Saturday, December 5, 2009

Luxury student digs prove a lucrative investment

From The Times December 3, 2009
Kaya Burgess

It will loom like a razor blade above the City, but when the 33-storey tower block opens next year, it will be tapping into a very different — and very profitable — market to the banks that it will overlook.

Student accommodation is booming. Rentals have proved to be one of the few recession-proof areas of the property market, rising despite the general economic downturn, and Blackstone, the world’s largest private equity company, is among those aiming for a slice of the pie.

Next summer it will open Nido Spitalfields, the second in its portfolio of large-scale, high-end student digs in the capital. The building near Liverpool Street, in the City of London, will open its doors to 1,200 students in time for the 2010-11 academic year.

“The credit crunch really hasn’t hit the student accommodation market,” Maureen McDermott, manager of European student accommodation for Blackstone, said. “We’ve had great success with keeping our building in King’s Cross occupied, and are even planning to open the Spitalfields building a month or so earlier than planned.”

Stuart Grant, a managing director at Blackstone who is overseeing the £250 million project, said: “There are a growing number of students in London and a limitation on the number of beds provided by the private sector or universities. There are more than 260,000 students in London, but only about 45,000 beds. When there is that chronic supplydemand imbalance, it means that as a sector it’s an interesting investment opportunity.”

The students’ pockets will have to be deep enough to afford the £260 per week being asked for the ensuite rooms set in spacious apartments over 33 floors.

“The Nido offer is focused mainly on foreign students, Mr Grant said. “So our customer, in my mind, is not only the student, but also the parent in America or China who is willing to pay up for our product, offering safety, security and good amenities in a central location.”

The New York-based Blackstone knows the development’s area well: the 105-metre skyscraper will overlook Broadgate, the office complex that is half-owned by the private equity fund. On site yesterday, construction workers teetered amid the wind and rain to keep the downpour from seeping into the unfinished building, where a number of showrooms stand ready as an example of the clean-cut luxury that will be awaiting students. Designed by TP Bennett, the building will offer its residents catering areas, a gym, WiFi internet and state-of-the-art mod-cons in all rooms. Where lorries and vans rolled in yesterday will be a lobby with underfloor heating, a games area and a café, paid for with keycards that alert staff if a student has not been in (or out) of their room for a long period.

On Pentonville Road near King’s Cross, Blackstone’s first Nido building — nido means nest in Spanish — is already home to about 900 students from 85 nationalities, 40 per cent of whom are from the United States.

Three years ago Blackstone moved from snapping up traditional real estate and began buying operating real estate such as shopping malls and residences.

Planning permission has been granted for Blackstone to begin work on a third student site in Notting Hill, West London, which would open to 272 students in early 2011.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Corporates squeeze market for private student landlords - UK

Posted on December 1st, 2009 by steve

Institutional investors are deserting the commercial property sector to pump hundreds of millions in to student housing investments.

Fund managers see student letting as more stable than commercial letting as the double risk of offering incentives to tenants and the chance a tenant may go out of business do not apply to students.

HMO landlords under pressure

Private student landlords are coming under pressure from two sides now – councils stepping up regulatory requirements and licensing costs on HMOs (houses in multiple occupation) and big corporate landlords with the financial clout to house hundreds of students in university towns and cities.

The move by institutional investors is confirmed by the UK’s largest student room provider UNITE, a public listed company that has £325 million to invest in the sector – with £133 million already raised by institutions with another £23 million pledged.

The company also said like-for-like rental growth increased to 9.7% between July 1 and November 18 2009.

Students pay corporates millions in rent

UNITE has a portfolio of student accommodation valued at £877 million at the end of September, and this is expected to grow to more than £1 billion. The company houses 39,000 students in 126 properties in 33 towns and cities across the UK.

Another large student housing investor, University Partnerships Programme (UPP) has signed off a £115 million student housing deal with the University of Nottingham.

UPP has committed to refurbishing 850 rooms, providing students with affordable, high quality accommodation.

This major deal follows UPP’s recent £133m transaction with the University of Exeter.

Through these two transactions, UPP has put £250 million of new private investment, including institutional funds, into the higher education sector in less than six weeks.

UPP expects to provide accommodation for 35,000 students by 2012. Currently, UPP has 18,000 rooms for students paying £85 million a year in rent.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Student housing going fast

23 Nov 2009

If you or your children are studying in Cape Town and haven't sorted out accommodation for the 2010 academic year, you'd best get started because rental units are going fast.

Estate agents in Cape Town's southern suburbs say enquiries for rental units in suburbs like Rondebosch, Rosebank, Claremont, Mowbray and Newlands have been picking up steadily since September.

This is despite the option of campus residence, which becomes infra dig after first year.

Chorus Letting agent Paul Theunissen said they were definitely experiencing and increase in enquires for letting in the southern suburbs as students set themselves up for the next year.

Theunissen said most students preferred living near the institutions at which they were studying, with Rosebank and Rondebosch being most popular for Cape Peninsula University of Technology students, while University of Cape Town students looked in a range from the CBD to Wynberg in the south.

As to what parents or students could expect to pay, he said bachelor and one-bedroom flats would cost between R3k to R4k per month while two-bedroom apartments could go up to R7k per month.

Although many students had already signed leases for next year's accommodation, there were always latecomers.

"We are expecting the phones to ring off the hook from around January 4," he said.

Brenda Dickinson and Associates rental division director Taryn Hulne said the majority of leases starting in January 2010 would be finalised by the end of November.

Hulne said students and parents want to ensure that they've finalised these accommodation plans before they went home for their summer vacation.

She said there was also a lot of interest from foreign students who were going to be studying in Cape Town for post-graduate degrees or were on international exchange programmes.

IIFM agent Margi Bate said students were definitely one of the main drivers of the rental market in the southern suburbs.

Bates said they were usually busier from November until tertiary institutions opened in February the following year, and again in July due to foreign and post-graduate students picking up their tuition in the middle of the year.

She said she got enquiries from as far afield as Zimbabwe and Uganda.

She said one and two-bedroom apartments were popular among students, depending on whether they wanted to share accommodation or live alone.

Lewis Kennett, sales agent for Homenet/Harcourts Jon Rosenberg, says the Auckland Park area in Johannesburg has "without a doubt" seen a gargantuan upsurge in demand for student accommodation in November. The area is home to the University of Johannesburg and a stone's throw away from the University of Witwatersrand.

"As the varsities' student numbers grow, so the demand for accommodation grows. There is currently a real shortage of properties to meet this demand and we're only in November now.

"The demand is split according to the income of the student's parents. The students with wealthier parents are able to purchase and rent flats and townhouses to satisfy their need for privacy, while the poorer students tend to go for less expensive, communal accommodation," he says.

Bloemfontein's student housing market will also receive a boost with the launch of a new development set to be built next to the university campus.

Riaan Malan of the local Aida franchise says only about 5,000 of the 28,000 students at the University of the Free State can be accommodated in varsity residences. "That means that every year 23,000 students need accommodation, either at home in the city or in student housing, which represents a large percentage of our residential demand.

"Traditionally, students used to start looking for accommodation for the next academic year in November, but limited availability has seen prospective tenants putting their names on waiting lists earlier and earlier. This year we already had an extensive waiting list at the beginning of August."

Malan says the planned Uniloft apartment development opposite the campus will hopefully go some way to relieving the pressure on demand. "The developers are now just waiting for final rezoning approval and intend to start construction early next year, with the expected occupation date being January 2011."

He also says the developers are still negotiating final marketing prices in an effort to make units as affordable as possible, but that the 43sqm two-bedroom apartments are expected to be offered at prices between R600k and R700k.

"Investors can expect rentals of up to R5k a month if the units are let to two students."

The 370 units will be marketed off-plan and will feature high security as well as services specifically tailored to student living, such as laundry and recreational facilities. All units will be fully furnished. – Eugene Brink and West Cape News

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Student Digs will beat commercial property

UK real estate forecast: 5% for student homes, almost zero for office blocks.
Knight Frank forecasts continued rental growth in student accommodation sector


Rental growth in the student accommodation sector remains robust, recording growth of 5% per annum over the last six years, compared to 0.6% for commercial property. Substantially higher growth was achieved in key university towns over the last academic year.

Demand for university places continues to rise. Preliminary figures suggest a further increase in demand for places in the 2010/11 academic year, with UCAS reporting a 12% rise in applications at its October deadline.
As an asset class, the student accommodation sector is maturing and becoming recognised as an important element of the wider property investment market. Since mid 2009, there been increased demand for secure income producing assets and demonstrable yield compression.

Source: realestateweb

Friday, October 30, 2009

High demand for rental property in Scotland from student market

Written by Ray Clancy
Thursday, 29 October 2009 09:14 -

Buying property and renting it out to students is proving profitable for landlords in Scotland as demand is high and rents stable, according to letting agents.

Research from shows that demand from students is high and contrary to
popular opinion students generally make excellent tenants.

'The lettings market in Scotland has seen rental values decline somewhat during the first half of this year. High stock levels have forced landlords to reduce their expectations without the reward of securing a faster let. Demand for student flats, on the other hand, always seems to outstrip supply,' said Richard Matthews, marketing manager.

