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Student Landlord - Investor Interview

Kelly Lemon talks with student landlord Carolyn Uphill

Punitive, unfair on all landlords  wanting to buy in or sell out of the market and devastating for highly geared landlords. Landlords are angry and bitterly disappointed in what they had assumed would be a business friendly government.” Carolyn Uphill is perhaps better placed than many to assess the implications the government changes are having on an industry that in her words is feeling ‘got at’. As chairman of the National Landlords Association (NLA) and a portfolio landlord herself, Carolyn is experiencing first-hand an industry that is changing in more ways than one.  

Like many investors, Carolyn and her husband invested in property as a way to boost their pension and at the age of 60 her portfolio is delivering what it promised; an income. However, Carolyn has never seen it as a ‘passive’ investment and her success as a landlord is perhaps down to her success in business before she even invested in property.

“I graduated in Law from Manchester University and I then had a 30-year career at the helm of my own Construction Equipment Manufacturing Company. The combination of legal skills, business acumen and understanding of the construction industry was a really sound footing for refurbishing houses in poor repair and developing them into a portfolio which meets the needs of our clients/tenants and has kept them all fully occupied since we started to invest.”

Carolyn started her property investment journey over a decade ago whilst running her business. “We bought our first student HMO in 2003 after a conversation with a friend who worked at the university alerted us to the demand and potential good returns on shared houses let to students. The idea of dipping our toe into the water with a tenant group who would not be ‘forever’ tenants also appealed, to see whether running a buy to let business was for us.”

Carolyn and her husband decided HMOs and property investment in general was for them and they have since built their portfolio and now own and manage four student HMOs in Manchester and three single lets in and around Stockport. They are very hands-on with Carolyn focusing on the admin, although she admits she is a rather good grouter, and her husband on the refurbishment side of the business. Increasing legislation in the sector has meant more paperwork for landlords and Carolyn’s decision to run her portfolio as a business has served her well.

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