Yeah.

0:27:150:27:17

I think, to be a landlord, as a Christian, might be very difficult,

0:27:170:27:21

because if someone hasn't paid the rent, after a while,

0:27:210:27:24

you might have to evict them and that must be very hard.

0:27:240:27:29

When you're faced, you know, with that situation,

0:27:290:27:31

I think they must have a social conscience.

0:27:310:27:34

I think when she first moved in, she had a job,

0:27:360:27:38

but then she got a bit sick, she moved...

0:27:380:27:41

She asked me if it was OK if she moved to benefits.

0:27:410:27:43

I said, "Look, you know, as long as you pay your rent on time, it's fine."

0:27:430:27:46

So she went on benefits.

0:27:460:27:47

But a few months ago, her benefits stopped

0:27:470:27:50

and she said that she'd be able to get it sorted,

0:27:500:27:53

but it's just been dragging on.

0:27:530:27:54

We haven't had rent for that property,

0:27:540:27:57

I think it's...been at least three, I think it's been four months.

0:27:570:28:01

-I can't believe that.

-Yeah, it has. Yeah, it has.

0:28:010:28:03

When do you think, though, it'll get to the point where you're just like, "Hmm"?

0:28:030:28:07

Or do you think you're just going to be patient with it

0:28:070:28:10

-and just wait until...?

-Well...

0:28:100:28:12

I think... I think if it's not sorted by the end of this month,

0:28:140:28:18

then I'll start having some firm words.

0:28:180:28:20

-Yeah.

-Yeah.

0:28:200:28:21

Marie was a paying tenant, working as a theatre nurse,

0:28:260:28:30

until an injury forced her to retrain.

0:28:300:28:32

I fell and damaged my back, which resulted in a few surgeries,

0:28:320:28:37

which meant stooping over patients became very difficult

0:28:370:28:40

and I just really struggled.

0:28:400:28:42

She's now studying full-time to be a social worker,

0:28:420:28:45

and is dependent on student finance and housing benefit.

0:28:450:28:48

But four months ago,

0:28:480:28:50

we got a letter through the door stopping my housing benefit,

0:28:500:28:54

as I was being reassessed.

0:28:540:28:56

So I can't pay the rent.

0:28:560:28:57

Over the last five years,

0:28:590:29:01

there has been a steady increase in the number of households

0:29:010:29:03

facing homelessness due to problems with a housing benefit claim.

0:29:030:29:07

It's going to take the Council as long as it's going to take them.

0:29:070:29:11

And I think that's what's more scary,

0:29:110:29:12

because I don't have any control over it.

0:29:120:29:14

-I'll bring it in.

-OK, darling.

0:29:210:29:23

In Weston-Super-Mare, Sharon and Paul

0:29:230:29:25

want to get to the bottom of why Chris and Courtney

0:29:250:29:28

said they were cold in their welcome note.

0:29:280:29:30

There's never been an issue, for anybody that's ever rented here.

0:29:300:29:35

The tenants here pay £10 a week for central heating,

0:29:350:29:39

but the boiler is locked away

0:29:390:29:41

and only Sharon and Paul can set the timings.

0:29:410:29:44

When this young couple came to us, they had nothing.

0:29:440:29:47

They had no furniture, they had nothing.

0:29:470:29:49

Um, you know, I believe they were living in the YMCA

0:29:490:29:53

and they had absolutely nothing.

0:29:530:29:55

No deposit, no nothing.

0:29:550:29:57

So we took them in, yeah?

0:29:570:29:59

And, in a way, we gave them the opportunity

0:29:590:30:02

to live within what they were getting from the benefit system.

0:30:020:30:07

We've got two working people in the other flats, OK,

0:30:070:30:10

so they don't moan, they're quite happy. Everybody is happy.

0:30:100:30:13

I think... Yeah. So, when people come and view these flats,

0:30:130:30:16

when you turn round and say that eight hours of heating

0:30:160:30:20

-is included and the...

-Continuous hot water.

0:30:200:30:23

The continuous hot water, yeah.

0:30:230:30:24

5.30 this morning, I did the washing-up.

0:30:240:30:26

-Hot water.

-They absolutely love it, you know?

0:30:260:30:28

Doesn't seem to have a bleed nipple on this one.

0:30:300:30:32

-Not quite sure why.

-But it doesn't matter

0:30:320:30:35

how many hours of heating you have if the radiators don't work.

0:30:350:30:38

So I just heard it click on there. Just heard the water start to go.

0:30:380:30:41

-You can hear it pumping round, dripping and what have you.

-Yeah.

0:30:410:30:44

It's getting hot at the bottom and not at the top.

0:30:440:30:46

There's not a hole in there, is there?

0:30:460:30:48

-Did you check that?

-No. A hole in there?!

0:30:480:30:50

It would be pouring out all over the place!

0:30:500:30:52

No, I meant is there like a little leak, a leak...?

0:30:520:30:54

If there was a leak in that, sweetie, we'd all be covered in water.

