Meet Michael Lawson, a 39-year-old who proudly claims the title of Fife's biggest landlord. His family has cultivated a unique approach to property investment, focusing exclusively on homes to let in three strategically chosen postcodes in Scotland's eastern county. Growing up, Michael observed his parents master the art of buying, refurbishing, and refinancing properties—a skill that has become a booming industry today.
In a time where property gurus charge a premium to impart such knowledge, Michael's parents simply saw recycling cash as the logical and scalable way forward. "Mum and Dad would always be taking me along to renovation projects to help scrape walls and sweep up after the tradesmen. We are not from money, so what they achieved was all the more inspiring," he reflects.
Following in his parents' footsteps, Michael has built a portfolio exceeding 70 properties through 25 years of dedicated family effort. His parents still own some properties separately, but there's a plan in motion for Michael to eventually acquire them, ensuring the continuity of long-term tenants' residency.
Highlighting the longevity of his tenants' stay, some have called Michael's properties home for an impressive 15 years. His journey as a buy-to-let investor began at the age of 21, right after leaving university and joining a banking graduate scheme. His first property, purchased for £75,000, remains in his possession. Michael recalls, "At the weekends, I had a job for a marketing agency doing events. I scrimped and saved up the £7,500 deposit."
Renting it out immediately for £495 per month, Michael found himself making a healthy profit as interest rates dropped, and his mortgage dwindled to less than £100 per month. A sudden job loss prompted a move to London, but the bustling capital didn't resonate with him for the long term. Consequently, he redirected his focus to buying more properties in Scotland, amassing around 12 within five years.
The post-financial crash era proved opportune for Michael as plummeting house prices allowed him to secure lucrative deals. However, a job opportunity led him to Dubai, where he has resided for the past eight years, assisting American universities in recruiting students from across Africa, the Middle East, and Europe. While in Dubai, his buy-to-let
"In the Tightrope of Scottish Rent Policy: Michael Lawson's Perspective on Modern Landlording"
Navigating the intricate landscape of Scotland's rental market, Michael Lawson shares his unique journey as a prominent landlord in the region. Surrounded by friends who ventured into trades, their unwavering support has been a cornerstone for Michael's success. While his parents retired in their 50s, his mother found a new role as the lettings manager, underscoring the family's continued commitment to the property business.
The Lawsons' enterprise has flourished to the point where they once concurrently managed six property renovations. To enhance customer service, a recent addition to their team is dedicated solely to addressing maintenance issues promptly. Michael reflects on his earlier experiences in a less-than-ideal shared flat in London, emphasizing the commitment to providing high-quality homes. With an investment of £48,000 to achieve an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rating of C and the installation of new kitchens, their properties exude a new-build aesthetic.
Rejecting the stereotype of indifferent landlords, Michael asserts, "I rent to a lot of mates, and rent is so much these days that tenants should be expecting a good service." He condemns outdated practices of dodgy landlords, asserting that the modern landlord is a business operator. For those not willing to approach landlording as a business, he suggests investing in an index fund.
Contemplating future investments, Michael awaits decisions from the Scottish government. He critiques the rent cap imposed by Nicola Sturgeon, labeling it as "foolish and shortsighted." Under this policy, rent rises are limited to 3% on existing tenancies, a move that Michael believes has unintended consequences, potentially forcing landlords to sell their properties.
Michael challenges the negative perception of landlords, emphasizing his commitment to providing quality housing to the community. He bemoans the vilification of being a landlord by the government and expresses concern about the increasing number of tenants facing eviction from other landlords. Offering advice to aspiring landlords, he warns against entering the market without substantial investment, suggesting a minimum of 20 to 30 properties through a limited company to make the endeavor worthwhile amid rising costs and policy challenges.
"In conclusion, Michael Lawson's journey in the realm of property management reflects not only a family tradition but also a modern approach to being a responsible and forward-thinking landlord. His commitment to providing high-quality homes, investing in property improvements, and maintaining a customer-centric focus sets him apart in an industry often tainted by stereotypes of neglectful landlords.
The challenges posed by government policies, particularly the 3% rent cap imposed by Nicola Sturgeon, have led Michael to critically assess the landscape for future investments. His concerns about the unintended consequences of such regulations highlight the delicate balance landlords must strike between economic viability and providing quality housing.
Despite the hurdles, Michael remains proud of his role in the community, debunking the negative narrative surrounding landlords. His dedication to offering a positive renting experience, coupled with a keen business mindset, serves as a testament to the evolving nature of the property rental market.
As the Scottish government continues to shape rental policies, Michael Lawson's story becomes a microcosm of the broader challenges and opportunities faced by landlords in navigating a complex and ever-changing regulatory environment. Through resilience, adaptability, and a commitment to professionalism, he stands as an example of a landlord who not only succeeds in the business but does so with a genuine concern for the well-being of his tenants and the community at large."