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Shared Accommodation: Planning and Regulations

HMO specialist operator Mike Frisby talks with editor Richard Bowser

As an experienced property investor/landlord Mike Frisby specialises in the HMO sector, with a well-established portfolio in Portsmouth, and is also the owner of a lettings agency looking after other people’s rental properties.

Mike previously worked in various marketing and strategy roles for Unilever and Diageo. He says he was fortunate enough to work on some highly regarded brands such as Guinness and Dove. But he was still in the corporate world when he started investing in property, and then in time that led to him running his own full-time property business.

I met with Mike recently at some of his current projects to gain insight into what he does to create successful shared accommodation properties and to learn more about the challenges of planning and regulation. Given that Mike lives in Surrey the obvious first question is ‘why Portsmouth’?

“I was previously investing in Guildford in student property and that has done well in terms of capital growth in the last 10 or so years but yields became quite low and so I researched locations where I could achieve higher yields and decided on Portsmouth. I bought quite a few around 12 or so years ago using the techniques at that time which enabled quick purchases but then the downturn occurred from 2008 so I gradually adapted my model towards the LHA tenant sector to achieve better rental returns. We worked with the local council, hostels and charities in respect of tenant supply but we had to really focus on providing a service to make it work profitably, so adapting the strategy more recently towards HMO property was not too difficult.

“From around five years ago I began to really focus on the HMO sector here in Portsmouth and we now have around 300 units (rooms) under management here with the majority being in my own portfolio. The strategy switch from the social housing sector was because I felt we were too reliant on it. With Universal Credit on the horizon, the forward income prospects were less certain and rents in that niche also stagnated due to government intervention.

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