0:30:540:30:57

So it's not causing a problem with the flow.

0:30:570:30:59

Just check the pressure is sitting at about 1.6.

0:30:590:31:02

I'm going to go around the radiators and let the air out of them.

0:31:020:31:05

AIR HISSES

0:31:050:31:07

I can hear massive air coming out of that.

0:31:070:31:08

It's getting warm right through now.

0:31:100:31:12

People need to stop thinking we're hoteliers,

0:31:120:31:14

and they need to start thinking, "This is my home

0:31:140:31:17

"and, actually, I could bleed a radiator."

0:31:170:31:19

Now, in this instance, it would be difficult

0:31:190:31:20

because they couldn't repressurise the boiler.

0:31:200:31:23

We don't want them to bleed the radiators, we want them to tell us.

0:31:230:31:25

Oh! Ah! Ooh! That's very hot.

0:31:250:31:28

But not every tenant finds it easy

0:31:300:31:32

to report a problem to their landlord.

0:31:320:31:35

I don't think that you could approach Paul and Sharon

0:31:350:31:38

-if you had a problem.

-No.

0:31:380:31:39

If I ever did try to approach Sharon with a complaint,

0:31:390:31:42

I'd be worried that she would tell me off for something.

0:31:420:31:45

I've got no problems going to people,

0:31:460:31:48

telling them there is something wrong,

0:31:480:31:49

but I suppose there is the worry that, complaining too much,

0:31:490:31:52

if they decide to take it the wrong way one day,

0:31:520:31:55

-they could ask you to move on.

-Yeah.

0:31:550:31:57

Like the majority of people renting in Britain,

0:31:570:32:01

Chris and Courtney are on an assured shorthold tenancy.

0:32:010:32:04

After the fixed term of six months ends,

0:32:040:32:07

they can be legally evicted for no reason.

0:32:070:32:10

In Durham, Samuel is facing the consequences

0:32:180:32:21

of not being told about a problem before it's too late.

0:32:210:32:24

Why is it there, why has Marie not told me about it or anybody about it?

0:32:260:32:30

Yeah, so... Also, how much is it going to potentially cost to fix?

0:32:310:32:34

-Hey, how's it going?

-Hi.

0:32:370:32:38

I'm Samuel. Come on through.

0:32:380:32:41

To get a quote, Samuel has called out a builder.

0:32:410:32:44

See up there, there's grass in the gutter.

0:32:440:32:46

-OK, yeah.

-That grass in the gutter, the water is coming down the roof,

0:32:460:32:50

and it's saturating the grass.

0:32:500:32:51

You need to clean that gutter out, water seal the whole wall,

0:32:510:32:54

and then do the plastering inside, it will stop it from leaking.

0:32:540:32:57

What do you think the cost would be?

0:32:570:32:59

About 700 quid, that would see that finished.

0:32:590:33:01

Sure. And then inside, plus £150, maybe, for a day.

0:33:010:33:04

Yeah, so... £220.

0:33:040:33:07

-You're talking about £900 for the whole thing?

-Yeah.

0:33:070:33:10

Do you reckon if, when we first saw it,

0:33:100:33:12

if it was just a little bit bad,

0:33:120:33:14

would it still cost the same to fix it?

0:33:140:33:16

No, because you just would have took that grass out,

0:33:160:33:18

it would have alleviated all the bother.

0:33:180:33:20

-Really?

-Aye.

0:33:200:33:21

Jeez!

0:33:210:33:23

That's really annoying.

0:33:230:33:25

-I've got your card, so I'll give you a call.

-OK, no bother.

0:33:250:33:27

-Cheers.

-Thanks.

-Bye now.

0:33:270:33:29

Not great news. For the whole thing, it will take four days

0:33:290:33:32

and he can do it for 900 quid. Even if we are getting our full rent,

0:33:320:33:36

we are making less than £100 a month.

0:33:360:33:38

And we're not getting any rent, so it's costing us...

0:33:380:33:40

-Yeah.

-..almost £400 a month, and now there's this.

0:33:400:33:43

If we don't get some rent in before we have to pay this out,

0:33:430:33:46

I'm not going to... I'm going to be furious.

0:33:460:33:49

We need rent...now.

0:33:490:33:50

Look at the books? Or newspapers, I haven't seen the newspaper today.

0:33:580:34:02

In Weston-Super-Mare, Paul and Sharon

0:34:020:34:04

are determined not to spend any of their precious budget.

0:34:040:34:07

-Health and wellbeing.

-Cooking On A Budget.

0:34:080:34:11

THEY LAUGH

0:34:110:34:12

-Here's some nice papers.

-Let's have a little read, then.

0:34:120:34:15

Have a look at that one.

0:34:150:34:17

Lot 207, planning permission for ten dwellings.

0:34:170:34:21

In there, good tenants, nice income.

0:34:210:34:23

Always on the lookout for a property bargain,

0:34:230:34:26

the couple first bought in Weston-Super-Mare in 1999.