He explained that properties close to university campuses and near attractions such as night clubs and pubs are easy to let. 'In Glasgow, the highest demand for student flats is, as expected, in the city centre and West End. Generally students will aim to be as close to their campus as possible,' said Matthews.

Gone are the days when students were rowdy and got behind with their payments. 'As rents are more often than not now being guaranteed by parents, the standard of student flats nowadays is very high. The stereotype for students is mostly gone as they want to rent something of good quality,' added Matthews.

In Edinburgh all the student properties for the new academic year were rented out before the start of the summer. 'We could easily have let many, many more if we had them on our books. We don't even put a waiting list up for properties because the response is so immense every year. There are some students who will start to ask in January about properties for their next academic year as they are desperate to get a good home in a desirable location in the city,' said Colette Murphy, director at Braemore Property Management.

'We've seen rent falls across other parts of the rental market in recent months as there has been greater competition among landlords for tenants. However, student flats are definitely proving the exception to the rule, as these tenants are happy to pay a higher rent to secure a good property,' she added.

The company reckons that if you have a property in an area close to the university such asNewington, the Southside or Marchmont then it will prove popular with the student market. A three or four bedroom flat or house is renting for between £325 and £450 per double room per month depending on the quality of the property and its location.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Student accommodation tips for the novice

By Let and Stay (Pty) Ltd

So you have passed your matric exams, have been accepted to varsity and now need a place to stay. If you have not been accepted to a university dorm then you can make use of a student accommodation agency such as Let and Stay (Pty) Ltd to assist you in finding a suitable spot to lay your head.

It’s important to remember that you have a lot of campus activities in your first year so you need accommodation that is close to the university so that you can save time and effort in travelling between classes and activities. Accommodation that is walking distance from your campus will not only save you pot loads of money but also increase your available time to do your campus activities.

You have two private accommodation options to choose from;

• Commune / digs: You have your own room in a house shared by other students – you will commonly share a lounge and kitchen and sometimes a bathroom. You do not have to worry about trivial things like the garden and other maintenance, plumbing issues and so forth – your managing agent will take care of these issues. Your room will be semi furnished – you will have a bed, desk, chair, curtains, and cupboard. Some properties also offer WI-FI internet access and DSTV connections. Your house will be cleaned weekly and will offer secure parking for a car if required.

This option affords you the opportunity to stay with other students in a secure environment that is not as restrictive as a university dorm but still has its own house rules that you need to abide by.

• Cottage: You have your own unit that’s completely private. You could also share this cottage with a friend. You also don’t have to worry about maintenance related issues.

Other important information:

• Always deal with a reputable student letting agent that understands your budget and requirements. Your agent will present you with a professional lease agreement and offer you protection from unscrupulous landlords. Your agent will also ensure the standard and upkeep of the property.
• If you are under 21 then your parents will have to co-sign the lease agreement with you.
• Your lease will typically be for 1 year at a time.
• You want to stay within walking distance from campus – this saves time and money.
• Prices for a room in a digs start form R1900 – R3500. A cottage could cost you R2000 – R4500.

If you visit our website you will find more valuable information and tips on finding the perfect place to stay.

Good luck with the next phase of your lives.

Varsities run out of housing


Several universities are struggling to find sufficient residence accommodation for their students and are now conceding that the situation has reached crisis levels.

They are appealing to the Department of Higher Education for assistance, as they believe this problem affects students' academic performance.

South Africa has experienced a boom in higher education, with more than 74 0000 students now studying at universities.

Last year, former education minister Naledi Pandor told that R3,2-billion was earmarked for 2010/11 to 2011/12 for projects that will achieve national social and economic development goals. About 20% would be allocated to student housing.

The ministry said: "Inadequate student housing remains an obstacle to equity of access in higher education. Funding will support the creation of quality student housing, particularly at historically disadvantaged institutions in rural areas. Improved quality of student accommodation can help improve student success rates and eventual graduation rates."

While student housing projects are in the pipeline, a recent discussion forum comprising deans of students from universities in Gauteng, Limpopo and North West has highlighted that residence accommodation is "raising serious concerns".

Led by the Foundation of Tertiary Institutions of the Northern Metropolis (Fotim), the forum said universities need "support, advice and assistance in planning where students are going to live".

"We want universities to be very clear about student accommodation. We want the government to be aware of this challenge, which most universities seem to be facing," Fotim director Dr Zodwa Magwenzi told higher learning.

She said the high rate of student failures and increasing first-year dropout rates were worsened by the lack of student accommodation.

"It is thus important, especially for first-year students, to stay at residences in order to avoid this and for the purposes of proper orientation."

The forum indicated that students have had to find alternative places to live. This results in problems such as:
Students having to access private accommodation and becoming targets of crime;

"Slumlords" are renting out dilapidated buildings to "slumdog" students who pay exorbitant rent;

Landlords taking money from students and abandon the building, leaving students stranded without essential services; and

Long waiting lists causing students to hesitate and find alternative accommodation, resulting in them being stranded.

While the University of Limpopo denied that some of its students had been staying in converted water tanks, investigations by higher learning reveal that some students are subletting rooms at the University of Venda (Univen).

"Of course students sublet their rooms and there is no single room or double room housing the required number of students per room … there are always two or three more students in one room," said Univen SRC president Sylvester Motadi.

He said conditions at the recently built prefabricated student lodgings are "appalling", because the structures are weak and pose a safety hazard.

"It is difficult walking in those buildings without feeling scared," he said. However, students are confident the university leadership will address the matter.

Univen spokesperson Takalani Dzaga acknowledged that student housing had reached crisis levels but denied that students were sub-letting their residences, explaining that the university has an electronic control system that regulates access.

Dzaga said modular structures had been built to ease the accommodation burden as a short-term solution.

The university can accommodate only 2 036 students in its residences. This year it admitted an extra 2 266 students, bringing the total to 11 201.

University of the Western Cape spokesperson Luthando Tyhalibongo said the institution could accommodate only about 4 000 students at residences out of a total of 16 000. "We are in the process of increasing our capacity to meet the [high] demand for residences," he said.

South African Student Congress president Mawethu Rune said: "Institutions can't continue with this attitude of only being concerned with teaching and learning … they should also be concerned about the conditions in which students live as this impacts on student performance. There is a serious student accommodation problem in the country but students are not receiving the necessary support [from universities and government]."

The Department of Higher Education confirmed there is a severe shortage of student housing.

"The department will be implementing a new, larger student housing programme during the 2010 and 2011 academic years," Mfanafuthi Sithebe, a department spokesperson, said.

"This has to be seen in the context of the high capital costs involved in providing student housing on a university campus. For example, a standard residence with a capacity of 200 students in double rooms is expected to cost at least R30-million in 2010."

Source: Mail and Guardian Online
Web Address:

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Fake landlords, estate agents: Tenants beware

Tabloid Tuesday reporters

15 September 2009

Con artists steal house-hunters' deposits - and more.

This week in Tabloid Tuesday: South Africa's horrifying crime statistics haven't made property hunters and investors streetwise.

The case of the desperate landlord. A shrewd con artist will always tap into the big fears and greeds of the day. Take the panic about plummeting house prices and recessionary conditions: most people know that landlords are desperate people, right? And that they will offer their properties for low, low rentals to the first person who presents a cash deposit?

That certainly seems to be the thinking of Mischievous Melissa, a fraudster who has been successfully getting house-hunters to part with lump sum deposits for rental homes she doesn't own.

Table Talk, a popular freebie tabloid that circulates around Cape Town's Western Seaboard, reports this week on how Melissa has a dossier of cases building up against her at police stations in the Western Cape thanks to hoodwinking desperate home-seekers out of cash deposits.

Here's her apparent modus operandi:

· Step one. Look for a rental property available on the market.

· Step two. Advertise that property for a rental vastly below the market norm, on websites, in newspaper classified advertising sections and on shopping bulletin boards;

· Step three. Tell the droves of people who arrive to view the premises that she doesn't have the keys, but that they can look around the property and peer through the windows to get an idea of what's on offer;

· Step four. SMS eager tenants looking for a good deal, urging them pay their deposits fast;

· Step five. Move to another suburb and start again;

· Step six. Enlist others to help widen the scam.

Nicholas Walker, who is among the landlords who discovered a "fake ad" was placed in the Cape Argus, said a neighbour smelt a rat at his Monte Vista property. He told Walker he "saw lots of people coming to view the house, and they would all walk around the side and go through the gate to enter the back".

Commented Walker about the prospective tenants who have been losing money through this scam: "For R4 500, you must think that something is fishy. Rentals in the area range from R7 000 to R9 000. Why would you pay a deposit before seeing the house or making contact with the owner" Walker asked, adding that Melissa is "preying on people who are desperate".

Police spokesperson Captain Frederick van Wyk is reported as saying although "many people" have been conned, they are investigating "only" 10 cases where charges have been laid.

The good news for those hoodwinked is that the investigation, says Van Wyk, is "at a very critical and sensitive phase". That's detective speak for: "We have a good idea of who is running this scam and are about to make an arrest.

