Major demand for Student Accomodation in Africa

Posted On Thursday, 21 November 2013 10:55 Published by
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Specialising in providing a residential management service - which includes leasing and letting in regard to student accommodation, affordable housing, social housing and other residential homes, JHI Residential, which is a subsidiary of Excellerate Property Services, is rapidly expanding into Africa - mainly in Southern Africa, reports Thea Bezuidenhout, MD of JHI Residential.

Emona aerial view"We have recently been awarded a number of new contracts on the continent, most notable being the management and letting of student accommodation units in a brand new cluster development, Emona Student Residence in Windhoek, Namibia, which will cater for the huge, burgeoning demand for such accommodation," she says.

"Initially, in the first phase of this development, we will be managing 1 152 beds, which will increase to a total of 3 000 beds in additional phases. The landlord is Hanganeni Emona - a consortium consisting of Hanganeni Investment Holdings and CSV Construction Namibia – who plan to further expand accommodation for students in Namibia and possibly other countries in Africa.

"With a national student population currently close to 13 000, the University of Namibia has a strong demand for accommodation, which offers further potential for the growth of our business. We see this as a stepping stone to significantly increasing our presence in Africa, and are currently in negotiations regarding further management contracts for student accommodation in Zambia and Botswana."

Bezuidenhout says that managing student accommodation and understanding their needs is a specialised business. "We understand the specific requirements in the management of student accommodation and place a high priority on security and providing added value in regard to social requirements. It is very much a personal service, as we provide the interface with the student community and the educational institutions and the main focus in most instances is to uplift social skills and create an appealing community for the students. We also manage sub-contractors as required – particularly in the case of properties which are undergoing renovation and the installation of additional facilities and improvements to cater for students, such as a canteen, wireless connectivity and access control."

JHI Residential has proven its capabilities in the market and already manages a portfolio of 10 buildings comprising approximately 450 flats (with around 2 000 beds) for the StudentDigz portfolio in Braamfontein, Johannesburg. Says Bezuidenhout: "A number of these buildings have been renovated and refurbished, with finishes and fittings of a high standard and with units including a kitchen and ablution, as well as a bed and desk with lamp. The feedback from the students has been very positive."

This inner city growth node is undergoing revitalisation and experiences a high demand for student accommodation from those attending Wits University, Johannesburg University and other educational institutions in the area. Also in Johannesburg CBD JHI Residential manages two buildings comprising approximately 160 units on behalf of Leungo Investments.

On behalf of Business Venture Investments, JHI Residential manages some 187 flats in Parklands, Cape Town and a further 162 flats in Fleurhof, in Roodepoort, Gauteng. In Dainfern in Fourways, Johannesburg, the company manages a 120-unit residential building called Paddocks, on behalf of the Trust 3 fund (formed by International Housing Solutions), while in Linden, bordering Randburg, JHI manages two buildings comprising 80 residential units on behalf of a private fund.

Adds Bezuidenhout: "A key factor is that we are able to provide a diverse range of services which enables clients to select an end to end solution or a specific package. Turnkey solutions include all aspects of residential property management, including facilities, maintenance and operational management, renovations and people management. It also includes a letting service, however in some instances where the landlord agrees to a letting commission external agents can be utilised if required."

Further social housing management contracts are in the pipeline for JHI Residential to manage social housing accommodation with a partner, Toproot, which is an accredited Social Housing Registration Authority provider. Says Bezuidenhout: "Another initiative with Toproot consists of 30 Johannesburg inner city buildings of which the first five - comprising a total of approximately 200 flats catering the affordable market - will be ready mid-2014.

Concludes Bezuidenhout: "We have also expanded our operation into body corporate management, with recent contracts secured in Eerste Rivier and Belhar – both in Cape Town, Durban's CBD and Musgrave areas, and a mixed-use building in Pretoria CBD.

Last modified on Thursday, 21 November 2013 11:27

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