0:34:260:34:31

We knew that Weston was pretty much on its knees,

0:34:310:34:34

but so were a lot of other seaside towns,

0:34:340:34:36

such as Hastings, such as Margate.

0:34:360:34:38

We kind of decided Weston was the place to be

0:34:380:34:41

because there were bound to start regenerating it soon.

0:34:410:34:44

The others have been regenerated,

0:34:440:34:45

Weston is still sitting there on its knees.

0:34:450:34:48

We were going to do the properties up to a really good standard.

0:34:480:34:52

We put telephone boxes in them, put launderettes in them,

0:34:520:34:55

pictures on the walls.

0:34:550:34:56

We made them absolutely lovely.

0:34:560:34:58

They smashed the machines up, they stole the pictures.

0:34:590:35:02

-And the phone box.

-And the phone box.

0:35:020:35:04

Our business model became more to the DSS line.

0:35:050:35:08

We had to go bare minimal.

0:35:080:35:11

We catered to the needs of the mentality of our clientele, basically.

0:35:110:35:15

-It is what it is. We are not going to walk away...

-Paupers.

-..paupers.

0:35:150:35:19

Landlords like Paul and Sharon who rent to benefit tenants

0:35:200:35:24

have received over £9 billion from the public purse since 2015.

0:35:240:35:29

-Got two millionaire's desserts.

-Or not so millionaires!

0:35:290:35:33

Not so millionaire this week, that's for sure.

0:35:330:35:35

This week, however, they have limited themselves

0:35:350:35:39

-to their tenants' budget of £70.

-And I'm still 20 quid up.

0:35:390:35:42

And we are all mealed up till the day we go.

0:35:440:35:47

It's very important to stick to our budget,

0:35:470:35:49

and hopefully have some left over.

0:35:490:35:51

-It's a challenge to us.

-Next time a tenant says to me,

0:35:510:35:54

"I've only got 70 quid to live on,"

0:35:540:35:56

I can turn around and say, "Well, I had 70 quid to live on and I had 20 quid at the end."

0:35:560:36:01

My life outside of here is 100 times more stressful than living...

0:36:010:36:06

This is glorious!

0:36:060:36:08

This is like a bad camping holiday.

0:36:080:36:11

-Up your bum.

-Cheers.

0:36:130:36:14

-No, no, no...

-When Paul and Sharon

0:36:170:36:19

meet their tenants Chris and Courtney tomorrow,

0:36:190:36:22

it will be the first time they have all met each other face-to-face.

0:36:220:36:27

I think when we see Paul and Sharon it's going to be general questions

0:36:270:36:31

of how they have found it, sort of, living on our budget.

0:36:310:36:34

They might say they didn't find it too difficult,

0:36:340:36:36

mainly because they haven't had to do it for very long.

0:36:360:36:38

Looking forward to see how they got on with the heating as well.

0:36:380:36:41

-It's a double wrap.

-We have said about it before,

0:36:410:36:43

so is there any chance, now you've lived it, that maybe it will change?

0:36:430:36:49

OK. Let's go.

0:36:510:36:54

Never met Chris and Courtney,

0:36:540:36:56

so everything I learn about them today I will learn about them today.

0:36:560:36:59

But what hasn't happened is

0:36:590:37:01

they haven't reported that the radiators need bleeding,

0:37:010:37:04

maybe we will need to educate them.

0:37:040:37:06

Today may be a bit awkward at times,

0:37:060:37:09

as if we are having a sit-down with our parents.

0:37:090:37:11

How did you find living in our flat for the past few days?

0:37:170:37:20

I love the flat, it's so tall and airy.

0:37:200:37:24

-Definitely airy.

-Well, yeah, because I put the windows open,

0:37:240:37:28

-so it's going to be airy.

-I found that it was...

0:37:280:37:30

There was a lot of disarray in your flat, for me,

0:37:300:37:33

with lots of clothes everywhere and everything else.

0:37:330:37:35

I didn't quite understand that.

0:37:350:37:37

You've seen how we are struggling for storage.

0:37:370:37:39

We've not only just moved ourselves in, we are moving in a new baby.

0:37:390:37:42

On your note, you said you were cold.

0:37:420:37:44

The problem is that the radiator needed bleeding.

0:37:440:37:46

I put a radiator key in it, and the radiator started working.

0:37:460:37:49

But you guys don't say you're cold.

0:37:490:37:51

Well, we have been a couple of times

0:37:510:37:52

and said that it mainly is during the day. Obviously,

0:37:520:37:55

-Courtney is home all day...

-I'm home all day.

-..with George.

0:37:550:37:58

The gas obviously costs money. Yeah?

0:37:580:38:00

If you had the capabilities

0:38:000:38:02

to be able to have the boiler on full steam ahead, yeah,

0:38:020:38:07

the price would increase from £10 a week to £40 a week.

0:38:070:38:11

Would you be able to afford £40 a week?