Thieving tenants. The shoe is often on the other foot. Tenants are often the perpetrators of crime and landlords the victims. Recent advice from TPN, an organisation that provides information services to landlords, highlights the perils of being a buy-to-let investor.

One of the first signs of trouble, warns Michelle Dickens, MD of TPN: "The tenant requires the property immediately, usually on a Saturday afternoon after banks are closed and wants to pay by cheque. The tenant signs a lease and says they will pay your rent in cash on the 1st, the landlord meets the tenant at the property to hand over keys and does an incoming inspection. The tenant has a ‘story' and promises to pay via EFT the next day. The landlord hands over the keys in trust and does not receive rent."

Whichever way you look at it, it seems like when things seem too financially easy, there's a catch.

Speaking of smoke ‘n mirrors. Investors who ploughed R300m into a property syndication scheme and creditors hoping to get some money back fast from the City Capital/Capital Investments set-up have been dealt an irritating blow. At the end of last week, syndication operators had a bunfight with liquidators, not over the millions tied up in property, but over the second-hand office furniture that together with a bakkie and trailer might at most fetch have fetched about R300 000-R400 000 last week on auction.

"In a last minute effort to stop the auctioning off of certain movable property, specifically office furniture, an urgent application was yesterday made to the Western Cape High Court by Dividend Commercial (Pty) Ltd against the liquidators of Capital Investments (Pty) Ltd (in liquidation). City Capital (also in provisional liquidation) effectively owns 15% of the Div-Vest group, of which Dividend Commercial is a part," said law firm Edward Nathan Sonnenbergs. The application was dismissed, and the furniture will be auctioned at a later date.

One wonders whether there's money hidden in a secret drawer, or stuffed in a chair cushion as, amid all that money being thrown at lawyers, no-one seems to have been actually using the furniture.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Should you pay for 'res' or buy student accommodation?

Students who choose to study away from home need accommodation, and at this time of the year that always raises the question for parents of whether they should plan to pay for ‘res’ or other rented space, or decide to buy their own student flat or house.

“Residence fees have increased in line with course costs and are now around R25 000 to R30 000 a year for a single room with meals during term-times. And the costs of staying in a student commune are roughly the same, with the average room rate being around R1200 a month and provision having to be made for meals and transport,“ says Berry Everitt, CEO of the Chas Everitt International property group.

“The accommodation outlay for a typical three-year degree is thus around R90 000 – an amount many parents feel could be better used to help buy a student flat or house on which they stand to make some return.”

For example, he says, purpose-built bachelor or studio flats for students have proliferated in recent years around many SA universities, and prices have shown a steady increase to around R500 000 on average, which at the current interest rates puts the annual bond repayment total at around R55 000, after payment of a R50 000 deposit.

“On top of this, parents will need to make provision for monthly sectional title levies and food costs, taking their three-year outlay to around R300 000. However with student numbers and demand for accommodation continuing to rise at most SA universities, they do stand to make a good profit on resale at the end of the study period.”

Writing in the Property Signposts newsletter, Everitt says another option for parents is to buy a bigger flat or a house where spare rooms can be let out to other students, with the rentals being used to offset the monthly home loan repayments while the property grows in value.

“This may seem like the best choice but here, too, there are additional factors to be taken into account such as maintenance costs in the case of freehold homes, the provision of kitchen equipment, furniture and cleaning services in a commune, and the fact that a student who lives further away from campus may need transport.

“In short, before making any decision, parents need to look carefully at the numbers and seriously consider other factors such as proximity to the university and maintenance of the property, preferably with the help of a seasoned estate agent who specialises in student accommodation.”

Article by:

Monday, September 7, 2009

Students warned of fake landlords

A Londonderry father has warned students looking for accommodation for the new term to beware of bogus landlords advertising on the internet.

The man, who wanted to remain anonymous, said his son paid a deposit to a man who claimed to have a house for rent in south Belfast last year.

He was among a group of students who lost hundreds of pounds in the scam.

The National Union of Students said there has been a rise in the number of such cases.

The students' parents contacted Foyle MLA Martina Anderson after they realised they had been caught up in the rental scam.

The Sinn Fein representative said the families had paid a deposit of almost £800.

Unanswered calls

She added: "They spent weeks trying to get paperwork and keys, both of which never materialised.

"The owner never answered their calls, the contact ran cold and they lost all their money."

She urged those seeking student accommodation to exercise caution.

"For many of those students it will be the first time they have lived outside the family home and looking for accommodation can be a daunting task particularly in a new area.

"I would appeal to students and their parents to go through well established letting agencies and check the track record of private landlords who advertise on the internet before they sign any tenancy agreements or hand over large deposits."

Friday, August 28, 2009

Should I be a student landlord? UK

Posted by Catherine Deshayes on Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Many large portfolio landlords have started as student landlords letting their property to hoards of marauding students. The question for many parents of students looking to go to university this year or other property investors or landlords is should I join the ranks of student landlords?

Growing student letting market
There is no doubt that the student letting market continues to buck the trend in other areas of the economy. The resulting down turn has resulted in record numbers of students applying to enter higher education this year.

The latest figures show that application for degree course are up by 57,000 on last year as the economic downturn results in many students putting off work or ‘upskilling' in an attempt to avoid the dole cue.

According to Knight Frank the UK student population has grown consistently over the last 10 years. Total student numbers have grown from 1.8 million in 1997 to 2.5 million in 2007. Savills expect this to hit three million full and part time students by 2014.

Growth has been driven in the main by domestic UK undergraduate demand. However, there is a trend to rising numbers of foreign student, with participation of overseas students at UK universities rising 67 per cent over the past decade.

Knight Frank research shows that in 1997 they accounted for 11 per cent (international students) and 21 per cent (postgraduates) of all students; by 2007 these figures had increased to 15 per cent and 24 per cent respectively.

Both international students and postgraduates are more likely to opt for purpose built private student housing rather than shared houses. Foreign student numbers are expected to grow from 15 per cent of all students in 2008 to 21 per cent by 2018.

Knight Frank in their Report produced this year estimated that London alone requires an additional 100,000 student bedspaces.

Student lettings niche letting market
Letting to students is a very niche part of the private lettings market requiring particular skills and an approach. It's more complex and potentially involves the landlord complying with a greater deal of regulation than a standard buy-to-let.

This is because many student lets will be classed as a house in multiple occupation (HMO). Landlords letting certain types of HMOs are now required to be licensed by their local authority. In order to obtain an HMO licence landlords will have to meet certain fire standards and accommodation standards that can be expensive to comply with. For example this can often involve having a newly installed fire alarm system and fire escape costing tens of thousands and also potentially taking value of the property because of it would then be no longer attractive to the owner occupier market.

Therefore for many first time landlords they should avoid investing in a property that is a potential HMO. The easiest way around this is to ensure that they only let their property to 4 or less student tenants as a rental property can only be classified as a HMO if let to 5 or more tenants.

In addition, student lets require a greater amount of supervision and management input. This is because student properties have a greater turnover of tenants than many buy-to-let properties occupied by professional tenants.

In addition many student lets will be required to be furnished. The level of furnishing is often specified by the university and landlords will need to comply with standards set out by the student accommodation office in order to be featured on the universities accommodation list circulated to many students looking for accommodation.

Students can make good tenants:
A student landlord can fit more student tenants into a property. A 3 bed house will frequently accommodate 4 sharers - and that's without letting the cupboard! This is more intensive than a let to a single tenant or even a house of professional sharers which can have a potential benefit on the investment yields.

Student tenants aren't quite as fussy. Students particularly undergraduates have tended not to be as fussy as professional tenants. These type of tenats are more prepared to put up with slightly outdated kitchens and colourful bathroom suites than design conscious professional tenants.

However, landlords shouldn't be complacent; with the advent of more and more private halls standards are rising and mature and foreign students often demand professional levels of accommodation.Student tenants sometime pay rent in advance.

Some student tenants or more accurately their parents will often pay upfront for each semester or term. This is handy for a landlord as they have the rent in advance with which to pay any mortgage or other costs.

Student tenants are bright. This in theory makes dealing with them and sorting out problems easier. Catherine Bancroft-Rimmer, author of The Landlord's Guide to Student Letting comments "You do get exceptions," "but once you've explained why you need them to do something they are usually quite willing to go along with it." From my experience there is nothing worse than trying to resolve a problem with a thick tenant. The phrase "like pulling teeth" comes to mind.

Student rental accommodation supply
There is no doubt that in many areas supply of rental accommodation by student landlords has failed to keep up with demand. This is especially true in London where a recent report by Knight Frank highlighted a shortfall of 100,000 bedspaces in London alone. However, like many aspects of buy-to-let investment the fundamentals of any market are essentially local.

Therefore a prospective student landlord should ensure that they do their own local research by talking to local rental agents and University Accommodation Offices before factoring in their expected rents to their investment calculations.

The competition amongst student landlords renting to students in some areas is a very strong. Some areas are already oversupplied according to Simon Thompson Director of Accommodation for Students.

