Student accommodation has come a long way since the days of Mike, Vyvyan, Rick and Neil in The Young Ones.

Technology is increasingly an essential part of modern living with LED lighting, superfast WiFi connection, underfloor heating systems and even an app to report any maintenance problems 24/7 becoming commonplace.

To highlight how much student and graduate accommodation has changed, BusinessCloud asked a leading Manchester-based property developer to showcase the level of tech in one of their flats.

Stephen Beech is only 38 but his company – Beech Holdings – has already built up portfolio of residential housing stock in Manchester worth £65m.

The entrepreneur is, pardon the pun, hot property and works to the simple formula of taking unloved buildings in prime locations in Manchester city centre and transforming them into environmentally sustainable and efficiently designed apartments.

The rental cost of the graduate flat featured here is £195 per week or £780 per month.

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The bedroom
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The kitchen
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The bathroom

His stock includes 17 significant city centre buildings and another 100 properties in the wider region and he’s committed to providing carbon neutral apartments to young professionals and graduates.

What’s clear to Beech is that the liberal use of technology in his properties makes them more appealing to tenants and improves his company’s bottom line.

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“Technology is important on a service level as we always have the end users in mind,” he told BusinessCloud.

“Many of our tenants come from abroad and need to be able to use a reliable online system, which enables them to make bookings and payments quickly and securely.

“When being responsible for the management of so many properties, reporting and communication of repairs is key.

“This is why our lettings division Manchester Apartments has integrated Fix Flo, an app which enables us to make live current status repairs.

“We, as well as our tenants, can therefore manage all repairs, from the minute a job gets scheduled, through to when it is done.

“This app has proven popular with all our tenants, as they know they can trust us to efficiently solve any of their issues.

“Thanks to technology, we are a streamline business that saves time and money.

“For instance, we currently use a number of cloud-based technologies to help us communicate regardless of time zones and distance and use live information access throughout the business to help us see if a member of staff is on holiday, on site or in a meeting instead of wasting time trying to find out who is where.”

Watch This Space is another exciting property company based in Manchester. Its latest project is to transform a Cumbria pub into a creative business hub.

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Stephen Beech

Beech Holdings became the first residential company in the country to use the ‘bills included’ model 15 years ago and the first ones to do it again in Manchester city centre properties six years ago. 

A lot of his tenants started off as students in Rusholme, in Greater Manchester, and moved into one of his city centre apartments when they started their career and had more disposable income.

Beech explained: “This means that we can monitor and control technology usage remotely within our apartments (for example temperature or electricity).

“It has two significant advantages; it makes our tenants’ lives easier while being eco-friendly and ensuring our properties are sustainable.”

BELOW: Flick through the October edition of BusinessCloud's interactive digital magazine

BusinessCloud digital edition