0:38:110:38:14

Because it is the health of a young child more than anything,

0:38:140:38:18

it would be something that would have to be afforded.

0:38:180:38:20

Where would you get that out of your 70 quid?

0:38:200:38:22

May have involved borrowing money and things.

0:38:220:38:25

You couldn't think it was a great idea

0:38:250:38:27

to borrow money to heat the flat.

0:38:270:38:29

You came to us because that was an inclusive price

0:38:290:38:31

and that's what you could afford.

0:38:310:38:33

What you have to do is cut your cloth to suit your coin,

0:38:330:38:35

and the way you do that is by putting jumpers on,

0:38:350:38:38

making sure the radiator works.

0:38:380:38:40

The biggest issue here is that you have not said anything.

0:38:400:38:43

I've come in a couple of times, may not have been written down, but...

0:38:430:38:47

That's what you need to say.

0:38:470:38:48

"I'm coming in to make a maintenance report.

0:38:480:38:51

"Please can you sort it?"

0:38:510:38:53

I don't really leave the house a lot, do I?

0:38:530:38:55

Courtney finds it very difficult to approach people.

0:38:550:38:57

So...

0:38:570:38:59

OK. You're fine, sweetie.

0:39:000:39:02

You're fine. There's nothing to be scared of here.

0:39:020:39:05

-Big breath. Don't be frightened.

-You're all right.

0:39:050:39:08

We have said countless times, and it's not done.

0:39:140:39:17

I'm finding it very difficult to talk over him.

0:39:170:39:20

I don't want to be made out to be a liar.

0:39:200:39:22

If anything, we are the ones that should have the issue.

0:39:220:39:24

And it feels like we are just being attacked.

0:39:240:39:26

All right?

0:39:280:39:30

Don't worry, you're fine.

0:39:300:39:32

There's nothing to be scared of.

0:39:320:39:34

Courtney finds it a bit difficult to approach people with...

0:39:340:39:37

-That's fine, seriously.

-..any problems that we have...

0:39:370:39:39

Seriously, if you have a communication problem, write it down, then.

0:39:390:39:42

When we first moved in, you had a member of staff round

0:39:420:39:44

to do the inventory of what's there, what's not there, what's broken, what's not broken.

0:39:440:39:48

-What are those mattresses?!

-The mattresses were there when we moved in.

0:39:480:39:51

Have you asked for it to be removed?

0:39:510:39:52

We have been in and asked for it to be removed.

0:39:520:39:54

You haven't asked me, then.

0:39:540:39:55

I can only apologise 100% for that, because that is not...

0:39:550:39:59

-It was on your inventory as well, was it?

-It was, it was written down.

0:39:590:40:01

I can only say this is disgusting.

0:40:010:40:04

I pride myself on keeping my tenants happy, as you know.

0:40:040:40:07

If it's not happening, then you have every right

0:40:070:40:09

to turn round and say, "Come on, guys."

0:40:090:40:12

The thing that is a little bit more difficult

0:40:120:40:14

now that I am, very recently, gone back to work, driving,

0:40:140:40:17

I don't have the free time to come into the office and speak to you myself.

0:40:170:40:21

You're going back to driving now?

0:40:210:40:22

I needed to.

0:40:220:40:24

I've always worked, so to be signed off work was very difficult for me.

0:40:240:40:28

I had a back injury a number of years ago.

0:40:280:40:30

I had to have a disc removed from my spine,

0:40:300:40:32

it was a very painful operation and a very long recovery process.

0:40:320:40:36

Well, back pain is so debilitating.

0:40:360:40:38

-It is terrible.

-It is just so debilitating.

0:40:380:40:40

I mean, I get it as well, it's like...

0:40:400:40:43

I didn't realise that Chris is getting back into work,

0:40:430:40:46

which is absolutely fantastic.

0:40:460:40:48

That's what our society should be today.

0:40:480:40:50

We should be on benefits for when you need it

0:40:500:40:52

and then, as soon as you can possibly work again,

0:40:520:40:54

you should be out there, getting to work.

0:40:540:40:56

And I didn't realise Courtney was quite as shy as she is.

0:40:560:41:00

She may well have had difficulties

0:41:000:41:02

in trying to get her issues across to us,

0:41:020:41:05

but unfortunately, our crystal ball broke.

0:41:050:41:07

It was difficult at times to get a word in edgeways, but...

0:41:070:41:11

they can see that we've been struggling

0:41:110:41:13

for temperature and things like that.

0:41:130:41:14

I think the worst thing for us is if the problems don't resolve,

0:41:140:41:17

if they are still there further on down the line.

0:41:170:41:21

Thank you, darling.

0:41:330:41:34

In Durham, Samuel and Amanda

0:41:340:41:36

are trying to stick to their tenants' weekly budget.

0:41:360:41:40

These are like the sausages you used to get, you know at school?

0:41:400:41:43

-Hot dinners?

-Oh, man.