"Leeds is quite overpopulated with student accommodation, as are the Fallowfield and Withington areas of Manchester."

Universities and increasingly private developers are constructing purpose built halls of residences. These aim for the top end of the market but none the less it is worth a landlord talking to the local planners to find out what is in the pipeline.

Student rent levels
The strong demand for student lettings and the shortage of supply has resulted in rents growing 10per cent in London where the shortage is particularly acute as London is the premiere centre for student accommodation in Europe with over 40 universities. In the rest of the UK rent level growth was less strong growing by only 8 per cent but still outpacing the rest of the residential investment market where rents actually fell by almost 2 per cent over the last year according to the Rentindex.

The latest figures on student rents released by, the UK's No 1 student accommodation website, reveal that the average UK weekly student rent continues to rise. At £62.40, their figure is up 1.5 per cent on last year and 19 per cent on the comparable figure five years ago. AFS figures are based on rents from over 51,000 properties across 75 cities in the UK and includes figures from purpose built student accommodation and private landlords.

The ideal type of property for a student landlord
Student tenants generally prefer to go into Halls for the first year after which they then look for accommodation in groups of 4 or 5. Our research shows that different student groups have varying accommodation requirements.

Post graduates for instance frequently prioritise a peaceful working environment and their demands are very similar to that of professional renters. Undergraduates are more likely to request accommodation located close to entertainment facilities and town centres and are more willing to live in larger shared properties.Location is often a key factor. Students like to be near each other. Chris Horne Editor of expert landlord website Property Hawk says, "If you can find out where the ‘cool' bars and places to hang out are; then a property close by will definitely have a marketing advantage. Essential is that your property has good access by public transport to the University campuses as well as the night life and basic shops and services. Not all students have cars!"A three bedroom property is probably ideal. This is because with a little bit of work, it should be possible to convert one of the ground floor rooms to an additional bedroom thereby allowing you as the landlord to accommodate 4 students. If you provide accommodation for 5 or more students, then you will very likely have to obtain a licence for your property as a House In Multiple Occupation (HMO).

This in itself is not a disaster in that it will probably only cost a couple of hundred pounds from the local authority. However, what could be more difficult is that in order to obtain the licence the Local Authority may insist on certain minimum standards in the property. Examples of this are sinks in every bedroom along with other expensive fire safety measures.

These works will not only be costly but potentially they will detract from the attraction of your property to the owner occupation market when you come to sell. To avoid this most student landlords are best advised at looking to keep the maximum number of student renters to 4. The exception to this might be where a landlord was looking at making it into a more involved commercial undertaking in which case buying an already licensed HMO would probably be cheaper and make more sense.Victorian terraced properties often provide ideal accommodation for a student landlord because of the generous room sizes. Large spacious rooms are particularly appealing to students as these are often more than just a place to sleep. In theory they will be places of study and also their private space to retreat to when all the partying and communal living gets too much! Landlords should therefore look for properties with 3 generous double rooms and one living room that can be converted to this.

Insuring your student rental property
Insurance is also an issue. Finding the right landlord insurance is essential as not all insurance companies are keen on student tenants and they may impose higher excesses or charge higher premiums where students are involved.

It is absolutely essential to ensure that a landlord insurance broker is fully aware of the position if you let to students. This is because many insurers consider that the type of tenant to be a "material fact". This means that if there is a claim and you have not disclosed this, they can quite legitimately seek to repudiate a claim.

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Tuesday, August 18, 2009

No royal treatment for Princess Eugenie

The Journal

STUDENT digs are not known for being plush, but the ones in Newcastle have been given the royal seal of approval.

Princess Eugenie starts her degree at Newcastle University next month and has taken up a place in a £96-a-week hall of residence.

The 19-year-old, who is sixth in line to the throne, says she wants to be treated just like any other student and will be sharing a living room and kitchen with five other undergraduates.
The Queen’s granddaughter will have her own small en-suite bedroom with a single bed, wardrobe, chest of drawers and desk.

Her choice of accommodation is in stark contrast to her big sister, Beatrice, who turned down digs at London’s Goldsmiths College last September and moved into an apartment in St James’s Palace. However, Eugenie’s move to the halls won’t be cheap, as she’ll be joined by a team of Metropolitan Police bodyguards, costing more than £250,000 a year.

The guards, who will be with the princess around the clock, are relocating to Newcastle. Last month, two detectives travelled to the city with Eugenie to look around the campus and inspect her future accommodation.

Eugenie plans to study for a BA in English and history of art. A number of her friends are also thought to be coming to Newcastle.

Fortunately for the party-loving princess, the university also boasts one of the best student social scenes in the country with six bars to chose from.

Eugenie achieved two As in her A-levels in art and English literature and a B in history of art. Her gap year saw her partying in places as far flung as Australia, South Africa, Cambodia and Goa.

A friend said: “She chose Newcastle because it offered a great degree course and it seems a really fun place to go. Eugenie is a very down to earth girl who hates using her title and she was adamant that she wanted to live in halls with her friends. She just wants to be treated like any other undergraduate.

“The issue of police protection is totally out of her hands. She hates it as much as anyone.”
Eugenie is not the first royal of her generation to take up a place in halls of residence. Prince William spent his first year in university accommodation when he went to St Andrew’s.

On the princess’s move to Newcastle, the city’s Lord Mayor, Mike Cookson, said: “Newcastle is a beautiful, lively, safe and welcoming city, which is justifiably popular with students.

“We’re very pleased that the princess will have the opportunity to experience all of this for herself.”

A Newcastle University spokesman said he couldn’t comment on any individual student.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Recession boost for student towns

University cities defy property slump as new graduates snub tough jobs market, reports Hilary Osborne

The Observer, Sunday 2 August 2009

The recession has had a big impact on the property market, but one sector appears to be benefiting from the downturn. Demand for student digs is rising due to an increase in the number of A-level students going on to further education and new graduates snubbing the jobs market in favour of a higher degree.

"Undergraduate [course] applications rose 9% in the 2008/09 academic year and are forecast to continue growing," says Lucian Cook, director of research at property firm Savills.

"Postgraduate numbers are expected to see a similar surge in response to weakness in the jobs market. Purpose-built student accommodation has failed to keep up, diverting students into the private rental sector where they compete with aspiring first-time buyers."

This is the case at the University of St Andrews, on the east coast of Scotland. Local estate agent Ian Morton, a partner at Bradburne & Co says the university saw a surge in numbers last September and this year could be equally busy. "People are not taking gap years because they realise it is hard to get a job," he says. "Last year there was a major shortage of accommodation and the university had to rent from the private sector."

Rents are high - top digs fetch £500 a month, a room - so investors and parents are still keen to buy, paying around £150,000 for each lettable bedroom.

Scottish government figures for the wider area of Fife show property prices are down just 0.8% year on year, against a fall of 4.4% in Edinburgh.

Prices are also holding up in the student areas of Nottingham, according to Paul Perriam, area director of estate agent William H Brown.

"The core student area is Lenton. It is primarily Victorian terraced houses which are now almost entirely given over to student accommodation," he says. "Prices have held up really well - they have come down, but not to the extent of the general market." According to Perriam, a room in a good property can attract £75 a week .

In Canterbury, Mark Weller, an area partner for Connells, says several investors have added five or six student homes to their portfolios this year. "Properties suitable for student buy-to-lets are selling quickly, particularly three-bedroom semi-detached and end-terrace houses, that can be extended or converted in some way to produce four- and five-bedroom properties," he says.

But there are signs the general slowdown is having some impact, even in St Andrews. Morton says some parents who had planned to sell up as soon as their children left university have opted to hold on to property while they wait for an uplift in prices.

In Norwich, where students at the University of East Anglia flock to an area called the Golden Triangle, Joanne Pennells of haart estate agents says fewer properties have come back on to the market than in previous years.

Just as the student property market has specific drivers, it also has its own threats. One problem is that universities are creating more accommodation for second and third-year students.

In Durham, building by the university has led to a fall in demand from investors and parents, says Geoff Graham of estate agent JW Wood. "There seems to be a bit of an oversupply," he says. "Landlords have been finding they can't get tenants, or where they would have five in a house they are now getting three or four, or the rents they can get are lower."

Another potential problem in England is proposed changes to the rules on houses in multiple occupation (HMOs), which form part of a government consultation set to close on Friday.
The change, designed to reduce the "studentification" of large areas of towns, would force anyone letting a home to more than three unrelated people to get planning permission to make their property a HMO - now this only applies if there are six or more tenants.

Giles Ferin, a planning specialist at law firm EMW Picton Howells, says it could have a serious impact on the property market if the government adopts the proposals. "A lot of parents buy properties for little Jimmy or Jenny to live in while at university, and rent rooms to their friends to cover the mortgage costs ... this would potentially scupper that. If the number of people you need to cover the mortgage is going to be your child, plus more than two others, you are going to have to get planning permission."

This will add extra cost and time for the first set of people converting these properties and will mean they can't go back on to the market as regular homes. It's by no means a done deal that the rules will come into force. But if they do, they could be a bigger concern in many university towns than the recession.

