Gen Z landlords are using the housing crisis as an influencing tool on TikTok. Is it working?

By Mason Berlinka

Published Mar 25, 2023 at 09:15 AM

Reading time: 3 minutes

Despite our apparent inability to operate a printer in the office, there appears to be a booming trend of videos on our FYPs showing gen Zers buying, flipping and renovating homes. The rental crisis and faltering market—aka a complete capitalist nightmare—is being made to look like an utterly effortless process online thanks to snappy editing, big personalities and the promise of success, which of course comes at a price.

New generation landlords are desperately trying to turn their passive income hustles into active ones, using seminars, courses, and the allure of social media to soften the image of the highly criticised and often demonised profession, if you could even call it that.

On my first foray into the hellscape that is #propertytok, a hashtag that currently attracts a whopping 128 million viewers, I’m faced with a video that has over 100,000 likes and virtually zero substance.

Self-proclaimed millionaire property developer Samuel Leeds talks to a 24-year-old who is claiming to be on the verge of owning his sixth house. No credentials, no identification, just the seemingly boastful prediction that “big things are coming,” and that he was able to make so much dough thanks to a strategy that Leeds “taught [him].” The short clip has already attracted over a million views.

@samuel_leeds

The smart way to invest in property #realestate #brrrrstrategy #samuelleeds #propertyinvesting

♬ Paris - 斌杨Remix

Another content creator taking the platform by storm is James Coupland, a zillennial who takes more active participation in his role as a landlord and in turn, his persona. Quick and snappy, Coupland can be seen on his page smashing walls, paving floors, but also driving around Dubai telling you not to invest in cars. Random, I know. The internet is a wild place.

@jamesproperty_

Join the James Property Academy to learn how to make your own property portfolio. 🥳 #fyp

♬ original sound - James Coupland

Coupland’s page is filled with tips and tricks. A lot of his advice isn’t unsound or unfounded either. He’s a 28-year-old who saw class frustration and turned it into motivation. Instead of dismantling the predatory structures inherent in owning property, Coupland saved up while studying, got a mortgage in 2016 and managed to flip his first home after a light renovation.

Numerous homes later, and Coupland has managed to successfully make a TikTok personality out of himself.

He’s nice, a lot of these young people are. On the surface there’s nothing overtly evil, no sinister landlord grin or creepy eyes which might make you believe that they’ll refuse to fix your wardrobe or address the mould infestation plaguing your walls. TikTok has allowed for these young homeowners to curate their personality and appearance to their specific social needs. For some, they play into the hate, knowing it’ll boost their engagement, while others try to level with their viewers—both interesting strategies, if you ask me.

@ykmonney

How I bought my first property at 22 🏡 #fyp #propertymanagement #propertyinvesting #propertyuk #firsttimehomebuyer #property #propertytour #ukpropertyinvestment

♬ In A Minute - Lil Baby

The worst that TikTok had to offer me on the matter was this video that I, along with numerous users in the comments section, were praying was satire. Sadly, I don’t think it was. The following clip from two real-estate “experts” sees them performing a strawman argument of what I can only assume is their idea of a young person refusing to tip their landlord, and then said landlord including the tip as a gratuity in their rent. First of the wig? Secondly, the very notion that anyone should tip their landlord? Doomscrolling had definitely gone too far for me.

@twoguystakeonrealestate

When you’re paying your landlord the rent and a tipping screen appears… #investmentproperty #realestateinvesting #passiveincome

♬ Cooking Time - Lux-Inspira

Where did all these young landlords come from? And how can they afford to be doing this in the first place? The new wave of homeowners is a far cry from kids whose daddies and mummies wrote them hefty cheques.

On TikTok, it’s easy to get sucked into all kinds of narratives—those of us who’ve become “chronically online” will know this all too well. So, it’s hard to verify just how sincere these stories really are, but the basic ingredient needed to join the homeowning elite seems to be: buy a low-cost northern housing and sell it high.

Essentially, leave your ethics at the door, and enjoy financial freedom. This has become all too enticing nowadays, especially given the current state of the UK. And this kind of morally questionable scheme is so plain when you consider the rhetoric that some content creators spew across their respective social media channels.

Vicky Spratt, author of Tenants: The People on the Frontline of Britain’s Housing Emergency and well-known housing journalist, stated in a recent Dazed article: “Against this bleak backdrop, why wouldn’t you want to circumvent a poorly paid job which might never buy you security and opt for work in which, if you hustle hard enough, you could make it big and live happily ever after?”

Despite gen Zers’ left-leaning sensibilities, the current financial climate is pushing us to more individualistic values. It’s also worth addressing that these videos almost always lead to multi-level marketing (MLM) too. The more TikToks I consumed from these landlords looking to leech off people’s desperation (and our basic need for housing), the clearer it became that a particular pattern was emerging.

The scheme usually starts with surface-level, attention-grabbing clips—all of this aimed at reeling you in. Then, before you can say pause, you’re fed lies about how if you simply access valuable information conveniently hidden behind the “property academies” paywall, you’re sure to make bank. It’s the exact same nonsense that the fiends behind Andrew Tate’s Hustlers Academy peddle. There’s a hook, a promise, and a sizeable monthly fee attached to it.

As Britain struggles amid a crushing cost of living crisis, as well as the fact that its capital city has become completely unaffordable for young people, it seems to be increasingly more appealing to find shortcuts to these growing problems. In exactly the same vein as dropshipping influencers, no matter what niche or trend you’re in, you’ll find someone trying to sell you something. Karl Marx would be turning in his grave if he knew how bad things had gotten.

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