0:41:430:41:45

You know when we got here and we saw her budget,

0:41:460:41:49

and it was like, £62.78, and we said, what's with the pence?

0:41:490:41:54

And now, we are desperate for a few more pence!

0:41:540:41:57

I know, it'd make all the difference!

0:41:570:41:59

We have got £2 left of our budget for the week.

0:42:000:42:03

I have lost £1.

0:42:030:42:05

-You have lost £1?

-I have lost one of the pounds, sorry.

0:42:050:42:07

He has lost one of the pounds!

0:42:070:42:09

I can't believe how fast the money has gone.

0:42:090:42:13

And we feel like we have lived like paupers.

0:42:130:42:16

-That's true.

-Surely most people don't only have £62 a week.

0:42:160:42:19

-How do you...

-It's weird, because...

-How do you just live a normal life?

0:42:190:42:22

What does Maria do? £62 a week was apparently her budget -

0:42:220:42:26

not for food, it was her budget.

0:42:260:42:29

What about the other things that we might have to spend on?

0:42:290:42:31

Like a repair on the house,

0:42:310:42:33

or just general stuff that you have to pay for, like parking?

0:42:330:42:36

And she has got two kids to look after as well, on that.

0:42:360:42:39

Yeah, yeah.

0:42:390:42:41

I don't know. I do wonder how people live.

0:42:410:42:43

I don't understand why the bin keeps sticking.

0:42:460:42:48

Sticking, what do you mean?

0:42:480:42:50

-Like it won't open.

-Oh, it's because I keep putting my feet on it while I'm on the toilet.

0:42:500:42:54

Why would you do that?

0:42:540:42:56

Who does that?

0:42:560:42:57

The bin broke.

0:42:590:43:00

I broke it. And we haven't got

0:43:000:43:02

the money to fix it, which would be about £10,

0:43:020:43:05

-because we're on the budget that Marie is on.

-Yeah.

-So maybe...

0:43:050:43:08

HE COUGHS

0:43:080:43:10

Maybe there might be some things in the house that she would do,

0:43:100:43:13

because there are some small things, aren't there,

0:43:130:43:16

that we would probably do, if it was our house?

0:43:160:43:18

-Yeah.

-But the reason she doesn't is because she can't afford it.

0:43:180:43:22

The budget he's had to live on, that's only for six days.

0:43:230:43:27

Can he even begin to imagine

0:43:270:43:30

what the struggle would be to live on that 52 weeks of the year?

0:43:300:43:34

Within that, there's birthdays,

0:43:340:43:36

school holidays, there's... there's life.

0:43:360:43:40

At the moment, Marie's oldest daughter works as a care assistant

0:43:400:43:44

and is the only person in the household bringing in a wage.

0:43:440:43:47

I give my mum money on a weekly basis.

0:43:470:43:51

Sometimes, if it's like... It could be 20 quid, it could be more.

0:43:510:43:55

It's just to help around.

0:43:550:43:58

Like, if she needs it for gas, electricity.

0:43:580:44:01

Food. Anything, really.

0:44:010:44:04

Is he thinking, "Doesn't matter, I've got my bank card anyway"?

0:44:040:44:08

There's no guarantees he's actually stuck 100% to our budget.

0:44:080:44:14

We have run out of our budget.

0:44:150:44:18

We have just been feeling hungry and tired and a little bit fed up,

0:44:180:44:21

so we did go over our budget slightly.

0:44:210:44:24

We have been a little bit naughty.

0:44:240:44:26

And we got the Just Eat app,

0:44:260:44:29

ordered a little bit of Chinese food.

0:44:290:44:32

So...feel a little bit defeated, really.

0:44:320:44:36

I feel bad, but just was too...

0:44:360:44:39

too hungry.

0:44:390:44:41

-I don't know. What do you think, Amanda?

-Yeah.

0:44:410:44:44

We really wanted to stick to the budget as well,

0:44:440:44:46

-but...

-It's just so hard.

0:44:460:44:48

And just so much cooking.

0:44:490:44:50

Every time you want to eat, you have to cook and stuff.

0:44:500:44:53

-Yeah.

-Oh, man.

0:44:530:44:55

Really tough. Ain't nobody got time for that!

0:44:550:44:58

Ain't nobody got time for that!

0:44:580:44:59

After meeting Chris and Courtney,

0:45:050:45:07

Sharon wants to get to the bottom of the complaints.

0:45:070:45:10

I was put in a very embarrassing situation yesterday,

0:45:100:45:12

to find out that they had these problems

0:45:120:45:14

and they hadn't been rectified.

0:45:140:45:16

I want to find out what happened.

0:45:160:45:17

Is everything they said accurate,

0:45:170:45:19

or is there something that is not quite right?

0:45:190:45:22

And she has asked her office manager to show her the maintenance reports.

0:45:220:45:26

Kitchen window, cracked inside.

0:45:260:45:28

-We got that repaired, didn't we?

-Oh, yes. That was done.

