Mayor's seal of approval for 'hotel quality' Swindon HMO

By Barrie Hudson - 5 August 2022

Business
  • Mayor of Swindon Cllr Abdul Amin, second from right, with, from left, Easy Living Property property manager Arry Nessa, interior designer Claire Cripps and company founder Ash Zuberi

    Mayor of Swindon Cllr Abdul Amin, second from right, with, from left, Easy Living Property property manager Arry Nessa, interior designer Claire Cripps and company founder Ash Zuberi

A Swindon firm working to change the image of HMOs - Houses of Multiple Occupation - has unveiled its latest property.

The six-bedroom house in Albion Street is the 30th Swindon HMO completed by specialist developer Ash Zuberi.
Mr Zuberi has spent 15 years working with councils, investors and the public to shift perceptions of what HMOs are all about, and has completed 50 in the UK
“HMOs have always had a bad rep” says Mr Zuberi, “as dodgy landlords squeeze too many rooms into a tiny spaces and create sub-standard living conditions.  I’ve always done things differently, and focussed on quality above all else. What would I be happy living in and using that as a minimum benchmark."
Among the visitors who toured the thoroughly refurbished Albion Street property, which was once two shops and later a family home, were Mayor of Swindon Cllr Abdul Amin and Michael Keenan, chief of homelessness charity Threshold Housing Link.
The mayor said: "I've been shown around the house and what I feel is that it's extraordinary.
"Demand for HMOs is so high. Swindon Borough Council do not have enough one and two-bedroom houses to meet demand, so what Ash is doing from my point of view is helping Swindon."
The mayor praised the high standard of the decor, and noted that all six bedrooms came with ensuite bathrooms.
Room rental costs between £600 and £700 per month.
Mr Zuberi, who started his company 15 years ago, has spent almost two decades challenging expectations of the sector as he attempts to deliver hotel quality rooms instead of poor quality equivalents delivered by some other HMO developers. 
“It’s simple” he said. "Our ethos is about changing the face of the modern HMO. 
"It's not just a model for an investor to make money. It's not just a transitory room for someone to stay in until they can settle somewhere better. It's their home. It's a community living space. It's a place to put down roots, grow and take ownership of. This is about their journey living in Swindon.”
According to Mr Zuberi, much of the HMO sector has a bad reputation with local authorities including Swindon's. Many proposed HMOs are challenged at the planning stages as squeezing in extra rooms often raises concerns.  
Mr Zuberi has always had a transparent approach to the planning stages and opens his developments to their local neighbourhood once they are complete. 
He said: “It’s important to invite in the neighbours and show them what they are living next to. 
"Usually they go from being genuinely concerned to delighted with the finished result, and I’ve even got leads from the neighbours. We show them around and tell them who we are looking to attract to the home and you can see their worries melt away.  I love it when that happens.” 
Mr Zuberi's company, Easy Living Property, primarily attract young and middle aged professionals to their houses - people who want to work in Swindon and also want a high standard of accommodation. 
“It’s the best way to get affordable housing, but without compromising on quality,” said Mr Zuberi. "We make sure we put in super fast wifi, a luxury kitchen, TVs in every room and an en-suite to make sure our residents love their experience and stay longer.  We want to create a space that feels so comfortable that people stay for the long term and stay in Swindon.”
Ash has spent the last 15 years living and working in Swindon after developing property in London and working in the Middle East.  Ash’s first HMO was in Curtis Street, a six-bedroom property, and is still running successfully. 
 

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