Student accommodation in Africa spurs JHI expansion

Student accommodation in Africa spurs JHI expansion

Artist’s impression of a kitchen in the Emona student residence on the University of Namibia’s Windhoek Campus.

JHI Residential, a subsidiary of Excellerate Property Services, is rapidly expanding into Africa and has recently been awarded a number of new contracts on the continent, including the management and letting of student accommodation units in, Emona Student Residence in Windhoek, Namibia.

The firm provides a residential management service that includes leasing and letting of student accommodation, affordable housing, social housing and other residential properties.

Artist’s impression of a typica unit in the Emona student residence on the University of Namibia’s Windhoek Campus.

Artist’s impression of a typica unit in the Emona student residence on the University of Namibia’s Windhoek Campus.

“In the first phase of this brand new cluster development we will be managing 1 152 beds, which will increase to a total of 3 000 beds in additional phases. The landlord is Hanganeni Emona – a consortium consisting of Hanganeni Investment Holdings and CSV Construction Namibia – and they plan to further expand accommodation for students in Namibia and possibly other countries in Africa,” says Thea Bezuidenhout, managing director of JHI Residential.

“The University of Namibia has about 13 000 students, so there is a strong demand for accommodation, which offers further potential to grow our business. We see this as a stepping stone to significantly increase our presence in Africa, and are in negotiations regarding further management contracts for student accommodation in Zambia and Botswana.”

Bezuidenhout says that managing student accommodation and understanding their needs is a specialised business.

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

Exterior of the Emona residence.

Exterior of the Emona residence.

JHI Residential already manages a portfolio of 10 buildings with about 450 flats including around 2 000 beds for the StudentDigz portfolio in Braamfontein, Johannesburg. Bezuidenhout says that a number of these buildings have been renovated and refurbished, with finishes and fittings of a high standard and with units including kitchens and bathrooms, as well as beds and desks with lamps.

“The feedback from the students has been very positive. This inner city growth node is being revitalised and there is constant demand for student accommodation from those attending Wits University, University of Johannesburg and other educational institutions in the area.”

Also in the Johannesburg CBD JHI Residential manages two buildings with about 160 units on behalf of Leungo Investments.

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

Bezuidenhout says a key factor in managing student accommodation is providing a diverse range of services that enable clients to select end to end solutions or specific packages. Turnkey solutions should include all aspects of residential property management, including facilities, maintenance and operational management, renovations and personnel management. JHI’s offering also includes a letting service, however in some instances where the landlord agrees to a letting commission external agents can be appointed if required.

Further social housing management contracts are in the pipeline for JHI Residential to manage social housing accommodation with a partner, Toproot, which is an accredited Social Housing Registration Authority provider.

Says Bezuidenhout: “Another initiative with Toproot consists of 30 Johannesburg inner city buildings of which the first five – with about 200 flats catering for the affordable market – will be ready in mid-2014.

“We have also expanded our operation into body corporate management, with recent contracts secured in Eerste Rivier and Belhar in Cape Town, Durban’s CBD and Musgrave areas, and a mixed-use building in Pretoria CBD.”

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