Swine Flu - Facts

Basic facts about the new fluWhat is novel influenza A/H1N1?

This is a new flu virus infecting humans. It was first detected in humans in the US in April, 2009, but was probably causing infections in Mexico for a period before this.

Initially this new flu virus was thought to be a type of flu virus that infects pigs and sometimes spreads to humans (hence the initial name of "swine flu"). However, further studies have revealed that it is not a virus that came directly from pigs but is rather a new virus formed by the recombination of several different genetic elements from pigs, avian and human species.

What are symptoms of the H1N1 flu - swine flu?
The symptoms are not different from those of seasonal flu. They include fever, muscle and chest pains, cough, sore throat and headache. It is only in rare cases that you will find a person infected having diahorrea and vomiting.

How does the H1N1 virus spread?
Available information on this new virus suggests that it spreads from person to person much like "seasonal influenza" which is mainly via respiratory droplet transmission. Just like seasonal flu it is airborne and spreads through coughing and sneezing by an infected person. When sneezing or coughing, an infected person releases respiratory droplets into the air and the next person will be infected by breathing in those droplets. In addition, infection can result if there is contact with inanimate surfaces such as door knobs or hands that are contaminated with the flu virus and then the person touches his or her mouth, nose or eyes.
The virus can also be contracted by coming into contact with an infected person or even by talking to one. It can be contracted from a contaminated hand after an infected person has coughed or sneezed on that hand.

How long can an infected person spread this virus to others?
At the current time, it is believed that this virus has the same properties in terms of spread as seasonal flu viruses. With seasonal flu, studies have shown that people may be contagious from one day before they develop symptoms to up to seven days after they get sick.

Children, especially younger children, might potentially be contagious for longer periods. It is therefore important for people to stay at home for at least seven days when they have symptoms to reduce spread to other people.

What if it goes undetected or untreated?
The majority of patients experience mild symptoms and make a rapid and full recovery, often in the absence of any form of medical treatment.

Is there a need for the public to panic?
Experience in other affected countries indicates that this virus spreads rapidly through communities. It is not possible to contain this virus by quarantine of contacts and travel restrictions. Social distancing of affected persons, usually by home isolation, may to some extent reduce spread. From the experience of this disease in other countries, spread is inevitable.

What age group is mostly affected by the virus in South Africa?
Although older people were commonly the most infected with seasonal flu, the H1N1 virus is now affecting young people the most.

How can the virus be prevented from spreading?
Cover your nose with a tissue when sneezing, and mouth when coughing, to prevent the infected droplets from being released into the air. Make sure you dispose of the tissue.

Answers by Professor Barry Schoub, a director of the National Institute for Communicable Diseases, a division of the National Health Laboratory Service
This article was originally published on page 1 of The Star on August 04, 2009

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Commune Policy - Comments by ERA property group

The newly published proposals for communes in the City of Johannesburg give cause for concern and could open the way to abuse if they are not properly policed.

So says Gerhard Kotzé, CEO of the ERA South Africa property group who points out that the proposals provide for an increase in the maximum number of individuals that may live in an approved commune, from the four allowed at present to 10.

The proposals are contained in the Draft Residential Commune Policy document published this month by the City of Johannesburg and are already being talked of as a blueprint for other metros.

The need for affordable, high-density student and worker accommodation is clear, says Kotzé. “On the other hand, though, there appears to be a growing number of illegal communes that often go hand-in-hand with higher crime rates, vehicle congestion, urban blight, poor sanitation, the activities of slum lords and other problems.

“Currently communal living in the City of Johannesburg is regulated by no less than 13 different town planning schemes, and different town planning processes are applied to achieve the same use in terms of communal living.

“And while Residential 1 zoning in most of those town planning schemes does allow for the erection of buildings that can be used for communal accommodation, this does not enable the use of a dwelling house for a commune as a primary right. So as the new proposals point out, the need to regulate communes further is apparent.”

What is more, the policy objective is to improve the decision-making process on which the commune applications are evaluated, assessed and finalised, in order to ensure adherence to the Housing Act and Rental Housing Act; to set standards for properties to be used as communes; to provide safe, affordable and varied housing in line with the National Building Regulations; and to provide management strategies for all premises used as communes.

“And there is nothing in that with which anyone could quibble. Nor do I have an issue with the fines that would be applied for failing to comply, amounting to 7,5% of the value of the property in question annually, pending court processes,” Kotzé says.

“As always, though, the devil is in the detail and my issue is with enforcement. While I certainly don’t advocate a kind of ‘commune police’, clearly there will have to be zero tolerance of any breaches of the new regulations or we could risk a situation where, as in the collection of municipal rates and taxes, there is allegedly no respect for legal process, thus inviting abuse.”

Article by:

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Energy saving tips

There has been much debate about the increased electricity tariffs to be implemented from 1 July 2009, and although they have not been finalised it certainly looks like prices will rise between 20 to 35%, so we need to be prepared.

What can we do?

Tenants running an inefficient 2kW heater for 6 hours a night can dramatically increase your monthly electricity bill if you live in a flat, cottage or small townhouse. When buying a heater check to see how much electricity it consumes. By checking the instantaneous consumption on your prepaid meter you can easily see how many watts a heater is using and adjust your usage accordingly.

Landlords, by empowering your tenants to easily monitor their consumption with a prepaid meter, surprise "unbelievable" bills can be avoided.

Green tip of the month: Instead of boiling the kettle every time you drink a cup of tea, boil it once, fill a thermos flask and you will have hot water all day. Boiling a half filled kettle can cost about 10c each time. If you do this 6 times a day it will cost you R18.00 per month. If there is more that one family member this cost can multiply - so the answer is to either all drink tea at the same time, invest in a thermos flask.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Thumbs up for commune policy proposal - Northcliff Melville Times

Thuli Malinga

Let and Stay chairman Caj van Zyl gave the new draft commune policy proposal a thumbs up.

This follows months of bickering by residents who initially objected to the policy presented by the City of Johannesburg.

According to van Zyl, high density development areas have been identified mostly on arterial routes around the university. These developments would entail 250 dwelling units per hectare and act as buffer zones.

Van zyl said, "In all likelihood, the number of tenants per property will relate to an equation where a single room needs to be a minimum size of 7sqm and a double room 14sqm"

"Certain community members have made arguments to cap the amount of students to 10 per property but this seems unfeasible as a blanket rule for all types of properties and a heavily debated topic", he said. Building rules to be adhered to would be:
  • One parking bay per tenant - can be relaxed depending on proximity to the BRT and University.
  • Caretaker or manager must reside on the property.
  • A3 signage on the outside of the property indicating the caretaker's telephone number.
  • A maximum of 4 people per bathroom.
  • A health permit will be required with bi-annual inspections.
  • The university should compile a handbook educating students about neighborhood relations and community living in the suburb

While this is in motion, student representatives asked the city council to step up police visibility in the affected areas.

However, van Zyl explained that certain unreasonable members have tried to unfairly correlate noice issues and conduct in 7th st Melville to that of students living in the broader area.

"Other community members are scared of the influx of first time workers to the area. This seems totally ubsurd considering normal economic principals.

"Professional landlords will only accommodate tenants that are able to pay the required rent and below market rent is not feasable when conducting an upmarket boarding house that needs to adhere to all the latest legislation, costs and limitations."

Nonetheless, van Zyl said his general feeling was that the policy was welcomed by the majority of community members and landlords.

Monday, June 8, 2009

CBD student accommodation popular


With record numbers of students entering universities this year, demand for student accommodation in central Johannesburg is starting to outstrip supply.

Inner city developer Aengus Lifestyle Properties (ALP) has seen the number of students renting its refurbished apartments in central Johannesburg grow from 142 last year to over 1,200 with this year's student intake."There are about a ten times oversubscription for available student rooms," says ALP CEO, Richard Rubin. "University residences are battling to cope with the increased demand."Last year about 22,000 more learners than in previous years passed Matric with university entrance, putting pressure on Wits University and the University of Johannesburg to accommodate more students than usual this year.

According to some estimates there are more than 7,000 students needing accommodation and just 700 available rooms on or near Johannesburg university campuses. Rubin says demand has also been driven by a massive influx of foreign and out-of-province students over the past few years as the city's universities are regarded as among the country's premier academic institutions.

Aengus Lifestyle Properties began upgrading a number of buildings in Braamfontein into upmarket student accommodation last year. "So far this year, we are oversubscribed in terms of tenant demand for these buildings," says Rubin.

Now the company is looking at developing the YMCA building on Rissik and Smit Streets into a mixed-use development incorporating student accommodation."Students are tired of staying in dormitory-style accommodation where they may have to share bathrooms and other amenities," says Rubin.

Rubin says the company has not yet offered the student units for sale to investors because of the current economic conditions in the property market. "But as interest rates continue to decline, but so investor sentiment is likely to shift back towards purchasing and we may look to actively marketing sectional title units for sale later in the year," he says.

