Case Study: Epsley House Student Accommodation
Epsley House, a student accommodation building in Liverpool, UK, was converted from an existing warehouse in 2012 to provide affordable housing for university students. However, the project faced numerous challenges in recent years, including low occupancy rates, mismanagement, and non-compliance with safety regulations. The COVID-19 pandemic further exacerbated the uncertainties in the student accommodation market, prompting the owners to put the building up for sale.
During the sale process, the operating company was required to provide significant financial and operational information to the conveyancing solicitors. However, it became clear that due to poor record-keeping and mismanagement, this information could not be supplied. The owners expressed concerns about the building's operational management, including maintenance, security, and tenant satisfaction. There was also a fear that the project could fall into administration, resulting in the loss of investors' capital.
To address these challenges, VOYA was brought in to take over the building. VOYA's team implemented several strategies, including a comprehensive review of the building's financial and operational management to identify inefficiencies and improvement opportunities. During the review, it was discovered that the building was not fit for habitation due to safety and compliance issues. VOYA engaged it's commercial gas and electrical engineers to assess the systems in place, resulting in a safety notices and the isolation of the gas supply. The remaining tenants were promptly relocated to safe, temporary accommodation at VOYA's St Andrews Place building. Additionally, VOYA resolved the urgent issue of building insurance by partnering with Birkdale Insurance Group to secure coverage on behalf of the owners.
The swift implementation of these strategies resulted in the building becoming safe and secure. Building insurance was now in place, unsafe systems were isolated, and tenants were relocated to certified accommodation. This relieved potential liabilities from the owners, allowing them to focus on the sale of the building and realise their investment. Furthermore, VOYA offered to lease the building and refurbish it for their short-stay operational portfolio in case the sales process discontinued, providing additional reassurance to the owners.
This case study highlights the importance of proactive and effective management in ensuring the safety and compliance of accommodation buildings, as well as the need for efficient record-keeping and financial management. VOYA's expertise in risk management, safety compliance, and financial efficiency played a crucial role in securing the building and protecting investors' capital.