Landlord in the fast lane

Following a near-fatal car crash, racing legend Sir Stirling Moss turned to property. Annie Deakin reports from the sideline

"When I retired from racing at 32 after a big crash, I knew nothing about anything," laughed motoring icon Sir Stirling Moss last week who is today hailed a property tycoon.

It took three quarters of an hour to cut him free from his blue Lotus; he was unconscious and remained in a coma for 38 days and paralysed for six months. He recovered but withdrew from racing. "There were two things I could become - an estate agent or a politician. Those are the only two jobs for people who know nothing. It’s true, think of Barbara Castle who couldn’t drive but was made Minister of Transport ­ and Gordon Brown who was put into the Exchequer only to sell off all our gold at half price."

Search for the perfect furniture with The Independent house and home database, powered by mydeco .

Instead of the House of Commons, Moss invested heavily in run down  buildings and is now reaping the rewards. The 80-year-old racing legend has built up an extensive portfolio of buy-to-let properties in London, now worth tens of millions of pounds.

As landlord to 43 tenants across the capital, Moss will speak about his experiences of managing property at Grand Designs Live London later this month. 

"If there is any law, it is certain to be against you, rather than for you. The law in this country is not very helpful to good landlords. [Peter] Rachman really screwed people like me over. He charged a fortune to safeguard the tenant but not the landlord. There are people who have been living in my properties since the Seventies but I can't get rid of them. There is no legal way of getting property back and all the people who cheat know how to work the system."

His is a passionate and refreshingly candid rant against the system but Moss thrives on his property investments.

Following his 1962 car crash, Moss took over and rented out his father’s portfolio of dental surgeries and residential properties. Today, he owns eight properties all within scooter distance of his Mayfair home.

Is he worried about the credit crunch?

"The property market is not good at the moment, but you see, I don’t buy and sell." Instead, Moss buys property, converts it into flats or bedsits and rents it out. He believes that the best hedge against investment is bricks and mortar - particularly in the West Kensington area. "The annual rent that I get today in 2009 is the same that I paid for the freehold in 1975. If you’re going to work at it, invest in property now."

Acting as landlord is not the lazy occupation that some believe it to be; new laws keep Moss on his toes. "Now there is so much red tape with Corgi and electrical certificates that it is cheaper for me to give the tenant money to buy the kettle, rather than me doing it. Being a landlord is no longer a pleasant job." While most of his peers are enjoying their retirement, Moss works 12 hour days. "The difficult thing was finding a wife who is also a workaholic." Third time lucky, he married - Susie, 20 years his junior. "We travel everywhere together. We’ve been married for 30 years ­ it wouldn’t have worked with the other wives because it’s not easy to be with others for 24 hours a day."

They live in a James Bond-style house behind Hyde Park Corner that he bought (as a bombsite) for £12,000 in 1954. Now worth at least £3million, it is six levels of gadget-packed rooms. On the first floor, there is a motorised section of the beamed ceiling. At the­ press of a button, it slowly descends to become a table. His lift was made bespoke out of racing car carbon fibre by the Williams Formula One team, his loo seats are heated and his bath can be run by remote control - a revolutionary concept when installed fifty years ago.

His house brims with sporting memorabilia from his racing years and designer furniture. Hanging on the walls are two mangled steering wheels ­ salvaged from his car crashes ­ and a display cabinet of Dinky-sized models of Ferraris, Maseratis and Aston Martins.

And his most treasured piece of furniture? "I wouldn’t ever get rid of my Charles Eames chair," he says. "I didn’t buy it. I happened to win some races and I said, ‘would you mind ­ instead of another trophy, could you possibly give me a chair?" His Eames chair and ottoman is the ultimate midcentury seat. For a man who declared to know nothing about anything, Moss at least had an eye for a design classic.

Stirling Moss will be discussing his property portfolio on MONDAY 4TH MAY 13.00-13.45 in the Grand Seminar Theatre, sponsored by the Electrical Safety Council, at this year’s Grand Designs, Live, London - www.granddesignslive.com

Annie Deakin is Editor of mydeco.com

Discover more property articles at Homes and Property
News
The surrealist comedian at the Q Awards in 2010
people
News
Russell Brand arriving for the book launch in East London
peopleRussell Brand cancels his book launch debate due to concerns about the make-up of the panel
Sport
Christiano Ronaldo enjoys his opening goal
champions leagueLiverpool 0 Real Madrid 3: Ronaldo and Benzema run Reds ragged to avenge thrashing from their last visit to Anfield
Arts and Entertainment
Awesome foursome: Sam Smith shows off his awards
music22-year-old confirms he is 2014’s breakout British music success
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
Six of the 76 Goats' cheese samples contained a significant amount of sheep's cheese
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
Contestants during this summer's Celebrity Big Brother grand finale
tvBroadcaster attempts to change its image following sale to American media group
Extras
indybest
Arts and Entertainment
Sir Nicholas Serota has been a feature in the Power 100 top ten since its 2002 launch
art
Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Dales attempts to sell British Breeze in the luxury scent task
tvReview: 'Apprentice' candidate on the verge of tears as they were ejected from the boardroom
News
Call me Superman: one of many unusual names chosen by Chinese students
newsChinese state TV offers advice for citizens picking a Western moniker
News
Wilko Johnson is currently on his farewell tour
people
Voices
New look: Zellweger at Elle's Women in Hollywood awards on Monday
voicesRenée Zellweger's real crime has been to age in an industry that prizes women's youth over humanity, says Amanda Hess
News
Let’s pretend: KidZania in Tokyo
educationKidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day
Life and Style
CHARGE BOOSTER: Aeroplane mode doesn't sound very exciting, but it can be a (phone) hacker's friend. Turning on the option while charging your mobile will increase the speed at which your phone battery charges
techNew book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone
Arts and Entertainment
Julianne Moore and Ellen Page are starring together in civil rights drama Freeheld
film
Property search
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Solutions Architect - Permanent - London - £70k DOE

£60000 - £70000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

General Cover Teacher

£110 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Reading: Great opportunities for Cover...

Maths Teacher

£110 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Reading: QTS Maths Teachers needed for...

Maths Teacher

£110 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Reading: QTS Maths Teachers needed for...

Day In a Page

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker
Renée Zellweger's real crime has been to age in an industry that prizes women's youth over humanity

'Renée Zellweger's real crime was to age'

The actress's altered appearance raised eyebrows at Elle's Women in Hollywood awards on Monday
From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Patrick Grafton-Green wonders if they can ever recapture the old magic
Thousands of teenagers to visit battlefields of the First World War in new Government scheme

Pupils to visit First World War battlefields

A new Government scheme aims to bring the the horrors of the conflict to life over the next five years
The 10 best smartphone accessories

Make the most of your mobile: 10 best smartphone accessories

Try these add-ons for everything from secret charging to making sure you never lose your keys again
Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time against Real Madrid: Was this shirt swapping the real reason?

Liverpool v Real Madrid

Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time. Was shirt swapping the real reason?
West Indies tour of India: Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Decision to pull out of India tour leaves the WICB fighting for its existence with an off-field storm building
Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?