Net rental returns on units in the suite of inner city properties managed by the group continue to hold at between 10% and 14%."We expect student accommodation to make up an increasing proportion of our property portfolio," says Rubin.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Studentville looms for suburbs

Joburg council to go ahead with controversial policy on communes

By Candice Bailey - Saturday Star

Up to 40 percent of the houses in Melville, Westdene, Auckland Park and and surrounding suburbs could become student homes if the City of Joburg's controversial student commune policy goes ahead.

The council is continuing with its Residential Commune Policy to regulate student communes, despite the outrage of residents who will be affected. This week, the council's suggestion of a 40 percent student home ratio in the areas was rejected by most residents, who are instead proposing a 20 percent allocation to students' houses.

The residents' argument, according to Melville Residents Association chairwoman Liza de Wet, is that there is already a high-density student accommodation area proposed and that this should be adequate. They argue that a family house has four people while student houses have up to six people per house.

The policy intends to address residents' complaints that their quality of life has been lost because of overcrowded and rowdy student houses. Constant complaints of noise, regular partying, traffic congestion and illegal parking are just some of the problems that residents face.

The policy is the council's answer to this, as it would regulate the number of students per property and specify acceptable social behaviour.But residents from Melville and surrounding areas were initially totally against the policy, saying it would not address the problems and would transform their areas into "studentvilles".

The council called for comment from locals at the end of March, before the draft was finalised. This week, the city had a follow-up meeting with locals, where they took into account residents' concerns for the last time before they thrash out the final details for the second version of the draft policy.If it is agreed on, commune owners would need to apply for permits through the department of environmental health to run communes.

The first version had sought a high-density student area in a 2km radius around the university.The amended one now proposes the high-density strip along Portland and Perth roads, High Street and Kingsway along the Bus Rapid Transit route. Parking requirements, however, would be more relaxed, with student communes where students could use buses as opposed to normal communes with working people.

Cindy Grobbelaar, a DA councillor for the area, described the meeting as positive, even though some residents were still against the idea. Developers are asking for 10 students per property to make it viable, while Grobbelaar is suggesting six. Residents at the meeting indicated that up to eight students would still be acceptable.

Caj van Zyl, a resident and investor in the area, who also owns a letting management agency, explained that from a business perspective, it was only viable to have 10 people in a house.His argument is that it's not fair to have a blanket rule on the number of tenants on all sizes of property."There should be minimum-size single room and double room, along with the other standards, like four people per bathroom and various sizes for communal areas."This would mean that bigger properties could accommodate more students.Van Zyl said he understood residents' concerns about noise pollution and slumlording, but the correct management could deal with that. His worry was that the council should make the policy easier for landlords to comply with.

De Wet was reluctant to comment on the policy, saying she wanted to see the second draft first."There are still some concerns. But there has been a positive shift and there is communication open."City spokesman Nthatise Modingoane said the finalised policy would be tabled with the council at the end of the month. The amended policy will be available on the city's website from next week as well as its regional offices.

The envisaged time for approval of the policy is August or September, after it has been considered by the relevant committees.

Published on the web by Star on June 5, 2009.
© Star 2009. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Johannesburg Commune Policy - Highlights of the 2 June 09 meeting

At the meeting of 2 June, the COJ presented their new draft commune policy proposal.

Highlights of the policy are;
  • Consent use application to conduct a boarding house.
  • In all likelihood the amount of tenants per property will relate to an equation where a single room needs to be a minimum size of 7sqm and a double room 14sqm - certain members have made arguments to cap the amount of students to 10 per property but this seems unfeasible as a blanket rule for all types of properties and a heavily debated topic.
  • Building rules to be adhered to.
  • 1 parking bay per tenant - can be relaxed depending on proximity to the BRT and University.
  • Caretaker or manager must reside on the property.
  • A3 signage on the outside of the property indicating caretaker tel number.
  • A maximum of 4 people per bathroom.
  • Health permit required with bi-annual inspections.
  • University to compile a handbook educating students about neighborhood relations and community living in the suburbs.

High density development areas have been identified - mostly found on the arterial routes around the university. High density would entail 250 dwelling units per hectare.

Student representatives have asked the council to step up police visibility in the affected areas.

Monday, June 1, 2009

BRT - Bus Rapid Transit System

1. What is BRT?

In order to deal with the increasing transport problems faced in Jo'burg today, the City is pleased to introduce the Rea Vaya Bus Rapid Transit System.

The Rea Vaya Bus Rapid Transit System (BRT) is designed to provide a high quality and affordable transport system, which is fast and safe.

Rea Vaya BRT comprises a middle lane for large, high tech buses which will transport you comfortably and quickly around Johannesburg using specific designated routes, enclosed bus stations along the routes and a high tech control centre to ensure your Rea Vaya experience is a world class one.

2. Why BRT?

Bus Rapid Transit is a world class transport system being used in developing countries very similar to South Africa, to combat congestion and provide better public transport. By introducing this world class transport system Johannesburg, and all the other cities taking part such as Cape Town, Tshwane and the Nelson Mandela Metro will have many opportunities for development and will help bring in foreign investment to the country. BRT is a world class system which all South Africans can be proud of!

3. How does BRT work?

Buses will run in exclusive, dedicated lanes in the centre of existing roads. Smaller feeder buses will bring people from the outer areas to the stations on the trunk routes. This will extend Rea Vaya's network to areas far beyond the main trunk routes. Buses will be either 75- or 112 capacity vehicles, depending on passenger volumes and will operate from about 150 stations, positioned half a kilometre apart. They will run every three minutes in peak times and every 10 minutes in off-peak times and it will be possible to catch a bus from 5am to midnight.

Rea Vaya will not compete with other transport systems such as Metrorail or the Gautrain. This is an urban transport network that will feed into and complement existing networks to ensure the most effective movement of people across the city.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Student Letting - where to start (UK)

Where to Start?
Research is key, if you are looking to buy in an area or city unknown to you, then it is essential to understand which parts are right for you and your prospective students. Many cities have more than one major college or uni, some providing campuses solely for students; this is generally a good place to start.

Students want to live near other students, close to uni and have easy access to the centre of town. Avoid areas where the locals have a bad reputation with students!

What to Look For?
Before looking it is good to have an idea of what you are looking for, depending on your experience, budget, time scale and confidence. Larger properties usually have greater potential for profit but also carry a greater risk. Luckily planning regulations are set to change to make it easier for owners to make home improvements. For example: adding bathrooms or bedrooms, small extensions and tackling climate change, which should help you develop your student house to maximize profit and desirability.

A successful student house is situated near an academic landmark, such as a university, library or hospital. It has two or more bedrooms, ideally around 4 or 5, since the more students living there, the more rent is generated. Also communal areas will always be appreciated and could be the clincher that keeps your property in demand. If your property does not meet the above requirements, it might be more suitable targeting professionals instead of students, who are generally looking for fewer bedrooms, good size open plan kitchens, off street parking and a garden. It is essential to know the right target audience for your property.
Things to remember

Choosing a reliable letting agent is crucial, make sure they are registered with the ARLA (Association of Residential Letting Agents) to avoid being scammed and a good letting agent should make your student letting as stress free as possible. Registering the house with the local university or academic establishment will also help attract as many students as possible. Be careful to make sure your property complies with the latest health and safety regulations, including things like having a valid gas safety certificate.

Finally it's a good idea to insert a damage clause into the tenancy agreement, to cover and protect your possessions / furnishings within the house.

Article Source : Industrial Real Estate

Comment sought on housing by-laws

Written by Rudo Mungoshi

Thursday, 14 May 2009

Complaints from neighbours have prompted the City to draw up by-laws regarding communal housing, particularly regarding student digs.

A set of draft by-laws is being prepared to crack down on overcrowding in accommodation intended for students and low-income workers, and the City wants public input into its plans.

A public meeting will be held on Thursday, 28 May from 6pm to 8.30pm at the council chambers in the University of Johannesburg's new administration building on its Kingsway Campus, to discuss the future of communal housing.

According to the assistant director of development planning and facilitation, Linah Dube, the draft policy seeks to address slumlording and reduce the number of illegal establishments in the city.

The draft policy is being formulated in response to complaints made by residents staying close to the universities of Johannesburg and the Witwatersrand regarding the behaviour of students living in near-by communes.

The complaints relate to:

  • The high incidence of anti-social behaviour, including noise, particularly late at night;
  • Littering;
  • Traffic congestion and illegal parking, especially in front of drive ways and on pavements; and
  • Overcrowded houses.

"The residents are not only complaining about the students. They are also concerned about slumlording and the general decay of the residential area. The slumlords often take advantage of less fortunate students and lowly paid workers and crowd them in inhumane conditions for profit," she said.

There are about 63 000 students registered at the two niversities, which only provide accommodation for 15 000 students. The rest of those students whose homes are not in Johannesburg, have to find living space in nearby neighbourhoods.

Communal housing provides an income for property owners and renters, while meeting the need for suitable accommodation of students and the working class.

Comments on the draft by-laws should be submitted before Monday, 22 June to Linah Dube, at the Metro Centre, 10th floor, A Block; or by email to
or by phone on 011 407 6906/21.

