Landlord offers two-bedroom flat in King's Cross to homeless for free over Christmas
PUBLISHED: 14:03 20 December 2017 | UPDATED: 15:21 20 December 2017
Laurence Lameche, who now runs a property business but was formerly homeless himself, is looking for a single person, couple or family in need of somewhere to stay during the festive period
The owner of a successful London property business, who was once homeless himself, is offering one of his vacant lets – a spacious, £2000-a-month flat near King’s Cross station – free of charge to someone in need this Christmas.
“Whether someone needs a home for a few nights, a week or a month, I want to give them a roof over their head and help them get back on their feet,” explains Laurence Lameche, 39.
He says that the idea first struck him while attending a Phil Collins concert in November this year.
“One of his songs is ‘Another Day In Paradise’. I really listened to the words; ‘She calls out to the man on the street, Sir, can you help me? It’s cold and I’ve nowhere to sleep’ and it made me think about homelessness.”
The lyrics struck a particular chord with Laurence, as when he first moved to London himself, in the winter of 1997-98, he couldn’t afford to pay the deposit to rent a flat, and found himself living in his car while he looked for work.
“I came to London to make something of myself and get on the property ladder. But I applied to loads of jobs in the daytime, and even though one offered me employment, they said ‘Where do you live?’
“When I said ‘In my car in a car park’, they sort of laughed, and told me to come back when I had a proper address.”
Laurence then approached a number of landlords, but they were unwilling to rent to him while he was unemployed.
“Luckily I met this very kind, retired landlord, with lots of properties in London, who let me live in one while I found work.”
It is this generosity that has given Laurence the idea to help a single person, couple or family who are currently homeless or in a vulnerable situation.
Laurence has advertised the property, which normally rents for around £2000-per-month, via a Facebook post, in which he gives viewers a tour of the two bedrooms, with super king size beds that can be split into two singles, bathroom and kitchen.
“I’ve had lots of people contact me, telling me where some homeless people are sleeping in the streets, so tonight and over the next few nights I’m going to go out and speak to them. I’m also going to get in touch with charities.
“What I would love to do is to help inspire other landlords and other property owners, who might have a property empty over Christmas, to do the same.
“A lot of properties are empty during this period – it’s a tough time to rent as most people have settled.”
“I’d love to continue it in the future. Maybe we could start up a movement or some sort of organisation to carry this on.”
As well as aiming to help the homeless, Laurence is keenly aware of the difficulties faced by young people in London and across the country trying to get on the property ladder.
“When I came to London it took me many, many years to save up for a deposit, and it’s increasingly tough for young people.”
He’s written a book, available on Amazon, called ‘How I Bought 3 London Properties for a Football Ticket’ which he hopes will pass on some of what he’s learned in the business.
“My favourite game as a child was Monopoly,” he tells me. “I always wanted to own properties, but I thought it was impossible. Hopefully this will help educate people how they can buy a house with little money, or when the banks won’t lend to them.”