0:45:280:45:31

Lino ripped.

0:45:310:45:32

OK, hold on a second, it does say plus mattress, hallway.

0:45:320:45:36

That might be my way of writing things.

0:45:360:45:39

-What's all that, then?

-That was me, noting it for me.

0:45:390:45:42

OK, because what worries me

0:45:420:45:43

is I think our maintenance system has slipped a bit,

0:45:430:45:45

and we need to work on that system somehow.

0:45:450:45:47

I think this one has got to be the most rarest exception,

0:45:470:45:51

because of the fact of the baby, and we moved them so quickly.

0:45:510:45:54

Normally, as you say, the flat is pristine before anyone goes into it.

0:45:540:45:58

Never once has anything been brought to my attention,

0:45:580:46:01

"We are not happy about this."

0:46:010:46:03

They did say to me yesterday that they kind of had mentioned it.

0:46:030:46:06

I just find it very strange.

0:46:060:46:09

No, I'm a bit confused. Anyway, doesn't matter.

0:46:090:46:11

For us, it shouldn't happen.

0:46:110:46:13

-That's not what you and I pride ourselves on.

-No.

0:46:130:46:15

Every now and again, communication breaks down.

0:46:160:46:18

This seems to be one of those times, sadly.

0:46:180:46:22

It is hard being a landlord.

0:46:220:46:25

It has made me more cynical towards people.

0:46:250:46:27

A lot of that is because I have been tricked

0:46:270:46:30

by so many tenants that I try and help. I don't trust people,

0:46:300:46:34

which is a bit of a sad thing, really.

0:46:340:46:36

But that's what it has made me, unfortunately.

0:46:360:46:40

Before Samuel meets his tenant, Marie,

0:46:480:46:51

he wants to find out how the rent he is charging

0:46:510:46:54

compares to other properties in the area.

0:46:540:46:56

She's only paying 400, and she's not even paying that,

0:46:560:46:59

because benefits are paying it,

0:46:590:47:00

and sometimes, not even benefits are paying it,

0:47:000:47:03

so I think I am being very, very gracious on her.

0:47:030:47:06

So, how many beds is yours?

0:47:060:47:08

Three double bedrooms.

0:47:080:47:10

And an office. And a dining room and a lounge.

0:47:100:47:13

You will be surprised when you find out how much rent I'm getting.

0:47:130:47:16

-Oh, really?

-It's not much.

-Is it not?

0:47:160:47:18

400.

0:47:180:47:20

-No!

-Yeah, I know. It's bad.

0:47:200:47:22

You could potentially get more to the 550 mark.

0:47:220:47:25

-550. That would be quite achievable.

-Yeah, absolutely.

0:47:250:47:27

Apparently, that road is very, very popular.

0:47:270:47:30

I would need to change the doors, there are a couple of things

0:47:300:47:32

I'd need to do to make it look a bit more modern.

0:47:320:47:34

But I could definitely get a lot more rent for it.

0:47:340:47:37

That house is in the best location I could have chosen to be.

0:47:410:47:44

It's not far from uni, it's not far from your school,

0:47:440:47:48

it's not far from Freya's work.

0:47:480:47:49

We have got friends on the street.

0:47:490:47:51

We have got everything on the doorstep that we need.

0:47:510:47:54

We have moved quite a lot.

0:47:540:47:56

Nowhere has ever really felt like home.

0:47:560:47:58

But here, it does. It does feel home, it feels like

0:47:580:48:01

probably where I'm going to grow old.

0:48:010:48:04

-Er...

-SHE LAUGHS

0:48:040:48:06

Thank you, see you later. Bye.

0:48:060:48:08

I'm worried that he's going to make us homeless.

0:48:160:48:19

And it is a massive worry that

0:48:190:48:21

he is going to go away and make our lives more difficult.

0:48:210:48:25

I still don't know why the benefits stopped.

0:48:260:48:28

I didn't know about the hallway, I didn't know about lots of things.

0:48:280:48:31

So we need to have a sit-down and a chat.

0:48:310:48:33

It's been very interesting, living in the house for the week.

0:48:390:48:43

But, yeah, there are some things that...

0:48:430:48:46

um, aren't great.

0:48:460:48:48

Yeah.

0:48:480:48:49

-Yeah.

-Did it shock you?

-The hallway shocked me.

0:48:490:48:52

I was just like, "Oh, my gosh!"

0:48:520:48:54

Like, what on earth? How has that happened?

0:48:540:48:57

So, I guess the thing I'm a little bit surprised at

0:48:570:48:59

is you've not sort of mentioned it to me since it's escalated.

0:48:590:49:02

-I don't know whether I even ever heard about it.

-I told you.

0:49:020:49:05

-Did you tell me?

-And I sent photographs.

0:49:050:49:07

-I e-mailed.

-Did you now? OK.

0:49:070:49:09

Maybe when you messaged me, maybe I was on holiday...

0:49:090:49:11

You were, you were getting ready

0:49:110:49:13

to go to wherever it was you went before California.

