15:44 PM, 3rd May 2016, About 7 years ago
Having raised over £500,000 to take West Bromwich Mortgage Company to the Court of Appeal it has been suggested by numerous Property118 members that we should become a Landlords Association.
Sentiment appears to be that a group with courage to take legal action against rogue mortgage lenders and poor decisions made by Government is seriously needed in the UK Private Rented Sector.
Subject to levels of interest this is something that we are willing to consider further.
Towards the bottom of this article you will find an expression of interest form. The ideas we are considering are:-
The growth of Property118 has been tremendous over the last five years as can be seen from the statistics below. This year we are projecting in excess of 5 million page views.
Property118 Growth – 1st Jan 2011 to 31st Dec 2015
Property118 Stats – 1st Jan 2016 to 10th April 2016
Whilst there is no guarantee that we will convert Property118 into a Landlords Association it is something we are seriously considering. A decision on whether to progress will be made based on the responses to this article. Here are some of our thoughts to date ….
The existing Landlord Associations have a track record of being shy of litigation.
Property118 has a track record of raising funds and seeking justice through the Judicial System. Ombudsmen and lobbying have their place but rarely achieve much more than publicity for a particular cause. If we progress this ideas and Property118 Landlords Association is launched we may not always be successful in litigation but we will pick our battles wisely and ensure that in every case the minimum outcome will be far greater awareness of any issues affecting UK landlords which to choose to tackle.
Transparency is key. We are capitalists at heart which means that we believe that success has to be rewarded; for our members, for ourselves and for those who back us financially. We have discussed the possibility of implementing a similar structure to that of Shelter and becoming a registered charity but we do not feel this would be right in terms of our core objective for transparency.
Property118 already owns 26% of the shares in LettingSupermarket.com as well as having revenue sharing agreements with many of our website sponsors. If we were to create a Landlords Association we would do so whole heartedly. In other words, all of the existing business arrangements that Property118 has (which for the avoidance of doubt doesn’t include our private property portfolios) would be incorporated into the Landlords Association.
The founders of Property118 value the goodwill of the current business at £5 million. If we were to incorporate our existing business and transform it into a Landlords Association then we would want our members to own part of it and to be as financially committed to it’s success as we are. To achieve this shares could be sold. This initial share capital would be the foundations upon which Property118 Landlords Association is built and would also provide us with confidence that we are doing the right thing.
If we decide to go ahead our first objective would be to recruit 50,000 paying members within 5 years. This would produce circa £6 million a year of revenue, i.e. £10 per month per member X 50,000 members =£500,000 per month.
To enable members to own a stake we could initially offer 1% of shares via a crowdfunding platform for £50,000. The minimum investment could be just £10. Over-funding could then be considered, e.g. if there is enough interest to raise £500,000 then 10% of the shares could be made available and so on. Whilst such a structure would decrease our personal shareholdings it would also provide funds to facilitate a more rapid growth in terms of membership recruitment.
To provide some assurance to both members and investors that we wouldn’t simply draw all profits from the business ourselves we would be prepared to commit to capping all directors emoluments to the projected 2016 earnings level of £225,000. That would be the maximum that all Directors collectively could take out of the business in terms of salary, bonuses etc. Any additional income for the Directors would then rank on par with that of the shareholders from dividends.
Property118 currently operates on a profit margin of circa 35%. Assuming this figure is maintained and assuming the membership target of 50,000 is achieved then shareholders earnings would be £2.1 million per annum. This equates to gross annual earnings per £10 share of £4.20.
Now some people may say that a 42% ROI based on an initial target of recruiting just 50,000 members from a pool of what is said to be around two million landlords just isn’t right and that the returns are too high. Well that’s capitalism folks. Once this target is achieved the value per share will not be £10 either!
Some will ask, what if Property118 doesn’t grow and what if Mark Alexander were to die, so I will address those points now. I post less than 2% of all comments and articles on Property118, the rest are posted by our members. On that basis, why should Property118 stop growing, are landlords likely to face no challenges in the future? Nobody is irreplaceable or has a monopoly on good ideas. Nothing that has been achieved by Property118 has been achieved by one person alone. It has been the vision and engagement of a growing community of landlords that has brought us to this point. The question for us all now is this; where should we take it from here?
