When I first heard I was to be shown around two HMO properties in Gorebridge I, like most people would, had visions of squalor, poverty and deprivation. I couldn’t have been more wrong.
And when Tom Wilson took me ‘through the keyhole’ at Gorebridge Main Street not only was I impressed with the facilities but having met one of the occupants I left full of admiration for people that live in these Houses of Multiple Occupancy and the struggles they face trying to get their life back on track.
Tom Wilson (81) runs Midlothian Self-Catering Apartments and Studios with his daughter Elaine Collins (58).
Among their properties they manage two HMO properties on Gorebridge Main Street, where they house mostly people sent to them by Midlothian Council, referred to as ‘clients’.
When I visited, all 17 spaces in the two HMOs and three self-contained studio flats on the Main Street that they manage were taken. These properties were previously empty shops and a derelict basement flat.
Mr Wilson first gave me a peak into the smaller HMO, a ground level flat: “Three people live here. We have had it for about 20 years.
“When we took it over it was a cafe and then a second hand furniture shop, but it went downhill.
“So that’s when we decided to go into property development. So we took this on as a two bedroom flat.
“Now we have three flats, two share a bathroom while the other is self contained with en-suite facilities.
“Some of these people are working. Although they are in our properties and the council are helping them, they are going out to work so they are contributing.”
Overall, the standard of that and the larger HMO (see video) was similar to a tidy hostel, while the studio apartments were decorated to a very high standard which made me a bit jealous!
Read more on this story in the October 10 edition of the Midlothian Advertiser.