0:49:130:49:16

-Oh, Africa?

-Africa.

0:49:160:49:17

Africa, then I was in California, then I was in Thailand.

0:49:170:49:21

I probably just passed it on and forgot about it.

0:49:210:49:24

I'd imagined you would be jumping up and down,

0:49:240:49:26

sending me a picture every week, "Hey, don't forget!"

0:49:260:49:28

I don't want to come across as a naggy tenant

0:49:280:49:31

who thinks you've got nothing better to do

0:49:310:49:33

-than deal with what's going on in my house.

-Yeah.

0:49:330:49:36

I appreciate you not wanting to be a naggy tenant,

0:49:360:49:38

but you really, really should've told me.

0:49:380:49:40

It's a big problem. It's something that, you know,

0:49:400:49:42

definitely needs to get sorted.

0:49:420:49:44

This really bothers me, you know.

0:49:450:49:47

-What's that?

-I know this is going to cost a lot of money for you.

0:49:470:49:50

Yeah.

0:49:500:49:51

I can't afford for you to put the rent up, I really can't.

0:49:510:49:55

Yeah. No, I'm aware of that. I mean, we have lived on your budget.

0:49:550:49:58

I love our house. It's our home.

0:49:580:50:01

I've said that from day one.

0:50:010:50:02

If you put the rent up, we will have to move, and...

0:50:020:50:05

..I can't. I can't afford to move.

0:50:070:50:09

I can't afford to cope with

0:50:090:50:10

the stress on top of that with university, and...

0:50:100:50:13

-Yeah. I understand.

-I hope so, I really do hope so.

0:50:150:50:17

-Yeah, I understand.

-Because it's our home.

0:50:170:50:19

And regardless of the ceiling or anything, we love it.

0:50:190:50:22

If we are going to be out on our ear, then...

0:50:220:50:25

we are going to struggle.

0:50:250:50:27

Yeah.

0:50:270:50:29

So, why did your benefits stop?

0:50:290:50:31

They reassess it. They call so many people in every year to reassess it.

0:50:310:50:36

Now they have gone back to university to get confirmation

0:50:360:50:39

from them that I'm studying and I'm still at university.

0:50:390:50:43

-So, it will get sorted?

-Oh, 100%.

0:50:430:50:45

I don't doubt for one minute that it will not get sorted.

0:50:450:50:48

-Yeah.

-It just happens that this year,

0:50:480:50:49

I'm one of the ones that they've pulled in to reassess.

0:50:490:50:52

Because, yeah, it's been a while. Obviously, we need to sort it.

0:50:520:50:54

Samuel must now decide what he wants to do, before Marie returns home.

0:50:560:51:01

It's good to have seen him again,

0:51:020:51:04

but it's not alleviated any of my fears.

0:51:040:51:07

If anything, I have come out of there now

0:51:070:51:09

thinking I need to go and find somewhere else to live.

0:51:090:51:12

At the end of the day, what we have got to remember is,

0:51:140:51:17

this property business is not a charity.

0:51:170:51:19

Just by getting a new tenant,

0:51:190:51:21

we are going to be increasing our profit by 700%.

0:51:210:51:26

However, she is a good tenant, we like her, we know her, we trust her.

0:51:260:51:31

-Yeah.

-We could get rid of Marie,

0:51:310:51:32

and then have someone who is a bad tenant that trashes it.

0:51:320:51:35

It's a hard one. From a business point of view,

0:51:350:51:38

everyone is saying, and the estate agents,

0:51:380:51:40

it seems that the smart thing to do

0:51:400:51:42

is get rid of her and get somebody else.

0:51:420:51:45

And if she has chosen to study and live in this size house...

0:51:450:51:49

..you have to pay for it.

0:51:510:51:53

I didn't make the rules up. That's life.

0:51:530:51:55

Giving me a headache just thinking about it.

0:51:550:51:58

After living in their tenants' homes,

0:52:140:52:16

it's time for the landlords to leave.

0:52:160:52:18

Before they go, they write their tenants a note.

0:52:220:52:24

What do you fancy for dinner tonight?

0:52:290:52:31

I think I fancy something like salmon.

0:52:310:52:33

Salmon and hollandaise sauce.

0:52:350:52:37

Back to our beautiful own bed.

0:52:370:52:39

I know. Back to no cold bedroom in the night.

0:52:390:52:43

It's going to be nice.

0:52:430:52:44

Are you two packed upstairs?

0:52:440:52:47

We are 100% worried about being kicked out.

0:52:470:52:49

I do hope that's not the case.

0:52:490:52:51

He did say he would take everything into consideration,

0:52:510:52:55

he knows how much money we have, he's seen our budget.

0:52:550:52:58

Hopefully, it doesn't happen.

0:52:590:53:01

# We are going home. #

0:53:010:53:03

What do you think it's going to be like, then?

0:53:030:53:06

Hopefully, all sorted.

