Securing lodging off-campus is a pain-in-the-neck for many foreign students. In addition to having to wade through complex lease agreements, they may have to deal with capricious landlords.
On the flipside, landlords are also wary of student tenants because, well… students are generally more unpredictable than regular, working adult tenants; and if ‘college’ films like American Pie are any reflection of reality, their homes may also be in danger of turning into hedonistic dens.
Singapore-based startup Oxfordcaps has built a private student housing solution to tackle this problem And for that, it has received seed funding from 500 Startups, ReadyVentures and a group of undisclosed angel investors, today. The funding amount was not disclosed.
Launched in July, Oxfordcaps has leased a few apartments close — no further than a 15 minutes walking distance — to various tertiary institutions, including Nanyang Technological University (NTU), Singapore Management University (SMU), INSEAD and Singapore Institute of Management (SIM).
Unlike most other private student hostels, these apartments give students the option to live off-campus and yet still be able to commute quickly to their schools. To find the right housing, students can search for apartments according to their university on Oxfordcaps’ website.
Many students who come to Singapore may be budget-conscious, and housing prices in Singapore are relatively high compared to its regional neighbours.
Oxfordcaps leases “no-frills” apartments to keep the rental — and maintenance — costs down. The company’s founder and CEO, Annu Talreja, told e27 that many foreign students in Singapore are used to sharing rooms, so most of the rooms in Oxfordcaps’ apartments have two single beds and study desks.
That’s not to say that Oxfordcaps does not offer private rooms for students. The company designs and prices their apartments differently, based on the demographics of students for each tertiary institution.
For example, students from INSEAD are mostly working adults — some are even married — so they would be comfortable paying more for privacy. On the other hand, students from NTU and SIM are a lot of younger and do not have much spending power, so shared rooms are more a practical option.
All apartments come with WiFi routers installed, and some of them even have ‘reading corners’. When it comes to maintenance of the apartments, Oxfordcaps offers add-on services such as housekeeping, meals and laundry.
All tenants have to sign a minimum lease of six months; breaking the lease will result in the forfeit of their security deposit.
In a nutshell, the proposition that Oxfordcaps wants to offer students is this: here’s a conducive home & study environment where you don’t have to worry about dealing with brokers or breaking the bank. Oh, and it is also easy to maintain and upkeep.
For the landlords, Oxfordcaps provides a peace of mind to them by performing the role of a middleman and property manager.
By creating shared rooms in many of the apartments, Oxfordcaps can fit up to six students per unit, allowing the company to maximise their rental yield.
Oxfordcaps is also in talks with real estate companies to develop apartments specifically for student housing. These apartments will house up to 250 students, said Tarleja.
Tarleja added that the rental market in Singapore is currently “stressed”, and thus, by leveraging on Oxfordcaps’ solution, landlords and real estate companies have a better shot of bringing in a steady rental stream.
With the new funding, Oxfordcaps will strengthen its branding and market position in Singapore.
Once it has established itself firmly in its home market, Oxfordcaps will look at expanding into regional markets, such as India and Indonesia.
Beyond leasing flats, Oxfordcaps also wants to grow a vibrant community of foreign students so they can help one another.
So far, it mostly hosts casual events such as social gatherings, but in the future, it wants to run more targetted, professional events such as career talks.
Image Credit: Oxfordcaps