Membership growth is projected to be achieved organically, as has been the case for page views to date. This is because existing members share their interactions with Property118 and their positive experiences with other landlords. Momentum is continuing to accelerate, as can be seen from the stats, and we have every reason to believe this will gain further pace once we have proper funding and infrastructure to campaign and appeal against other injustices against landlords and back our challenges with legal action as neccessary and commercially viable. Furthermore, a broad, growing and solid financial and membership base combined with increasing revenue streams will provide additional opportunities to fund increased PR and brand awareness campaigns. Given that there are believed to be around 2 million landlords in the UK we would like to think the initial objectives we are considering should be realistic. What do you think?
Existing monetisation projects will continue unchanged, save for the fact that all income and profits will accrue to the new company.
We would also apply for EIS relief on shares. This has significant tax benefits – details here >>> https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/the-enterprise-investment-scheme-introduction
At last – a #landlords‘ union!! EXACTLY what we need! https://t.co/qr7Uvqpyft @IamALandlord @jamesalexandere
— Mandy Thomson (@lodgersite) May 4, 2016
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23:20 PM, 4th May 2016, About 7 years ago
Another fund raiser / selling of shares? Will this be a good horse to back, or indeed a "dead" one as you called it; realised you were flogging a dead horse, as you told me regarding your property118 portal that was going to be the bees knees. Not so (though all those charts were pointing up then as well, and you managed to lose 74k of other people's money - just like that.
Not a nice thought that here I was struggling to make ends meet and believing in you when all you wanted was to play around with other people's hard-earned money, carelessly losing them half of their investments in a matter of months and then easing their loss with assurance that at least they had 50% tax relief!
I'm so angry I was taken in, so you could fund your lifestyle in the sun, and I can only express sorrow for people who lost so much more, those who had invested £20,000 / £25,000, perhaps persuaded even a little by my assurance in that naive article I wrote about investing in that awful idea of a portal. I don't think it was ever more than a whim of yours, and to use other people's money was an awful thing to do when you had no intention to see it through, though you must be addicted to this effective way of getting your hands on huge amounts of cash.
The judicial review was only made possible by the two landlords; I remember you expressed that it was a bad idea to fight C24 in the courts because of the hard graft of "West Brom", also funded by other people's money. Well, you've changed your tune seeing these two landlords spearheading the way and what they have achieved, which you now claim as your own credit.
I'm sorry I put my faith in you, thinking you were a champion for the little guys. You're not. I was warned, too late, what a greedy fraudster you are. You'll continue to get away with it, under the guise of helping people. I only hope people wise up to you before they lose their savings through misplaced faith. I am saddened by your actions and your lack of conscience. Give back the money to the people you fleeced - you know, the other half of the money you didn't lose that's "sitting in the bank doing nothing," as you told me earlier this week.
Mark Alexander - Founder of Property118
23:48 PM, 4th May 2016, About 7 years ago
Whoa there Connie, you haven't lost a penny and yet you're attacking me so viciously. I don't deserve that and many of your remarks are both defamatory and libel!
Of the £150,000 invested into the portal only half was spent before the government moved the goal posts. The funds most certainly haven't been used to fund my lifestyle, they were spent exactly in accordance with the business plan, on TV advertising, social media advertising and the development of the portal functionality. The rest of the funds are still sitting in the company bank account whilst the business is in hibernation.
If we were to do nothing further and end up liquidating the company, with the 50% tax rebate due to the SEIS tax relief we secured for investors, you will have lost nothing.
Furthermore, has it not occurred to you that we have been talking to Seedrs about the prospect of building the Landlords Association in that company in order to reduce formation costs, utilise paper losses and to enable our investors to retain an interest in a viable ongoing business which has the prospect to rise from the ashes like the Phoenix off the back of all the tax changes that killed the business model of the portal?
