For South African students, being accepted at a tertiary institution is just the first hurdle in the race to higher education. If being accepted at university is like gold dust, suitable, affordable accommodation is like striking a gold mine.
Budget cuts, reduced financial support from government and increasing student numbers mean that student accommodation provided by universities and colleges in South Africa is now incredibly scarce. Just 18% of the student accommodation needs are provided for by these institutions according to the Department of Higher Education.
However, this state of affairs is nothing new. And over the past five years, property development and management company, The Aengus Property Group, has made it its business to step into this accommodation chasm.
Aengus, which holds a portfolio of upmarket yet affordable housing in Johannesburg, Durban and Port Elizabeth, is a pioneer in converting mothballed commercial buildings into stylish, modern and affordable loft apartments. It has also worked closely with the Universities of the Witwatersrand and Johannesburg to meet the needs of students who seek accommodation close to campus.
Previous Aengus developments in Johannesburg’s trendy Braamfontein area have been hugely successful, offering around 1000 one-bedroom loft apartments with 100% occupancy rates since inception a few years ago.
In February this year, Aengus is set to unveil a further seven trendy loft apartment buildings literally on the doorstep of Wits University. Boasting 934 beds, the accommodation is also very close to other tertiary institutions.
Given the entrepreneurial spirit of the company, which has at its heart an honest appreciation for the real needs of those who desire affordable housing and accommodation, it comes as no surprise that Aengus has set the bar high for those who want the modern conveniences of residential living but have much smaller budgets.
This time around, Aengus has yet again raised the standards, offering double rooms with en-suite bathrooms that should appeal to older students, or those who prefer a bit more privacy. The units come fully furnished with beds, desks, fitted cupboards, kitchens with a fridge and Wi-Fi – pretty much everything a modern, globally connected student needs and wants.
The buildings also feature 24 hour security with biometric fingerprint access control, and on-site maintenance teams.
“The lofts are on average thirty paces from the campus, and given the security measures in place, students can walk to and from campus any time of day or night,” says Aengus Property Holdings CEO, Richard Rubin. “Our strategy meets our ethos which is very South African: safety first. Parents can rest assured in the knowledge their children will be taken care of. And it goes without saying that affordability is synonymous with Aengus’ brand.”
Rental contracts are typically for 10 months of the year and vary from R1950 to R2500 per student per month. Not only does Aengus cater for accommodation during the academic year, but its new offering also allows Aengus’s student tenants to qualify for discounts if they wish to stay in other Aengus-owned student accommodation in the coastal cities of Durban and Port Elizabeth during the holiday period in December and January. “This new offering is known as The Aengus Vacation Club, which we think will be a huge success and will add to the lifestyle offering of the brand,” says Rubin.
And amidst the luxurious touches the loft apartments have a uniquely student touch with trendy names such as LOL (Love Our Lofts, with 130 beds on 6 Ameshoff Street), KISS Lofts (Keepin It Slick And Stylin Lofts, 208 beds on 30 De Beer Street).
Oh go on, the other names are too cool not to mention: RAD Lofts (Right Across the Drag Lofts on 34 Bertha St with 200 beds); LMFAO Lofts (Lofts Made For All OK!, 36 beds on 38 De Beer St); JAW Lofts (Just Across The Way Lofts, 216 beds on 36 De Beer St); ACE Lofts (At Campus Early Lofts, 100 beds on 25 Stiemens St) and lastly WTF! Lofts (not what you think: Walk To and From Lofts, 44 beds on 21 Biccard St)