Roger Akelius

Roger Akelius Profile of property investor

Who is he ?

He is the founder and owner of Akelius Residential which owns and manages about fifty thousand apartments around the world.

Born

1945

He was born in Stora Mellby , a small village located between Trollhättan and Alingsås, Sweden.

First job

When he was eleven-years-old his first job was in a Dairy.

Career

Akelius was a total nerd. All of his pictures from youth show a heavily spectacled computer geek. (They do, look him up).

He worked for IBM in Sweden from 1965 to 1972 and must have been quite talented as he started to train other people and publish his own books on computers.

Three years later he took up a senior lecturer position at the computer technology university Chalmers, at the age of twenty-three.

Creator and self-publisher of technical books.

In 1966, while still working for IBM, he self-published his first book, ‘Modern Cobol’ using his own company Akelius Data Böcker.

The book sold almost sixty five thousand copies and he continued to produced more titles on topics including:

He also produced courses for people working in computer programming and computers generally.

Tax Advisory on premium bonds

Akelius made an interesting move from writing about computer programming to writing about taxation.

In 1974, at the age of twenty-nine, Akelius published the book ‘Allt om premieobligationer’ which sold over one hundred thousand copies.

The book explained how investors could invest in premium bonds to reduce their tax effects.

Tax planning

In 1982, at the age of thirty seven, Akelius published the book ‘Akelius Skatt’ which covered tax planning and started a tax advisory business of the same name.  In 1987 he also published ‘Tax & Investments on a Thousand Pages’ which would go on to be published every year till 1994 when he sold the company.

Insurance

In 1987, at the age of forty-two Akelius founded an insurance company in Cyprus.

Swedes were allowed invest three thousand kroners per year in foreign endowment insurances tax free. So Akelius facilitated them doing this gaining over one hundred and sixty thousand customers.

Roger Akelius sold his share of the company in 2006.

Formed Akelius Residential property

In 1994, at the age of forty-nine, while still working in tax and insurance advisory, Akelius created ‘Akelius Fastigheter’ , today Akelius Residential Property AB.

Akelius had a business plan of taking the cash he had accumulated and buying, upgrading and managing residential properties in major cities.

They concentrated on major cities including:

  • Berlin
  • Boston
  • Copenhagen
  • Hamburg
  • London
  • New York
  • Paris
  • Stockholm
  • Toronto
  • Montreal
  • Washington

Ever since then, Akelius has grown and grown. They have become a whale, gobbling up properties all around the Globe, refurbishing them and then renting them out for as much as they can.

There is nothing wrong with this and they play an active role in creating value in the economy and replenishing the housing stock.

However, they have adopted several business strategies that have been severely criticised and that Mr Akelius should be shamed by.

Criticism

1- Gentrification

Akelius has been criticised for causing Gentrification of major cities.

Akelius buys old building stock and renovates them (while the buildings were occupied which we will deal with in point 4). Once the renovations were completed, they rented out to people who can afford them which were people outside the existing community. This leads to communities being transformed with richer people pushing poorer people out.

So imagine an area that is really poor and run down. A lot of immigrants move in as its really cheap to live there. Over twenty years, a thriving music, arts and food scene develops within this community. People outside the area come to the area and love the restaurants and nightlife.They start to buy properties in the area, move out families of immigrants and build trendy houses and flats. Akelius moves in and does this on an industrial scale. Before you know it, the area is a ghost town, full of trendy, wealthy people who have gutted the soul of the area. The poor and the immigrants move out to another area and the cycle of gentrification continues.

However, it must be said that Akelius buys properties that need renovating and that existing people in the area are not renovating. They invest the money and the properties become nicer. While the people who cannot now afford the properties can no longer afford to live in the area, the area becomes nicer and wealthier. It is cruel on the people but is that not just capitalism? The alternative is that people just continue to live in poor quality accommodation which is not good for anyone’s health, education or future prospects ?

2- Increasing rents

When Akelius could increase rents, they would. We don’t criticise him over this but some would.

3- Making it more difficult for first time buyers

Because Akelius is out there buying up properties it makes it harder for first time buyers to get on the market. But we do not have much sympathy with this criticism. It is a free market and Akelius and other similar businesses cannot buy every property. First time buyers just have to hustle.

4- Keeping properties like construction sites

This is our biggest problem with Akelius.

Akelius had a business model of buying an apartment block and refurbishing the units as and when people moved out.

Once an apartment became available they would send the builders into that apartment. This would cause a lot of noise during the day. So you might have one floor that has ten apartments with people living in them and then one apartment which is being used as a construction site. It makes living in that building hellish. Then people would start moving out due to the noise. More builders would arrive in. If you stayed in the units you would hear a lot of noise and see a lot of builders hanging around every day.

We agree that this business model causes a lot of pain to existing tenants. Akelius could easily buy whole blocks of apartments and refurbish them. But they consistently buy blocks with tenants that are on some form of rent control so they proceed knowing that the noise will force them out eventually. Its the corporate equivalent of buying a block of apartments with low rent control rates and then beating up the existing tenants so they move out. Then you can charge new tenants whatever you want. Its effective and completely immoral. Roger Akelius does not have that long to live so he needs to remember that he cannot take these apartments with him.