Andrew Wells Letting and Management
“I ’m often asked by people outside the firm why Allsop has a Brighton office. ‘London, Leeds and Brighton’ doesn’t, on the face of it, strike one as a wholly logical mix of locations. The straight answer is that it was in Brighton that we founded our residential property management business 20 years ago — a fairly Bohemian location for what is best described as a prosaic line of business.”
Brighton and Leeds came about not by chance, but through the strategic vision of our former senior partner and RICS president, Alan Collett. He recognised in the 1990s that investment in residential property was likely to attract significantly more corporate and institutional interest as successive Housing Acts encouraged a growing private rented sector. Offering residential letting and management to Allsop’s existing investors was a sound, vertical integration. A client could acquire properties through the firm, have them let and managed and we would also be in the right place to assist in a disposal if that ever occurred later down the line.
So it was that in October 1999 we acquired Leaders in Brighton, a small letting and management operation upon which we built our growing management business. Three years after opening on the south coast, Allsop made a step change with the acquisition of Oriel Management in Leeds, a successful property manager that came with a contract to run a portfolio of some 2,500 former Abbey National and Royal Bank of Scotland business expansion scheme (BES) residential tenancies. It was months earlier Allsop had opened a Leeds office, under my direction, concentrating on residential investment and valuation work. Since then we have had a hugely successful run of undertaking property management, residential valuation and investment acquisition and disposal.
We have never held ourselves out to be a solution for buy-to-let landlords at the granular end of the market. Our aim has always been to play our part only in the private rented sector (PRS) and we have enjoyed our relationships with a remarkably loyal client base during these first 20 years. Dorrington Plc, Guy’s & St Thomas’ Charity Trustees and Low Moor Properties have been with us since an early stage of our journey. Many other corporate and institutional clients have joined us along the way.
Today, Allsop Letting & Management operates alongside the Allsop partnership from London, Leeds and Brighton with property managers at both ends of the country and our finance function in Leeds. Alan’s prediction of the institutionalisation of PRS has borne fruit. We were early promoters of the investment benefits of PRS and one of the first operators in the Build to Rent sector. We manage nearly 1,000 Build to Rent flats in Manchester and Newcastle with a growing pipeline of management contracts we, like market and technology, have come a long way since 1999.
Expectations of occupiers and clients are understandably high and we have adapted the tools we use to promote lettings, manage tenancy documents online, communicate with customers and report to clients. Our front-of-house teams are more likely to have had a background in hospitality than in surveying.
It would be easy to think of residential property management as the Cinderella of the property profession and many still do. But there are not many roles that on the one hand have such a close interaction with the customer and yet on the other are integral to driving asset performance for investors. We would like to think that coming to the ‘ball’ with twenty years of experience gives us quite an advantage.
The next twenty years will be even more different. It is a fair bet that politicians are likely to interfere still further in the rented sector, some of it helpful, some of it not. Allsop will continue to adapt and we will hope to also influence change. But in October 2019 we’ll look back on a very satisfying twenty years as a constant and reliable partner for our clients. And we will be having a party.