0:53:060:53:08

Where's the dog?

0:53:110:53:12

Hello!

0:53:150:53:16

Oh, it's good to be home!

0:53:200:53:22

-Home at last.

-Yeah. There we go.

0:53:260:53:29

There's a note.

0:53:350:53:36

They have left us a note.

0:53:380:53:39

Dear Marie, thank you for letting us stay in your home for the last week.

0:53:440:53:48

I am now fully aware that the hallway

0:53:480:53:51

is going to cost a lot of money to repair.

0:53:510:53:55

This week has taught us that

0:53:550:53:57

a direct personal relationship might not work for every tenant.

0:53:570:54:01

We have set up a new system

0:54:010:54:03

where any maintenance problems can be reported online.

0:54:030:54:06

Please use it.

0:54:060:54:08

I am in the process of instructing workmen

0:54:080:54:10

to get their scaffolding out and put everything right

0:54:100:54:13

and then replaster the hallway.

0:54:130:54:15

Having spent some time in your flat, we feel that you need more storage.

0:54:160:54:20

We have found a few items of furniture

0:54:200:54:22

which will enable you to declutter the flat.

0:54:220:54:25

We have also removed the mattresses.

0:54:250:54:28

-Thank God!

-Yes!

-At last.

0:54:280:54:31

I am now fully aware this is a problem with the house

0:54:310:54:34

and nothing to do with you.

0:54:340:54:36

Phew!

0:54:360:54:37

I would like to give full assurance that your rent

0:54:370:54:40

will not increase for another two years.

0:54:400:54:42

This should hopefully give you enough time

0:54:430:54:45

to finish university and get a job.

0:54:450:54:47

Wow.

0:54:480:54:49

I didn't expect that, to be honest, you know that?

0:54:510:54:54

This means so much more than anything he could have done.

0:54:540:54:56

Just to come home and know that it's still our home.

0:54:560:54:59

For the next two years, at least.

0:54:590:55:02

We are safe.

0:55:020:55:03

Yeah.

0:55:030:55:05

We could have evicted Marie.

0:55:050:55:07

But after spending a week in the house,

0:55:070:55:09

I do think there's times when certainly, you can...

0:55:090:55:12

you can not charge as much rent as you possibly could,

0:55:120:55:15

just to maybe reward your tenant because they are a long-term tenant.

0:55:150:55:18

Handles.

0:55:180:55:20

-What's that for?

-To stop the slugs getting in.

0:55:230:55:26

It does feel warmer in this front room.

0:55:270:55:30

This was always the coldest room.

0:55:300:55:31

Now we have done this,

0:55:310:55:33

I could go in and say to Sharon, something is wrong.

0:55:330:55:36

It's a lot easier to talk to them now we have been through this.

0:55:360:55:39

-Yeah, definitely.

-And got to know them a bit better.

-Yeah.

0:55:390:55:42

Oh.

0:55:440:55:46

-There's another wardrobe.

-Whoa!

0:55:460:55:48

-We've got more space.

-Oh, look, we've got side tables as well.

0:55:480:55:51

-Oh, fantastic.

-Sweet!

0:55:510:55:52

Chris, he's certainly earned my respect.

0:55:540:55:56

He's gone back to work, which I think is fabulous.

0:55:560:55:58

With a bad back like he's got,

0:55:580:56:00

a lot of people would drag that out. Well, he hasn't.

0:56:000:56:02

Wow.

0:56:020:56:04

-I think it's cleaner now than when we left it.

-What happened?

0:56:040:56:07

I would like to see Chris and Courtney get their own little house.

0:56:070:56:10

I always think children are much better with a little garden.

0:56:100:56:13

I think they will manage it.

0:56:150:56:17

I think they will move on and move up.

0:56:170:56:18

They are certainly not sitters on their laurels.

0:56:180:56:21

It's very easy, as a landlord, to completely detach yourself

0:56:210:56:24

from your property, and not even to think about

0:56:240:56:26

what it will be like to live there.

0:56:260:56:28

Got a splashback.

0:56:280:56:29

Every six months, I'm going to have a survey go out to all my tenants,

0:56:300:56:34

just asking them, are you happy with the house, are there any problems?

0:56:340:56:37

Because it might be that I've got other properties

0:56:370:56:40

where there's tenants in there

0:56:400:56:41

and there's big issues, but they're scared to say.

0:56:410:56:43

This thing that we all want to just throw them out on the street,

0:56:450:56:48

it's just nonsense. What we want is longevity of tenancy.

0:56:480:56:51

The way you get longevity of anything,

0:56:510:56:53

be it tenants or relationships, yeah,

0:56:530:56:56

is to make an effort with one another and compromise.

0:56:560:56:59

It's strange, being home again.

0:56:590:57:00

-It's nice.

-It is nice. I've missed it.

0:57:000:57:03

Just being able to understand tenants better,

0:57:030:57:06

I'll actually be a better landlord.

0:57:060:57:08

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.