Whoever said landlords were evil property moguls hogging all the property should have been watching Channel 4 last night.
A landlord who went from sleeping on a park bench as a boy with his mum to building a £25m property empire has given away one of his houses for free.
Marco Robinson was the focus of a heartwarming Channel 4 documentary last night, How to Get a House for Free, as the 49-year old tried to find the most deserving recipient of a £120,000 three-bedroom flat in Preston, Lancashire.
There were 8,000 applicants over eight months and the programme focused on three of the main candidates.
First there was 48-year-old Jo, a visually-impaired emergency services dispatcher who works 60 hours a week, doesn’t earn enough for a deposit and worries that if she loses her job she will be unable to pay rent.
Viewers also met 18-year old single mum Holly who lives in social housing with mould on the floor and walls and often goes hungry so her newborn daughter can eat.
Lastly there was the Ali family, a dad and his two sons who had fled Syria but have had their asylum application rejected in the UK and are homeless while it is being reconsidered. None of them can get jobs while their immigration status is being looked at.
Robinson meets each candidate over the hour, expressing his wish to “give people a leg up instead of a handout.”
With his decision made, he goes to meet each person, starting with Jo.
She didn’t get the house, but instead Robinson offers to pay for a deposit on a new home.
He then meets the Alis to say he can’t give them the home while their asylum application is under consideration but did offer to put them up temporarily in one of his other properties.
Finally he goes to see Holly and delivers the good news that she is to be given a free home for her and her daughter, which will mean living closer to her mum and making it easier for her to go to college to get an education.
Robinson said: “I didn’t have the easiest of upbringings, at one point my mother and I were forced to sleep on a park bench, but through extremely hard work I have been fortunate enough to reach a position where I now own a number of properties around the world.
“Now I want to give something back to someone who needs my help and would love to find someone for whom receiving this flat would be a life-changing event.”
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