You’re getting on a little bit, maybe thinking about getting out possibly mentioning it to one or two others at the cash and carry. Then, out of the blue, two young guys from ‘up London’ happen to walk into your Northampton store and offer to run it for you. They’ll pay you a weekly fee (couldn’t afford a lease) and they will keep the rest of the profit.

This was the scenario that Jayesh Patel described when he rang from Classic News. Had I heard of this one? Should he go for it? He was sort of tempted, but he had very few details bar a mobile phone number.

My immediate thought was could this be a scam? - it didn’t really strike true, though. Just seemed odd. So I rang my newly discovered expert Barry Frost (see last issue), managing director of Commercial Plus (Chester) to see what he thought.

Turns out to be not that uncommon. Barry has come across several such cases, one as recently as the previous Saturday, but he doesn’t think it is sinister, just a word of mouth thing, and the deal is done on a handshake.

But he says: “Jayesh shouldn’t touch it with a barge pole. These arrangements can’t be written on the back of a fag packet and it may come back to bite him.”

If it’s leasehold, adds Barry, (which I originally thought it was) then neither party is protected and there needs to be a solicitor involved. In any case, why not hire a manager and take a back seat?

When I rang back and spoke to Jayesh’s wife, it turns out that the property is freehold. So why not just hire a manager? She agreed that sounded best.

And Jayesh should not hire anyone who just walks in off the street. There are lots of people looking for such opportunities so he should start interviewing.

When the property market cheers up, then’s the time to sell. Right now, it’s a buyer’s market.