Rob Introduces Amy From Social Property Investment

Amy Varle from Social Property Investment

As a property investor or landlord, would you ever consider allowing a homeless person to live in one of your houses? Today, Rob and Amy discuss Amy’s background in social housing and look back to their first project together which saw a local housing allowance tenant placed, after a time of homelessness, in one of Rob’s properties.

Social Property With Amy Varle


Rob: Hello everyone, and welcome to Property Investments UK. Today, I’m very excited to introduce you to Amy. So Amy, everyone. Everyone, Amy.

Amy: Thank you for having me, Rob.

Rob: No problem at all. So in today’s video and throughout the next series of videos, we’re going to be looking primarily at Amy’s background and areas of expertise.

She’s got some fantastic experience in property and has worked in some great niches as well.

So, I’ll let Amy introduce herself and give a bit of an idea about her background; how she got started in property, and what she’s currently focusing on right now.

Amy: Thank you, Rob.

I’ve got a bit of an unusual background, really. I started way back in… Gosh, I was 16 or 17 when I first started working in the councils.

I’m 32 now, so I’ve got quite a lot of experience, working in social housing.

I spent around seven or eight years working for local authorities and I’ve worked for private companies too.

Rob: In property, or..?

Amy: Managing property and accommodation, primarily with more vulnerable tenant groups. Social property projects.

I’ve worked with asylum seekers and people with mental health problems. I’ve worked with children leaving care and with teenage mums.

You name it, we saw it all at the councils.

During one job I thought to myself, we’re seeing a huge increase in homelessness and we’ve got a huge lack of affordable housing.

I could also tell that the private rented sector had a huge amount to offer in terms of providing accommodation for a social marketplace. But, it was obvious, that the private sector was going to need some help in order to make those provisions.

So, what I’m trying to do is bring the skills I developed in the public sector over and apply them in the private sector. The idea is to try and make things a little bit easier and a bit more efficient for stakeholders, landlords and investors within the social property marketplace.

Rob: It’s a great mix as well because you come from a background where it’s the tenants and their needs that come first; in local authorities, councils and charities.

And now, working with property investors, landlords and investment companies – as you have been doing for a number of years – where profit is a big factor, you have that opportunity to try and strike a balance between those two worlds.

Amy: Absolutely. I see myself as a facilitator. I sit in the middle and try and bridge gaps between the public and private sector.

We all know the public sector works in one way and the private sector works in another way. That can be very, very frustrating; particularly if you’re a property investor and you’re used to working in a corporate or business environment where things can be very fast-paced.

It can be a real challenge to try and find ways to integrate the two sectors. So, as I say, I try to use my skill set, developed on both sides of the divide, to help support each side in their dealings with the other.

I’m trying to centralise the way things work. I’m trying to make the processes more efficient and effective, with better project outcomes for the tenants and for the investors – for everyone involved.

Rob: Fantastic. And that’s how Amy and I met.

Amy: Yes.

Rob: A couple of years or so ago, we had a property in north Manchester that was vacant and in need of tenant that matched the tenant profile we’d decided on for that property.

We’d had a few issues with previous tenants, for a whole range of different reasons.

We spoke to Amy, and Amy helped us find a very good tenant, who’s been in the house with their family now for a number of years.

Before moving in, this tenant had been homeless. But, they were a perfect fit for our property – from our point of view – and we’ve been very happy with how things have worked out.

It was Amy’s background that made this happen. It was because of Amy’s experience within those two worlds; the public and private sector, coming together nicely, to make this scenario possible.

Amy: Thank you. I think, with that particular example, a lot of landlords and investors might be quite surprised that your solution to the problem of an empty property with previous bad tenants was to house a homeless person.

Rob: They might find this a worrying option.

Amy: But, to hear from you that it worked out really well…

What I try to do is hold the hand of an investor or landlord a little bit through the process.

I explain things to them and try and put their minds at rest. There are strategies that can be put in place. There are methods for identifying the risks involved. With the right level of planning and understanding, together, we can achieve a successful outcome.

But, if a landlord goes into it blind, things can go wrong.

I wouldn’t advise landlords to go for LHA (local Housing Allowance) tenants and just hope for the best. It’s a very niche environment to work in. There are lots of regulations, lots of paperwork. And, of course, you will be dealing with tenants who might need a lot of support.

So, as a landlord or property investor, if you can find somebody to help out and give guidance you will be much better placed to see project success.

Rob: Definitely. I think it comes down to experience. I probably wouldn’t suggest this to newcomers to the industry.

Once you’ve got a few properties under your belt and you’re comfortable with a few different investment strategies and a few different tenant profiles then you’ll be better placed to try this if you so wanted.

But, investing in social property can definitely present a win-win situation.

As investors, we don’t need to avoid working with tenants who, for whatever reason, have found themselves homeless.

Coming Up

Amy has some fantastic experience in the field we’ve just been discussing. Over the next series of videos, she will be talking you through what she does and how she achieves it.

But, separate to that, Amy is also joining us at Property Investments UK, where she will be talking to experts in their respective fields and industries and bringing you what she learns from doing that.

If you’ve got any questions as the series progress, or if you want to help or support you with your property portfolio, drop us a message and either myself or Amy will be more than happy to help.

You can read more about Amy Varle’s journey in property by clicking here.

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