meet the rental professional who is doing his part to…

First of all, can you tell us a bit about yourself and your background in the real estate industry?

I served in the Coldstream Guards [before entering property]. I was involved in the renewable energy sector before starting a cold business in the rental business. G8 Property has now been in existence for seven years.

We know you’ve done an amazing job for veterans with G8 Homes for Heroes – can you tell us more?

I arrived at work one day and there was a homeless man sleeping in the parking lot of my office. I thought nothing of it, went into the office, turned on the lights etc, made a tea and asked if he wanted to come and warm up before the staff arrived. We sat talking for a while before I realized I served with him in Bosnia.

It was such a shame that he ended up in this situation, but I attributed it to not having support after leaving the army. Many boys suffer in one way or another, but there is no help for them. With that, I paid her rent personally, I bought her a new set of clothes and toiletries. I also helped him with his mental health. It was all great and he did really well. But when Covid hit he couldn’t handle the isolation and being alone and he took his own life.

There was another guy I helped after he was discharged from the forces after having a heart attack. We cared for him for seven years to the point where his health deteriorated so badly that we really needed help from other agencies, but the local authorities just weren’t interested. I then spent the next year complaining to anyone who would listen, for help from this guy.

It wasn’t until he fell through a glass shower door that he ended up in hospital and it was reported. While waiting for an ambulance to take him to hospital, he suffered another stroke. Since then, over 15 different agencies have been involved in his care and triage, and I’m happy to say he is doing very well. All that hard work was paid for by myself on time and supporting it. I even paid for my staff to sit with him so he had someone to talk to.

We also receive homeless women veterans. Most recent – got a call on a Saturday night that there was a veteran (female) sleeping outside the station. As I was about to pick her up, my wife but together a women’s toiletry bag with a towel (something I wouldn’t have thought of)

Dan Jarvis [the Labour MP for Barnsley Central since 2011, the current Shadow Minister for Justice and a former British army officer] has been very supportive over the years. He even sent veterans to our office to see if there was a way to help. He came to my office to highlight the issue of homelessness among veterans, when I had some artwork painted on the side of my desk. It went viral on social media with over 162,000 shares and thousands of comments.

What more can industry and government do to ensure that veterans of the military do not end up homeless?

It’s great that since it was first reported about the work I did with veterans, other real estate investors have offered rooms and houses for free for a period of time. However, it is very rare and spaced. But I continued to support them personally without the help of outside agencies. I don’t think the government has any idea of ​​the seriousness of the situation and the burden that ex-veterans carry in their daily personal lives.

Are there potential jobs/employment opportunities in the real estate world for ex-military?

I have a number of companies that are willing to offer jobs to veterans, but it has to be much bigger than what is offered. I was talking to Mark Billingham [a former SAS solider and star of Channel 4’s SAS: Who Dares Wins] and he has a contract of employment on the railroads. He is very proactive in helping veterans and also said that the work I have done is fantastic.

How do you see the market now? And where do you see it being in a year?

My company runs many HMOs and we know the market well. The only problem for us is that we can’t get enough individual rentals, we have now been fully booked for over two years and as soon as we get them they are rented out within hours. We have a waiting list that is only growing. I think the investment market will almost come to a standstill with the current mortgage lending situation.

Are you concerned about the impact that rental reform, when it is finally introduced, could have on the rental industry?

No, not at all, things have changed a lot over the years and will continue to change, it’s about managing the changes and working with them.

Are you ever mistaken for Craig Phillips, the first Big Brother winner who is also involved in the real estate industry?

At first, yes, but now I think pretty much everyone in the industry knows who I am and the work I do.

Outside of work and your charitable activities, what do you do to relax?

I love going to log cabins in Yorkshire with my wife and dog (Daisy). We like to walk. I’m going this weekend and bringing my branch manager (to discuss work and plan for the future).

*You can read more about the G8 Homes for Heroes initiative here.

About Eleanor Blackburn

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