Global student and build-to-rent accommodation specialist chooses CDS

News | August 2020

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An expanding build-to-rent and high-end student accommodation market in London has seen a rise in demand for the services of fire detection and life safety specialist CDS.

Global property management company Greystar, which has a multi-billion-pound portfolio of large-scale rental properties, has appointed CDS to maintain and repair fire alarm systems in more than a dozen of its developments across the capital.

The relationship between the two organisations began 18 months ago when Greystar took over a student development in Shoreditch whose fire safety system was being maintained by CDS.

The standard of work so impressed the building’s new owners that it agreed a contract to look after another 11 multi-storey student sites and a build-to-let property – with capacity expected to double over the next three years.

The contract sees CDS look after the safety of around 3,000 students and 1,500 private rental tenants in Highbury, Islington, Lewisham, Notting Hill, Southwark, White City, Shoreditch, Spitalfields, Harrow and Canary Wharf.

A 44-storey building in Croydon and a complex in Greenford Quay are on the horizon for later in the year.

The role involves maintaining and repairing all the properties’ fire alarms, emergency lighting systems, automatic opening vents, sprinklers, dry and wet risers, fire hydrants and disabled refuges.

CDS service manager Keith Helstrip explained: “As well as being very pleased with the standard of work we provided at the Shoreditch premises, Greystar trialled us on its sites at Islington, Highbury and Kings Cross. As we look after all life safety systems using a network of approved sub-contractors, we are a one stop shop. And the experience of the management team was very influential in its decision to choose us as its main supplier.

“These buildings are many storeys high and have several lifts. One has 32 floors. The fire safety requirements are highly complex and obviously of paramount importance and the systems in place have to be rigorously maintained and with a fast, effective, responsive repair system.”

As well as each building accommodating hundreds of tenants, all contain a wide variety of communal spaces such as gyms, games areas, cinemas, private dining spaces, laundries, studies and even karaoke rooms.

Laura Bryant, Greystar’s director of operational risk management and health and safety in  Europe, said: “Looking after multi-family units of this scale is an incredibly complex responsibility. When tendering for the fire safety element of our maintenance contract the track record of those bidding for it was vitally important. CDS has an impressive pedigree going back more than 30 years. It has looked after a great many very large, complex sites such as universities, hospitals, industrial premises and council buildings, all of which require a high level of expertise. So its profile was perfect for our purposes.”

Greystar, which looks after around 400,000 units of rental accommodation globally, expanded into the UK in 2013 to address its undersupply of housing and purpose-built rental accommodation. It has invested £2.8 billion buying existing luxury student housing and is in the process of developing 15,000 units of build-to-rent, private rented sector homes.