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By Stephanie Taylor

Co-founder, Rent 2 Rent Success


Three creative approaches for increasing your property portfolio

When I became interested in property, I didn’t have a large amount of capital that I could invest. This meant that I needed to find the right strategies to help me get my business started.

A lot of people find themselves in the same position at the moment. Deposits are high, yet mortgages are at some of their lowest rates. And there is an influx of property for sale just now due to the coronavirus backlog and the stamp duty changes.

So, whether you are building up your property portfolio, or considering getting into the property market, you need to think long-term and use a variety of strategies.  


Let me share how I did it and offer some advice to get you started.

Rent to rent

The first strategy I used was to become a property manager for house shares. I would rent a property, take on the bills and put some work into making it a warm, comfortable home, and then rent to someone else.

I earnt profit from adding value to the property, allowing me to charge a higher rent than I was paying. This cashflow enabled me to save the funds for deposits to buy my own property.

It’s not really an investment strategy but an ethical way to make money from properties without buying them. Of course, you need to find landlords who are willing to allow you to sub-let the property and properties that could use some TLC so that you are adding value. 

To make it easier to find these kinds of properties, I founded Rent 2 Rent Success, connecting landlords with renters looking to start their property journey. And that’s the beauty of it ‒ you can get started without needing a big deposit saved. You can get started for the cost of renting a property. 

It’s all about creating beautiful, affordable homes people love to live in. Working ethically to add value for both tenants and landlords is the foundation of rent to rent.

Lease options

Typical buy-to-let deposits are around 30%, making them unaffordable when you are just starting out. Lease options are contracts which allow you to control a property with an option (and not an obligation) to buy it, on or before, a specified date at a specified purchase price. 

They are sometimes known as ‘no money down’ strategies because you can secure properties for as little as £1. 

Lease options are actually a combination of two agreements: the lease and the option. The lease is the agreement with the owner to rent out the property to tenants in return for a monthly payment. The option is the price agreed to buy the property at a later date, if you choose to.

A lease option typically involve the following four elements:

  • an option fee, also known as a ‘consideration’, that you pay upfront

  • your monthly payment (the lease)

  • an agreed purchase price (the option)

  • an agreed purchase-by date (you can purchase before this date)

Now, you may be asking: Why would a seller agree to sell their property and then wait years to be fully paid for it? 

The most common reason is that a seller is in negative equity, so the property has reduced in value since they bought it yet they still have a mortgage to pay off. If they sold their property now, they would still owe more to their mortgage lender than they receive from the sale, leaving them out of pocket. By agreeing a lease option, they get their mortgage covered which can help them return to positive equity. 

Another common reason is that sometimes the seller wants to move more quickly than the standard property sale process allows, such as for work relocation.

Lease options can be ideal if the conditions are right for buyer and seller. Unfortunately, this can make them hard to find and settle on an agreement. Keep an eye out for anyone looking to move quickly and/or who may be in negative equity as they are most likely to benefit from a lease option.

Exchange with delayed completion 

An exchange with delayed completion is similar to a lease option. You contract with a seller to buy their property, on or before, a specified date at a specified purchase price. Unlike lease options, however, you have an obligation rather than an option to buy it by the agreed date. 

Let’s take a worked example:

A couple decided to start selling off their small portfolio as they approached retirement, but wanted to avoid the usual hassle of selling. 

We, the buyer, agreed on a purchase price they were happy with, in this case £160,000, and a five year completion date. We paid an option fee of £16,000 up front (although this can be as little as £1) and agreed to monthly payments of £320, leaving a balance of £124,800 after five years.

In this example, the couple got a lump sum and predictable monthly income, as well as a definite sale price and date. We, the buyer, benefitted from being able to rent out a property, generate income, and eventually purchase the property without a 30% deposit or any of the usual hassle. A win-win.

Using these three approaches, you could start your own property portfolio with less money than you thought you would need.

Rent to rent provides a quick and easy way to get started in the property market, allowing you to develop a portfolio of property assets and build your reputation.

A good track record of managing and renting properties will then make it easier for you to access traditional mortgage finance. And once you have some cashflow from your properties, you can engage in exchange with delayed completion to expand your portfolio even further.

*Stephanie Taylor is co-founder of HMO Heaven and Rent 2 Rent Success. Stephanie launched Rent 2 Rent Success to help professionals who want to get involved in property, but feel stuck as they’re worried they don’t have enough time, money or knowledge to get started.

You can view her YouTube channel here and find her podcast here. She can also be found on Instagram.

Her book - ‘Rent to Rent Success – Our ethical 6-step system to get started in property without buying it’ - is being published this month.

Poll: Do you still plan to increase your portfolio this year?


  • Vanessa Warwick

    A few considerations:

    Rent to Rent only works legitimately on freehold houses. Most leasehold flats have clauses prohibiting of sub-letting.

    Lenders do not like properties associated with lease options and refuse to lend on them. That means, that , when you come to completion, you need to finalise the sale with cash or bridging finance.

    There are many, many pitfalls associated with all of the above strategies, and it's worrying how little these are mentioned.

    The "Grand Daddy" of lease options, Rick Otton, who brought this strategy to the UK and trained most of the people training it, was fined the largest corporate fine in Australian history for deceptive marketing - £12 million.

    It was also found that he had only ever done one lease option himself - very odd wouldn't you say? You can buy a property for a £1 consideration, yet he hadn't done it himself!

    I can only conclude that training people in these strategies is easier/more profitable than actually doing them ...


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