Marco Robinson, a 49-year-old multimillionaire and property mogul, decided to share his good fortune, by buying a flat three-bedroom flat in Preston, and giving it away completely free to someone who desperately needed it. In the end he decided to give the flat to Holly, an 18-year-old single mum, who had been living in a mould-ridden flat with her baby daughter, Bethany.
Marco, who is worth £25 million, owns 150 properties, and decided to buy another in order to give something back. He advertised for applicants for the £120,000 property, and received 8,000. He drew up a shortlist of just three groups of people, and met them all in order to choose who would receive the flat. As well as Holly there was a woman losing her sight and a family of Syrian refugees.
He chose Holly, because he said her experience resonated with him. He went through difficult times with his mother growing up, after she moved them both out of the troubled family home. She worked hard, but often struggled to pay the rent, and the pair spent nights sleeping in parks in Derbyshire and London.
After he saw the mouldy flat that Holly was living in with her daughter, he decided to give her a safe and secure home for Bethany. He said he hoped that not having to worry about paying for a home would help Holly return to her studies too.
Choosing between the three groups was the hardest decision of his life, so Marco decided he also wanted to help the others, and gave Jo, the partially sighted woman, the deposit for a home of her own. He also arranged for somewhere for Mahmoud and his sons to stay while they waited for their asylum to be granted.
Was this fair?
Marco's story was broadcast on Channel 4 last night, in Get a House for Free. The reaction from viewers who took to social media after the show was somewhat mixed. There were those who called it "poverty porn", and some who likened the competitive element to the Hunger Games. One Tweeted: ""Get a house for free" seems to be a cross between the National Lottery and "The Hunger Games." And another added: "Get a House For Free is such a cruel programme. Making vulnerable and desperate people compete like this is heartbreaking."
Others disagreed, including one who Tweeted: "How amazing is get a house for free? Top top bloke that Marco". Another added: "Get a House for free was wonderful last night, that man was so kind. There are still wonderful people who will help others without greed."
But what do you think? Let us know in the comments.
Most viewed property of the year
Most viewed property of the year
This unassuming three-bedroom detached house in Martins Heron in Berkshire doesn’t immediately look like the kind of property to draw the crowds. However, the fact it was used as Harry Potter’s home in the first of the films means we were intrigued to see inside this £475,000 property that was ideal for commuting.
This was an impressive seven-bedroom home in Upper Denby, on the market for £1.3 million - with plenty of rustic charm and a wood-burning stove. However, we all know the real reason this made it to the list of the most-viewed properties: it’s the enormous play area complete with pirate ship that you can just catch sight of through the lounge window.
This five bedroom relatively newly-built mansion has every whistle and bell you could wish for - from a cinema and games room to a gym, swimming pool, and a dining room that’s big enough for a grand piano in the corner. It’s still on the market for £1.05 million, and is right next to Lincoln Golf course if you fancy playing a round.
Unsurprisingly, this development project on Chadwick Road in East London has been snapped up. At just £1 million you got 13 rooms over four floors - with off-street parking for three cars. No wonder it was the seventh most popular home for us to look at, and dream that with a bit of elbow grease we could have a huge London property... and we could finally park somewhere near it too.
This is a home that comes with a dream lifestyle. For just £1.4 million, you can get an incredibly swanky five-bedroom farmhouse in seven acres of lovely Welsh countryside. You also get a two-bedroom barn conversion - either to house visiting family, or to run as a holiday letting business. The house is still in the market - so that dream could still be yours.
Ever fancy your own posh lakeside hideaway with its own jetty just over an hour from London - for just £2.8 million?
For just £545,000, this 6-bedroom house in Donaghadee could be yours. The property itself is very recently developed in an elegantly rustic New England style. There's plenty of room, and a dream bathroom. But possibly the reason it features so high up the list of most-viewed houses is that it comes with a paddock and stable - perfect for anyone with horsey aspirations.
It’s easy to see why this pretty £375,000 cottage is in such high demand. First is the fact it has been rebuilt from reclaimed stone, so combines old world charm with handy modern features (like a good-sized kitchen and fancy bathroom). Then there’s the location - right in the centre of the village of Holmfirth - best-known as the setting of Last of the Summer Wine.
This impressive house in Bromley in Kent has footballer written all over it. From the pale grey colour scheme, to the acres of space, and the enormous patio for entertaining, there's plenty for a footballer to love. At just £1.7 million it’s pocket-change for them too. For the rest of us, there’s the chance to dream of a mansion within commuting distance of London for the price of a flat in Notting Hill.
There was a time when a semi-detached five-bedroom home in Hampstead Garden Suburb was the sort of thing that ordinary families could aspire to. Now it's the kind of thing we spend our time daydreaming over on property websites: marveling at a 90 foot garden and the fact it has a garage. The price tag of £2.25 million means it's the kind of house we can only ever afford to look at online - which is probably why it's the most viewed property of the year.