Meet the boss who is buying houses for employees – ‘The offer was pretty amazing’

Dragons' Den: Entrepreneurs in need of investment for invention

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With average house prices now 10 times more than the average wage, Mr Oswald has provided a huge opportunity to his employees, providing them with a good home environment for as long as they need. Having started his business ClickASnap on his own, Mr Oswald experienced first-hand the detrimental financial effects unscrupulous landlords can have on those that need every last penny they earn.

Mr Oswald offers his employees safe and secure accommodation for 50 percent less than the market rent in the area they choose.

He has been an involved entrepreneur since his early teens, having had his first patent at the age of 14. 

His passion for digital technology and photography led him to founding photo-sharing site ClickASnap in 2018. 

Now, with £1.6million in turnover, Mr Oswald has made a commitment to buy houses for his 10 employees to ensure they have a good home environment.

Mr Oswald believes that for a company to succeed, employees need a safe and secure place to live in, combined with his determination to undermine the rental market he thinks rips people off, he arrived at this solution for both problems. 

Mr Oswald commented: “A housing market that extracts some 50 percent of people’s salaries, and decades of their life for a deposit for a mere place to live is not a good thing for anyone but the banks and landlords.”

One of his employees, Eliza Davenport, 24, is among those to have been offered the opportunity.

She can choose the house and area, provided it’s within a £200,000 budget, and Mr Oswold will then make the purchase. Then, he will rent it to her for 50 percent of the market average in that area for as long as she needs help.

As part of the proposition, ClickASnap will own the property and pay the interest-only mortgage whilst employee tenants like Ms Davenport will be required to pay ClickASnap only half of the market rent in the area they choose to live in. 

Both Mr Oswald and Ms Davenport live in Wimborne, Dorset, an area with notoriously high house prices which averages around £389,187 according to Rightmove.

Ms Davenport commented on the once-in-a-lifetime offer: “It’s been so stressful and draining dealing with landlords, especially coupled with everyone around you reaching certain milestones in their lives and trying to buy a home. 

“Having my boss Tom’s offer was pretty amazing.”

Like many young workers, Ms Davenport does not have the funds to buy a house at the moment and being able to rent a home at 50 percent of what her rent used to be “totally takes the pressure off”. 

She continued: “Dealing with landlords and rental estate agents recently has been so draining on my time, energy and money.”

There has been an increased drive to support employee mental health as the ‘Great Resignation’ wears on due to the pandemic. 

However, many of these plans and ideas have fallen short of actually providing employees with the support they have needed during the pandemic and, as Ms Davenport notes, Mr Oswald seems to have far outdone other companies in this arena. 

Ms Davenport commented: “There’s constant chatter about companies offering wellbeing to employees but this is worth so much more than bringing in a cake  on a Friday. It is genuinely looking after my lifestyle and wellbeing.”

Mr Oswald explained his motivation behind the proposition: “I have spent seven years building ClickASnap and at the start I rented, as a lot of my money went into building the business. I dealt with so many unscrupulous landlords – one who kicked me out a month before Christmas.”

He shared his beliefs that the rental market is biased towards landlords and those who “earn in excess of £100,000 a year”, a disparity that he did not want his employees to worry about whilst at work. 

“So, I decided at ClickASnap, I want happy, secure staff and to create that I want them to be happy in their homes.”

He shared that this appears to be a smart move on behalf of the company as well, noting that: “Money in the bank earns us nothing and there are limits to how much we can invest in the business, we may as well put that money into housing and then we will charge half the market rent with no inflation rises meaning it is safe and secure for the long term.”  

This provides long-term financial stability for his employees, allowing them to focus whole-heartedly on their work without unnecessary external pressure. 

He concluded: “This is something the government should be doing. They certainly shouldn’t be encouraging endless house price rises which is what they’ve been doing for years.”

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