Your anger and criticisms are wholly unjustified and misdirected. Do you honestly think we could have foreseen clause 24, the increases in Stamp Duty and the knock on effects to the portal of the business model? If we had, do you honestly think we would have gone to all that effort and if so for what?
Do you have any idea of how much time and effort went unpaid?
You do realise that we stopped paying Directors salaries back in February don't you?
Please redirect your anger and frustrations at the Chancellor. Meanwhile we will continue to do what we truly believe is right for all landlords, especially our members, you included.
With regards to the Judicial Review, who do you think it was that backed Chris and Steve so heavily? Who do you think recruited the inner-circle of the campaign group and inspired all the research? Just count up the number of articles on Property118 supporting that campaign. Talk to Chris and Steve about how many of those who pledged funds came via Property118. Might I add that every piece of work I've done on that project has been unpaid.
I await your apology.
1:16 AM, 5th May 2016, About 7 years ago
Reply to the comment left by "Mark Alexander" at "04/05/2016 - 22:57":
East Midlands Property Owners or EMPO for short. We have an EXPO starting at 10am this morning if you can get your private jet here in time - only kidding
1:19 AM, 5th May 2016, About 7 years ago
As your investors are awaiting their apology.
In answer to your egotistical questions - of course, YOU, YOU, YOU, YOU, YOU - the BIG YOU ARE!
1:52 AM, 5th May 2016, About 7 years ago
"The founders of Property118 value the goodwill of the current business at £5 million."
I'd like to see how that would go down on Dragon's Den!
"To enable members to own a stake we could initially offer 1% of shares via a crowdfunding platform for £50,000."
If the members' share were closer to 100% than 1%, then I might start being remotely interested.
"Some will ask, what if Property118 doesn’t grow and what if Mark Alexander were to die, so I will address those points now. I post less than 2% of all comments and articles on Property118, the rest are posted by our members. On that basis, why should Property118 stop growing, are landlords likely to face no challenges in the future?"
If you started charging for membership of the forum, then I'd bet the entirety of my modest portfolio that you'd kill it stone dead overnight. I mean, it's quite a good little forum at the moment - but it's not that good!
"To provide some assurance to both members and investors that we wouldn’t simply draw all profits from the business ourselves we would be prepared to commit to capping all directors emoluments to the projected 2016 earnings level of £225,000."
Aww - it's very generous of you to virtually give your time away for free like that. What I don't get is what's in it for you? (Other than the supposed capital value of the remaining 450,000 shares, worth the princely sum of 'not £10' each).
Sarcasm aside, if we want to contribute to legal campaigns at the moment, then we can do it via crowdfunding, as has recently been demonstrated. I don't see what value a highly commercialised 'association' would add. And since the recent crowd funding campaign has only managed to raise a little over £100k in the past year, even though it has been entirely in the landlord community's self-interest to fund it, I'm not sure why you think the same community is suddenly going to start stumping up £6 million a year for this rather dubious-sounding scheme.
You'll be glad to hear that I disagree about it being like a pyramid scheme, though. At least pyramid schemes benefit a few people at the top - not just the one!
Mark Alexander - Founder of Property118
7:37 AM, 5th May 2016, About 7 years ago
Reply to the comment left by "Connie Cheuk" at "05/05/2016 - 01:19":
I am very sorry you feel that way.
I have sent you a text to ask when you will be free to talk on the telephone.
Clearly we need to talk.
Further to our telephone conversation a few weeks ago I spoke to Seedrs to ask why you hadn't been received your investor updates and they sent you an email with a copy to me so I know it was definitely sent. Did you receive it?
Your remarks are very hurtful and completely unjustified. Please allow me to at least speak with you on the telephone.
All the best
8:09 AM, 5th May 2016, About 7 years ago
Hi Connie. Im not sure what you've lost and maybe you have every right to feel angry, but as you are one of the 118'ers, and a valued one at that, why air your grievance in public? I don't see what Mark has done so wrong, indeed Im hugely impressed by his efforts on C24 and West Brom and am personally really pleased to have found and been a part of 118. Let him explain the situation privately as I don't think he's trying to rip anybody off. Please don't lose faith in 118, or the campaign. We need you!
