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
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Alfred Molina, left, and John Lithgow in a scene from 'Love Is Strange'
film
News
A model of a Neanderthal man on display at the National Museum of Prehistory in Dordogne, France
science
News
Dawkins: 'There’s a very interesting reason why a prince could not turn into a frog – it's statistically too improbable'
newsThat's Richard Dawkins on babies with Down Syndrome
Sport
Malky Mackay salutes the Cardiff fans after the 3-1 defeat at Liverpool on Sunday
footballFormer Cardiff boss accused of sending homophobic, racist and messages
Arts and Entertainment
Martin Amis: Taken to task over rash decisions and ill-judged statements
booksThe Zone of Interest just doesn't work, says James Runcie
Life and Style
life – it's not, says Rachel McKinnon
Arts and Entertainment
Eye of the beholder? 'Concrete lasagne' Preston bus station
architectureWhich monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?
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

Corporate Tax Solicitor

Highly Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: CITY - HIGHEST QUALITY INTERNATIONAL ...

Relationship Manager

£500 - £600 per day: Orgtel: Relationship Manager, London, Banking, Accountant...

Marketing & PR Assistant - NW London

£15 - £17 per hour: Ashdown Group: Marketing & PR Assistant - Kentish Town are...

Senior Network Integration/Test Engineer

£250 - £300 per day: Orgtel: Senior Network Integration/Test Engineer Berkshir...

Day In a Page

Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape
eBay's enduring appeal: Online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce retailer

eBay's enduring appeal

The online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce site
Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
Artist Olafur Eliasson's latest large-scale works are inspired by the paintings of JMW Turner

Magic circles: Artist Olafur Eliasson

Eliasson's works will go alongside a new exhibition of JMW Turner at Tate Britain. He tells Jay Merrick why the paintings of his hero are ripe for reinvention
Josephine Dickinson: 'A cochlear implant helped me to discover a new world of sound'

Josephine Dickinson: 'How I discovered a new world of sound'

After going deaf as a child, musician and poet Josephine Dickinson made do with a hearing aid for five decades. Then she had a cochlear implant - and everything changed
Greggs Google fail: Was the bakery's response to its logo mishap a stroke of marketing genius?

Greggs gives lesson in crisis management

After a mishap with their logo, high street staple Greggs went viral this week. But, as Simon Usborne discovers, their social media response was anything but half baked
Matthew McConaughey has been singing the praises of bumbags (shame he doesn't know how to wear one)

Matthew McConaughey sings the praises of bumbags

Shame he doesn't know how to wear one. Harriet Walker explains the dos and don'ts of fanny packs
7 best quadcopters and drones

Flying fun: 7 best quadcopters and drones

From state of the art devices with stabilised cameras to mini gadgets that can soar around the home, we take some flying objects for a spin
Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

The midfielder returned to the Premier League after two years last weekend. The controversial character had much to discuss after his first game back
Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

British No 1 knows his consistency as well as his fitness needs working on as he prepares for the US Open after a ‘very, very up and down’ year
Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home