TV star, portfolio landlord and author Immanuel Ezekiel tells LandlordZONE how he’s been dealing with the effects of the pandemic, and why he’s annoyed by the response of some insurance firms to the crisis.
Few residential landlords in the UK have become famous enough to be recognised on the street but Immanuel Ezekiel can claim to be one of them.
Renown has come from both his best-selling property investment book as well as his appearance last year on Channel 5 TV show Rich House, Poor House, where two families with vastly different backgrounds swap their lives and homes for a week.
Often described as a self-made millionaire, Ezekiel made his money the hard way initially building up a mortgage broker business before selling it and then moving into the private and social housing markets.
This includes HMOs but also student, single and professional lets, hotels and more recently property developments. He’s also well known for working with his tenants to help them purchase their rented homes via ‘rent to buy’ schemes.
Ezekiel says life has not been the same since the Coronavirus lockdown began and that he misses his busy schedule of face-to-face meetings and coffee catch-ups with contacts, and that he’s not a huge fan of Zoom.
But the Coronavirus crisis has affected his working life in more serious ways as the pandemic lockdown has led some of his tenants to struggle financially.
“I contacted all my tenants and said that if they are suffering financial hardship we’ll work with them and come up with a plan; the only thing we ask is that they prove their hardship is genuine and have attempted to access all the government help available to them be it grants or Universal Credit payments,” he says.
“If they need help then we work out a formula with them to reduce the rent now, but ask that they pay the rent back later.”
“I think it’s more difficult when you’re a portfolio landlord than if you’ve got just one property, because you’ve got to work with your community of tenants to get the best outcome, which can vary from sector to sector,” he says.
“The Coronavirus crisis is likely to have two effects on the private rental market – landlords will begin downsizing their portfolios, and more tenants will want HMO accommodation as they seek out the most affordable property to save money.”
Ezekiel says one issue he’s not happy about is that some insurers have tried to wriggle out of paying landlords when they have claimed against their landlord insurance policies, with many insurers citing the three-month evictions ban as a reason.
“I don’t think they’re acting in the spirit of the policies that landlords took out, and are using clauses within them to their own advantage.
“It’s just another example of there so many different issues out there for landlords at the moment; you’ve just go to be nimble on your feet.”