Copies of the draft by-laws will be available online from 3 June, and at the following Customer Care Centres from 4 June:

  • Region A, Midrand: 300 15th Road, Randiespark, Midrand. Tel: 011 203 3605 / 3300;
  • Region B, Northcliff: ACA Krans Building, 35 Symons Road, Auckland Park. Tel: 011 718 9612 / 3 or 011 718 9650;
  • Region C, Roodepoort: Ground Floor, Roodepoort Civic Centre, 100 Christiaan de Wet Road, Florida Park. Tel: 011 761 0145 / 0146 / 0140 / 0440;
  • Region D, Soweto: Sophie Masite Civic Centre, Koma Road, Jabulani. Tel: 011 986 0178 / 0296 / 0077;
  • Diepkloof: Diepkloof People's Centre, 729 Zone 1, Talani Street, Diepkloof. Tel: 011 985 1003;
  • Region E, Alexandra: 8th Avenue, Alexandra. Tel: 011 531 5591;
  • Sandton: A Block, Civic Centre, Sandton. Tel: 011 881 6241;
  • Region F, inner city: ground floor, CJ Cronje Building, 80 Loveday Street, Braamfontein. Tel: 011 376 8600;
  • Braamfontein: Amukelani Masia Stakeholder Relationship Management, ground floor, A Block Metro Centre Building, 158 Loveday Street, Braamfontein. Tel: 011 407 6700 or 073 2531538;
  • Region G, Ennerdale: corner Katz and Smith streets, Ennerdale Extension 9. Tel: 011 213 0056; or
  • Joburg South: Eureka House, 92 Marlborough Road, Springfield. Tel: 011 681 8000.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Auckland Park - Student Hotpsot

Buy-to-let investors are beginning to take an interest once more in Auckland Park, which is one of Johannesburg’s prime spots for student accommodation.

So says Lewis Kennett, sales agent for leading local agency Homenet/ Harcourts Jon Rosenberg, who notes that investor interest has been rekindled by the fact that entry-level bachelor lofts in the area are now being marketed for around R350 000.

Additionally, there is no shortage of rental demand. Set between Wits University and the University of Johannesburg, Auckland Park attracts thousands of students annually, and is also popular with academics, doctors and nurses at the nearby hospitals and media workers at the SABC and Mediapark complexes, who pay an average R3000 monthly rent.

Says Kennett: “Additionally, there is no shortage of takers for rooms at the student houses and communes in Auckland Park which generally go for around R1700pm. However, most owners are opting to hold on to these properties as they can afford to do so.”

More upmarket accommodation is also available to students at The Yard, where sectional title units are renting for up to R9000pm and cost over R1m to buy.

As for the ordinary freehold properties in Auckland Park, they are being targeted by black diamonds and increasingly, Indian buyers. Indeed, notes Kennett, the Muslim community has grown to such an extent that a mosque is currently being built in the area.

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Monday, May 25, 2009

Student Loans

Getting an education has never been so important, but how does one go about financing such an expensive investment?

A student loan is probably the first and last dread of every student! Its the endless thought of debt hanging over your head with a little factor called interest still playing with your mind. But it's still probably the most utilised option and this method has helped thousands of South Africans achieve successful qualifications!

So how do you go about sorting out your student loans? It's quite a procedure but it's quicker if you do your preparation first.

Step 1: You need to have been accepted into a South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) accredited institution.

Step 2: You need a valid ID.

Step 3: Proof of Registration at the institution.

Step 4: A set of your previous results (this can be matric, varsity, college etc, wherever you last studied)

Step 5: Life insurance: If you haven’t had a life insurance policy made for you, the bank will arrange one for you.

Step 6: Proof of residence not more than three months old.

Step 7: You need to find someone to stand surety for your loan, this person needs to have a full time job and not be black listed. The person will be responsible for paying the monthly interest on the loan during the period of study as well as stand guarantor for the loan. The person needs to provide a copy of their ID, a salary slip not older than three months and marriage status documents (i.e. if the individual is married in community of property etc). Finally the individual
standing surety will also need to provide proof of residency and again not older than three months old.

Hectic we know, you pretty much giving everything except a sample of your DNA.

Okay here are some quick tips and facts:

1.The individual who is taking the loan can actually stand surety for themselves! Provided they have a full time job and a salary slip not older than three months (yet again another three month rule!!)
2.Compare options that various banks and financial institutions have to offer, you may be able to negotiate a better interest rate.
3.Once you start paying off your loan, speak to your bank about an extension in the case of you not being able to make the full payment in the allocated time.

Standard Bank:
First National Bank:


Saturday, May 16, 2009

Wireless Internet to be introduced at all residences

Let and Stay is rolling out a very exciting program to have all its managed residences connected to the Internet.

We will be introducing wireless technology to offer all our tenants access to the Internet at broadband speeds.

The costs would be very affordable and will be cheaper than for instance a 3G connection from one of the cellular phone operators. Tenants would be able to buy their bandwidth online (credit card or SMS) or with prepaid vouchers available from our office.

With your WI-FI enabled desktop or laptop you would now be able to be part of the online community and hopefully contribute to your studies (and music collection) more productively. In addition to your data connectivity you would also be able to use ADSL phone technology such as Skype to keep in touch with your family and friends.

Non Let and Stay landlords wanting to offer this service to their tenants are welcome to contact Let and Stay to discuss the option of installing this system at their properties and offering their tenants this value added service.

State of the art IT system to be introduced

Let and Stay has embarked on an ambitious revamp of their IT system offering a myriad of (free) benefits to landlords and tenants alike. They have partnered with an international group to offer the following benefits with this new system:

Landlords will be able to log online and in real time view 24/7;
  • Tenants in their properties.

  • Disbursement history.

  • Property inspection reports with photos.

  • Investment reports such as vacancy rates and extra charges vs income.

  • Online statements

  • Updating of details and correspondence with Let and Stay.

  • and much more...

Tenants would be able to log online and view their payment history, extra charges levied, outstanding amounts due, updating of personal details, property inspection reports with comments and several other features.

The system is truly state of the art and will give Let and Stay the opportunity to offer its clients a 21st century, online solution, as a value added benefit.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Baie kampusse, min plek - UJ bars uit sy nate Beeld 3 March 2009

Chantal Gouws

Baie studente het al 13:00 die Studentesentrum (SS) aangedurf en was dadelik spyt oor hul besluit. Middagete is geen tyd om die SS te betree nie – tensy dit vir jou pret klink om in ’n ry te staan.

Dit is maar een van die bewyse dat die Auckland Park -kampus (APK) oorbevolk is. Die SS is vol, parkering is skaars en badkamers is vol.

Maar dit is die oorvol klasse wat die meeste studente moedeloos maak.

Engelse B.Comm. (rekeningkunde)-studente op die APK voel veral die effek van die bevolkingsdruk.

Adele de Vos, ’n eerstejaar-rekeningkundestudent, het ’n sterk mening daaroor. “Ek haat dit! Ons moet altyd ’n uur voor die tyd in die klas wees of ons kry nie plek nie!”
Michelle Gouws, ’n derdejaarregsstudent, sê hul Engelse klasse is sedert 2007 oorbevolk. “Mense sit al vir drie jaar op die trappe.”

Op die Doornfontein-kampus (DFC) en Buntingstraat-kampus (APB) voel studente ook dié druk.
Richardt Lemmer, ’n derdejaar-chiropraktisynstudent op DFC, sê al loop hul klasse nie oor nie, is daar nooit parkering beskikbaar nie.

Anke van Zyl, wat besig is met haar honneursgraad in bedryfsielkunde, is ’n tutor op APB. Buiten die feit dat die klasse warm is, kry sy die studente jammer. “Dis ongemaklik. Hulle kan nie op die bord sien van die trappe af nie.”

Volgens mnr. Herman Esterhuizen, mediabeampte van die Universiteit van Johannesburg (UJ), het daar teen 18 Februarie 2009 ’n totaal van 46 273 studente by die universiteit geregistreer. Daar is vanjaar 3 659 meer eerstejaars as in 2008.

Die UJ moet voldoen aan riglyne wat gestel word deur die nasionale departement van onderwys se enrolment plan vir elke universiteit wat studentegetalle en subsidies bepaal. Maar as kapasiteit ’n probleem is, wat het van ons ander kampus, die Oos-Rand-kampus (ERC), geword?
Dié kampus is kort na die ontstaan van UJ “tydelik” gesluit om dit te omskep in ’n kampus wat sou spesialiseer in ingenieurswese en bou-wetenskappe.

’n Oud-ERC student, wat anoniem wil bly, voel sy hele lewe is ontwrig deur die sluiting.
“Daar is aan ons beloftes gemaak omtrent vervoer en die heropening van die kampus, maar dit het nooit gebeur nie.” Hy durf maar daagliks die verkeer aan Auckland Park toe. Volgens hom word daar gereeld vergaderings beplan tussen oudstudente van die ERC en universiteitsowerhede, maar dit word glo telkens gekanselleer.

