Good locations. Most of our homes are in quiet locations closer to Lancaster University, yet only a few yards away from the better-known student streets. Most have gardens (don’t worry, we look after them!) and all have plenty of parking. As might be expected, all are located in good, safe residential areas.
High specifications. Our properties are set up and equipped specifically for student use. This means that all of them include:
- the fastest broadband available (usually 34mb fibre-optic technology) with unlimited use
- modern and comprehensive electrical facilities. Most study-bedrooms have at least six electrical sockets in convenient places; and connection for a TV
- modern gas central heating, insulation and double glazing
- modern kitchens
- modern, clean bathrooms and toilets
- well-made and comfortable furniture, in matched sets
- high-quality carpets and décor
- comfortable beds
- good security
The best available. Our houses and flats are so good that we happily rent them to senior postgrads and members of University staff and their families. This is an expanding part of our business and we value it, but that doesn’t mean we don’t want undergraduates – they are just as welcome
Our customers include undergraduates, Masters students, PhD candidates and, occasionally, post-doctorate students and staff too.
Group sizes up to FOUR. Ideally, we look for groups intending to take a whole house together. This usually means a group of four, although we have one property with three bedrooms and one with two, for couples and smaller groups.
Individuals on their own welcome. Having said that, we are happy to hear from individuals who are looking on their own but want to join an existing household or group. We rent houses, not rooms, but it is usually possible to form a group of individuals from scratch, provided that the people concerned are available to meet each other as commitments are made.
Rents. Most of our customers pay slightly higher rents than the average in Lancaster – we charge between £90 and £105 per person per week in most cases. But they are getting a lot for their money; and since our contracts are only 44 weeks (many landlords in Lancaster now demand rather more), the annual cost to undergraduates in particular is broadly similar to what is being charged elsewhere.
We also have small number of smaller, lower-cost vacancies, at rents from £80 per person per week. The rooms attached to these tend to be small, but in great houses and with the same generous package of benefits – ideal for those who have placements out of Lancaster, have limited needs or who are on a budget.
We keep our customers! Our customers tend to stick with us – we have a very high retention rate from year to year. There are some cases of individuals who join us as first or second year undergraduates and stay on until they gain their PhDs. We only lose a customer when he or she moves away.
Good housing is important. In our view, good housing is one of the controlling factors affecting academic performance. That is not to say that a good house will get you a good degree – you still have to work of course – but bad housing can make getting one much more difficult. Being, warm, safe, comfortable and well looked-after in your home while you are at university is a great advantage and well worth the extra cost.
A service business. All residential lettings are a service business, but we believe that, when letting to students, the service element is among the most important aspects. Keeping up with the cleaning and maintenance is a vital part, as is responding, as promptly as we can, when we hear from you.
Fair dealing, good outcomes. We take deposits, subject to the usual protection arrangements. But in over 90 per cent of cases we also give them back in full when you move out. The combination of good tenants, good management and regular cleaning and maintenance means that most of our properties are returned to us much as we originally let them.
Our business is run from offices in London and Lancaster by William (Will) Brooks. Will is a Lancaster graduate (Fylde, BA 2.1 Economics and Financial Control, 1977) and is an active supporter of the University. He lives in both London and Lancaster and is available through his Lancaster number. He is actively involved in our day-to-day work, as well as in finding and developing new houses.
Will is supported by a team of specialist maintenance people, decorators, cleaners, a gardener and professional firms such as plumbers and electricians, as well as his office staff in London.
LANDLORD PROFILE – WILL BROOKS
- A Lancaster graduate
- Long experience in residential lettings
- Professional background
- Active at Lancaster University
- Active landlord
- Commitment to Lancaster
Will was born and brought up in London. He attended Lancaster University from 1974 to 1977 (Fylde College). The University was smaller, newer and very different then from how it is now. The off-campus student accommodation back then was truly dreadful – and he soon saw a business opportunity in high-quality student lettings.
Will originally became a Lancaster landlord in 1979. However, career pressures meant that he and his initial business partner had to cease their rentals business during the 1980s, even though the enterprise itself was successful. 15 years later he returned, when a friend (who is now his co-director) won a place in Lancaster herself and complained that she had nowhere to live!
After graduating in 1977 (Fylde, BA (2.1), Economics and Financial Control), Will qualified as a Chartered Accountant, with one of the leading London firms, in 1980. He then made his career in the banking and securities industries in the City. He established his own consulting firm, Eximus Capital, in 1990 and runs the properties, in part, from Eximus Capital’s London office.
Will is a past President of the London Society of Chartered Accountants. He serves as a member of Council, the supreme governing body for the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW). He is also a member of the ICAEW Board.
His business interests include being a director of a diving and watersports store in London; and he has recently been a trustee of a multi academy trust (7 schools).
For the past 15 years, Will has been an active supporter of Lancaster University. He has served as a member of Court, one of the University’s governing bodies; and keeps in touch with University affairs. Well over half of Will’s London employees so far have been Lancaster graduates.
He is a member of the Dean’s Council at Lancaster University Management School.
Will is a member of the National Landlords Association, one of the professional bodies in the lettings industry. In Lancaster, he serves on the steering group for the Residential Property Accreditation Scheme for Lancaster City Council – an important contribution to housing standards.
Will still runs his consultancy firm, but his success in Lancaster means that he now devotes rather more of his time to his lettings business than he had ever planned. He now maintains a permanent home in the area, as there is plenty to do!
Will does this work not just to earn part of his living, but also because he enjoys it. He believes strongly that, for students, good housing is a fundamental factor in promoting good academic performance.
As Will says, a good house on its own will not get you a good degree – you still have to work, unfortunately – but bad housing can make your studies much more difficult. A good place to live is well worth paying extra for.
Click here to contact Will