Ross McColl is not your average portfolio landlord. He is 36 years old and with his brother runs one of the South East’s largest PRS property operations which includes some 300 properties, a lettings agency and an in-house property management team.

Trading under the Link Property name, McColl and his brother took over the operation from their mother ten years ago, subsequently growing it into a large operator within the Medway region.

McColl initially worked in the city as trader for Citibank but the allure of taking on his mother’s business proved too strong, albeit after finishing a Masters in Finance course.

Despite the challenges of running a large portfolio, you’ll hear few complaints from young CEO, with only the looming challenges of the government’s EPC upgrade scheme really irking him (read more about his comments on this here).

His mother now divides her time between Guernsey and Tenerife but McColl is busy growing the business including buying more houses – which tend to be Victorian stock at the cheaper end of the market in his quest for yield – as well as launching and growing a burgeoning temporary accommodation business.

“We have been lucky because some of our houses are in Swale, which covers the area around Sittingbourne and the Isle of Sheppey, that we bought there ten years ago for £60,000 or £70,000 and that are now worth 200,000,” he says.

“My mum bought a wide range of properties from one-beds to detached houses with 20 acres, although we’ve sold off some of the latter because the big properties tend not to make any money – 3% if you’re lucky.

“We’ve tried to focus our portfolio an hour from where Link Property is based [in Thanet] not only because of the economies of scale but also because, due to our infrastructure being in Medway, we can get anywhere quickly.

“I know other people spread themselves thinner across the UK and get agencies in to help, but because we have our own in-house team we can bring our costs down – and that means we can match the higher net returns that people buying property up north can bring in but keep our portfolio local.”

Temporary growth

McColl spotted the opportunity within the temporary accommodation sector six years and has set about expanding this as councils have sought to place vulnerable tenants such as those leaving prison and people evicted from PRS properties.

“During the pandemic the client group was very challenging as they were all anti-social tenants and similar. That’s because no one was being evicted for rent arrears following the eviction ban, plus we couldn’t do weekly or two-weekly property inspections,” he says.

“On the other hand, we were able to stay open during that time because were were signed off as key workers.”

“The temporary accommodation business is growing really fast – and continues to grow in the SE corridor as landlords avoid riskier tenants and these people turn to temporary accommodation, so it’s boomed in past few years – but it’s not for the faint hearted.”

2 COMMENTS

  1. Well done LandlordZone.

    In one article you complain that the BBC is joining the anti-landlord movement – then you feature a city trader with 300+ properties (a double-whammy of hate there) – nothing like feeding them all with ammunition is there.

    How about focussing on the tens of thousands of NORMAL landlords with 1 or 2 rental properties, earning a tiny bit of extra money to put on their poor pensions.

    That’s the type of story the industry needs to keep pumping out – while keeping well clear of the portfolio investor image.

  2. Thanks landlord-man – noted! We try and keep a balance on reporting about landlords with a few properties and those with larger portfolios as we have a diverse readership! But I take your point about reminding Ministers and policy makers that millions of people rely on their BTL properties for their pension pots. Nigel

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