Mark Alexander - Founder of Property118
8:42 AM, 5th May 2016, About 7 years ago
Moving on .....
I've decided that the idea of making the forum use exclusive to paying members wasn't a good idea. Thanks to all who convinced me of that, both on and offline.
The question that leaves though is how will new members get to hear about the benefits of paying membership. I have one idea but I need a lot more. What would make you want to become a paying member if you had only recently come across Property118?
The idea I have is that we can automate the creation of a series of follow up emails to new members explaining the benefits of paying membership. However, automated email can be a bit hit and miss these days due to aggressive email security designed to stop spammers.
The premiums are too small to justify a sales team, even a telephone based one, so we also need to think of other things.
Might Facebook and Google advertising work for example?
Any other thoughts would be greatly appreciated.
8:57 AM, 5th May 2016, About 7 years ago
Reply to the comment left by "Mark Alexander" at "04/05/2016 - 07:58":
The Landlord association I am connected to at the moment have a once yearly DD of about £70.
If 118 were to gain interest in setting up a similar arrangement here is an alternative offering to the one that you have outlined.
One of the reasons is that not everyone has a spare £50k that can be used for such a venture.
Not a lot in itself I know but a substantial amount to most Landlords I suspect.
1) instead of £50k make the initial investment / loan
Then £2001-3000 etc
This way most people would be able to get on and start supporting the organisation.
It may well be and I am not an expert that Type A shares and Type B shares are released.
Type A generate more returns per year and Type B a little less.
All shares would be transferable to a business partner wife spouse family member etc.
An opportunity to not take any profit and roll up the capital to buy more shares would be good.
Sales of shares could go to other " founding members" initially before being released elsewhere.
2) 118LLA Landlord association
Would have a library of the latest legal contracts available for paid members to utilise.
This would need to be monitored to incorporate the latest legislative changes and updated immediately.
I'm thinking ASTs Section 21s etc
Plus the usual templates for tenant checking etc etc
3) Any downloaded document needs to have the ability to be held in the members account.
So a member can refer to an AST if necessary some years later possibly.
4) A once yearly payment gets a small discount.
5) No political allegiance whatsoever, ever. We stand together united in a common cause.
6) Insurance of course !Public indemnity yes
7) Professional indemnity yes
8) Deals with B&Q etc yes
9) List of reputable trades people
10) Black list ? To be discussed.
Slippery Insurance companies that use every clause to avoid paying out
Solicitors Good bad ugly yes
In a former life I had access to a a similar list.
When a job came in we would check the list.
If a companies name came up as a bad payer for example we would simply ask for full Payment in advance! Simple.
11) A legal fees cover of £££!...
In the event of a Landlord having an issue with .. A management company....A leaseholder....An organisation ... Etc that member would have a level of protection.
12) Deposit protection...to be discussed.
Just a few points here to consider ...
Mark Alexander - Founder of Property118
9:10 AM, 5th May 2016, About 7 years ago
Reply to the comment left by "Richard Mann" at "05/05/2016 - 08:57":
Thank you for your feedback, very much appreciated.
On point one, my thoughts were that investors could buy any number of £10 shares. 500 investors at £10 each or 1 at £50,000 could work. So far, expressions of interest have been for amounts from £10 to £10,000. That's the beauty of a crowdfunding structure.
With regards to benefits, I like the idea of having recommended suppliers but I worry about blacklists as they can be deemed libel and defamatory. Is anybody really bothered about who the crooks are if there's a well supported list of good people to choose from? The other problem with blacklists is that rogue traders move around and change their names a lot so reputation is meaningless to them. In reality, not every business would be on the list. Also, such lists are already established with the likes of Trust a Trader etc. No point reinventing the wheel for the sake of it is there?
I do like the idea of legal fees insurance (a LOT!), that's definitely something we could look into further.
I think the core benefit of membership would have to be legal protection for landlords.