Building up from their spare room to a property empire

Ryan and Kath Melles at the Property Shop in Quay Road
Ryan and Kath Melles at the Property Shop in Quay Road

Their business started in their spare room 25 years ago, but Ryan and Kath Melles have seen their property empire grow and grow.

Originally they rented out a few flats, but they have expanded to become a full management service. And they are considering how to offer more.

As they were looking to take their first steps on the property ladder a quarter-of-a-century ago, they turned to the Free Press to help them get off the ground.

Ryan said: “We originally started with one block of four flats in Clarence Road. We looked in the Free Press at what was available and got a calculator out.

“We didn’t even have our own home then, my parents let me stay with them.

“Once I had got one, I quickly saw another and took a gamble. I spent hours doing the work and did everything myself.

“I took holidays from work to get it done, putting better windows in and getting grants for central heating.

“There was no internet or computers, we had two books, one for incomings and one for outgoings. I think the first computer we had was Windows 97.”

They still own their first property and rent it out, but work these days involves a lot more than simply being a landlord.

Running The Property Shop Yorkshire means one minute you are being a handyman, next a financial advisor, a social worker, plumber and even a matchmaker.

But instead of pairing aspiring couples together, they are trying to put families in their perfect home.

Ryan and Kath believe that by getting to know people, whether they are landlords or tenants, and taking time from the start to add a personal touch, you get a better relationship between everybody long-term.

It’s not always easy. If it was, Channel Five wouldn’t make TV programmes called Nightmare Tenants!

“Being a landlord is always a gamble, but the overall aim has to be to get nice properties for nice people,” said Ryan.

“You can only rent out a home if it is somewhere you would be happy to put your family in there. You have to care, do things the right way.

“It’s all about building a relationship from the start so you don’t get a lot of malicious damage, or non-payment of rent.

“People have more respect if the building they live in is nice. If you don’t have a very good property, you won’t get very good tenants.”

After 25 years of being landlords, they have seen all sorts of things, heard all sorts of excuses and learned to expect the unexpected.

People locking themselves out of their flats is a regular problem, tenants owning exotic scorpions and spiders which escaped from their tanks is less common – but Ryan is prepared for anything.

They have now have flats and houses all over Bridlington and are considering whether to start selling properties as well as renting them in the future.

Collecting rent, simple repairs to try to save big bills for landlords, carrying out credit checks – it is all in a day’s work now.

It is all change from the early days in that spare room.

After buying up more properties and admittedly paying ‘over the odds’ at the height of the boom in 2006 and 2007, they got through the crash a few years later, and then four years ago, having worked at British Aerospace, Sara Lee and Hull College, Ryan took the plunge and began running the portfolio full-time.

“We were still running the property side of things from a small office at home, but we wanted to be taken more seriously,” he said.

“We had outgrown the office at home and we needed a visual presence.

“We didn’t want to be in town because of the parking problems and all the other agencies are nearby, but we didn’t want to be too far out of town either. We came up with The Property Shop name and worked on the branding.”

A year ago they moved into premises on Quay Road and they now own seven blocks of flats, comprising 45 units, and manage dozens of others for landlords who don’t want to be involved in the day-to-day running of the buildings.

All the properties are meticulously listed on their state-of-the-art web-based software.

It is a tough market as they pit themselves against plenty of rivals, both independents and chains.

“We are landlords ourselves, that’s our unique selling point,” Ryan added.

“We have lived it, seen the issues they face, know about laws and regulations and how they have changed over time. We understand what it is like.”