Esterhuizen sê UJ gaan op versoek van die nasionale departement van onderwys ’n omvangryke voorlegging aan dié departement oor die toekoms van die ERC maak.
Die voorstel behels dat die fakulteit ingenieurswese en bou-omgewing op dié kampus programme in vervaardigings-ingenieurswese sal aanbied, in samewerking met ’n plaaslike FET-kollege.
“Om dié programme te kan aanbied, moet daar duur infrastruktuur geskep word. UJ kan nie die koste daarvan alleen dra nie,” sê Esterhuizen.

UJ het die departement van onderwys gevra om staatsfondse beskikbaar te stel vir die ontwikkeling van die ERC. Die departement sal blykbaar teen einde vandeesmaand formeel op dié versoek reageer.

Tot 30 studente bly in 1 huis in die buurte - Beeld 1 April 2009

Daniëlla du Plooy en Liezl Temmingh

Tientalle studente op klein erwe, gemors en voortdurende geraas en musiek.

Dít is van die probleme wat huis eienaars en inwoners van onder meer Auckland Park, Brixton, Melville en Westdene in Johannesburg ervaar met mense wat erwe onderverdeel en uitverhuur – dikwels onwettig – aan meestal desperate studente van die Universiteit van Johannesburg (UJ).

Volgens me. Cindy Grobbelaar, DA-raadslid vir Vrededorp (wyk 69), weet sy van ongeveer 80 huise wat onwettig in kamerwonings omgeskep is.

In een so ’n huis woon daar volgens haar byvoorbeeld sowat 30 studente. “Hulle wil naby die universiteit bly, want hulle het nie motors nie. Dan woon hulle in haglike omstandighede.

“Van die kamers, waarvoor hul tot R1 700 kan betaal, het net plek vir ’n enkelbed en geen vensters nie. Dít terwyl die eienaars derduisende rande per maand maak.”

’n Eiendomsagent, wat nie haar naam genoem wil hê nie, sê sy doen waardasies vir van dié huise.
“Ek het by een plek ’n student gevind wat in ’n spens woon. Hy betaal R500 per maand, maar kan nie eens regop staan in die vertrek nie.”

In van die huise is glo ook onwettige kragkabels. Volgens haar skep die slumlords, soos sy hulle noem, ook probleme vir ander inwoners. “Die eienaars koop klomp huise in een straat en prop dit vol mense. Dit het ’n vreeslike geraas tot gevolg en lei tot reuse-hoofbrekens vir ander inwoners. “Húl huise se waarde daal, want niemand anders wil daar kom bly of koop nie.”

Grobbelaar sê die huiseienaars kry dít reg omdat die wet nie behoorlik toegepas word nie. Volgens haar is die stad se beleid vir kommuneverblyf nog nie voltooi nie. “Van die eienaars ignoreer bloot die reëls wat daar wel is. Wanneer ons begin met regsaksie, kan dit tot drie jaar neem voordat daar ’n beslissing is. Teen daardie tyd is hulle al skatryk.”

Sy sê die aanvraag na UJ-verblyf is bloot te groot.“Daar is net te veel studente en geen behoorlike beplanning nie. ’n Gebied moet geïdentifiseer word en in hoë digtheidsverblyf omgeskep word.”

Brooklyn se kommunes nog onder beheer

Brooklyn se kommunes nog onder beheer:
Apr 02 2009 06:34:48:733PM - (SA)

Hans Wegelin van die Burgervereniging van Brooklyn en Oostelike Gebiede skryf:

Gister se berig oor onwettige studenteverblyf in woonbuurte naby die Universiteit van Johannesburg (UJ), die inkomste wat die slumlords daaruit kry en die gevolglike stedelike verval, verwys.

Inwoners van Brooklyn, langs die Universiteit van Pretoria, sien daagliks hoe ons eie slumlords mooi groot huise aan die genade van studente oorlaat. Ons het niks teen studente nie, maar ons weet almal dat jy in daardie stadium van jou lewe nie besorg is oor die dinge wat ’n residensiële gebied sy waarde laat behou nie, soos geboue en tuine wat versorg word en stilte in die nag.

Ons het dit teen eienaars wat nie op die perseel woon nie en nie ’n flenter omgee vir wat dit aan die omgewing doen nie.

Gelukkig het Tshwane ’n kommunebeleid, wetstoepassing bestaan nog en die lede van ons burgervereniging probeer hul bes.

En dan is daar ook kommunes waar die eienaar steeds op die perseel woon, waar die huis en tuin versorg is en stilte snags gehandhaaf word.

As ons dit nie bly doen nie, is ons voorland die gemors wat om die UJ heers."

Students fuel rental demand

Denise Mhlanga
07 January 2009

Residential letting agents get set for bumper season, as demand for student accommodation in some areas outweighs available supply.

Estate agents in areas located close to universities and other higher learning institutions say 2009 should be a good year, with high demand for student accommodation already being experienced.

A week into 2009, already some 400 university students in Johannesburg have secured accommodation outside of campuses and the number is set to increase come February when universities open.

That's according to Richard Rubin, chief executive officer of Aengus Property Holdings. He says there is huge demand for accommodation in Braamfontein and surrounding areas and limited supply.

Students renting out properties during the year include local and international students, the latter largely from the African continent.

"Since we opened for the year, already we have taken 400 students for the available properties," he said. He said January and February are always the busiest months in the year and students sign leases of 10 months.

Basically, the student market is the best place to be as there is guaranteed rental income for 10 months and when students like the places they rent, they usually renew for the following year, according to Rubin..

Asked about rentals, he said they range from R2 000 and R2 500 a month with two students sharing in most cases. "This is a good part of the market and investor returns are far better than the residential property market," said Rubin.

Daphne Timm, principal of Pam Golding Properties in Grahamstown, said Rhodes University and schools in the area have generally always kept the residential market going.

Despite new developments in the area, there is never enough student accommodation available.
"The student property market is definitely buoyant - just not enough stock to meet demand," said Timm. Rentals range from R1 500 and R2 200 for a room.

In some parts of Cape Town, parents sign annual leases for their children. Some are prepared to pay as much as R8 000 per month on rentals for upmarket apartments. Kevin Crassord, estate agent at Just Letting Atlantic Seaboard, said student rentals make up about 5% of the total lettings, though offerings on this side of Cape Town and they tend to be very expensive compared to student accommodation elsewhere. Average rentals are between R7 000 and R8 000 a month and the cheapest accommodation is R5 000 per month for a one-bedroom apartment.

Fred Johnson, estate agent at Tyson Properties Westville, Durban, said as universities keep expanding demand for accommodation will be continue to pick up. He said, in Westville, there are small rooms priced at R1 800 a month, while upmarket student accommodation costs from R4 500 per month. The granny flats in most areas are used as student accommodation and as long as they are priced right and suit students' lifestyles, they would be rented out.

"The student market is doing well, and prices are steady with a good supply of accommodation," said Johnson.

Bursaries - What to Know, Where to Go - Eduloan

So, you've got your matriculation certificate in hand, your hopes set high and you're standing on the threshold of ‘what next?'. Now is the time to decide what you are going to study, where you are going to study and how you are going to do it.

There's no doubt that tertiary education is a costly business - you can expect to pay between R15, 000 and R25,000 per year for most undergraduate degrees and even more for specialised or professional degrees such as law and medicine.

Your first port of call should be to suss out the available bursaries. Bursaries are available to students with a good academic record or in need of financial assistance, or both. They can be sourced through major companies, tertiary institutions, or academic foundations. Many mining and engineering companies, for example, offer ‘contract' bursaries to dedicated students, and each company has it's own terms and conditions. These bursaries are provided on the condition that you ‘pay back' the bursary by working at the company after your studies are complete. This is a good option, as you land a job and work experience immediately upon graduating.

The first thing to do is to check out the Bursary Register, which is usually available at high schools and through the financial aid offices of universities, and will provide you with a full list of bursaries available in your chosen field of study.

Even easier than that - log on to the ‘Get-a-Life' website on, which is South Africa's largest single open database of bursaries to SA students - for both local and international study. Their listings are comprehensive and you can click straight through to specific websites and application forms.

Another very helpful site for bursary listings is, which also list bursaries by field of study to minimise your search time.

And lastly, try, for good advice and some comprehensive listings.
So, you've sent out your bursary applications and - lo and behold - you have a bite! After you have whooped for joy, jumped up and down and celebrated wildly, it's time to come back down to earth and face the finance facts. You have to learn fast to manage your hard won money and make it go as far as it possibly can. With our current crazy economy the humble rand is not stretching as far as it used to and the last thing you want is your money squandered by bad management.

When you get your bursary, some do include money for textbooks, accommodation, food etc. To manage these funds effectively you can use a financial tool such as Edu-Loan's Edu-Extras card. This card is a bursary management tool specifically for students and designed like a debit card. The card has within it five ‘pockets' - for tuition, accommodation, textbooks, food and cash, and can be used at a specified range of suppliers/outlets like 7-11 and affiliated book stores which are specifically set up to accept them.

This makes managing your funds so much easier, as instead of spending your textbook money on food and pitching up for class with a full lunch-box but no books, you can use your funds for their exact purpose! For further information on the Edu-Extras card or obtaining any kind of study loan through Edu-Loan, visit or call their Client Services call-centre on: 0860-55-55-44.