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Family matters for Morgan Douglas’ Gemma

Published: 19/03/2017


Landing in the north east of England by way of Surrey, London, Southeast Asia and Australia, Gemma Bern has certainly racked up the air miles, however one thing has always kept her grounded – her two young daughters. 

Clocking up the air miles has paid off in terms of experience – as newly opened Morgan Douglas continue to go from strength to strength.

Working in the hustle and bustle of the busy office in the heart of Durham city, Gemma makes it her responsibility to ensure the student tenants who call the cathedral city home, feel as relaxed and comfortable as they would, wherever they are travelling from.

However, outside the confines of the workplace, there is nothing more Gemma likes to do than relax with family time back home in Surrey, with daughters Tilly, 5 and Izzy, 2.  

It’s family time that has been well earned, as alongside fellow Morgan Douglas director, Douglas McCaroll, Gemma has seen the Elvet Bridge based student lettings firm grow to a point where they are in a position to be selective as to which landlords they take on – no mean feat after a little over 12 months in business in the historic cathedral city.

It’s all part of Morgan Douglas’ refreshing approach to the lettings world, which sees tenants placed in the box seats – rather than the traditional approach of putting landlords at the top of the food chain. It’s an attitude which is based on the idea that if you trust a responsible tenant to look after the landlord investment, you’ll end up with a happy tenants and a happy landlord – and it’s working with a recent 150% staff growth, and a waiting list for many properties managed by Morgan Douglas.

It’s an approach that has seen Morgan Douglas drop the residential side of the company name, and focus solely on the student lettings. Gemma says it’s down to the relationships the firm builds with the students. 

“We decided to focus on students as that’s what we have the most knowledge of. No two students are the same and we meet a variety of tenants. Some are more laid back than others, but generally they are all responsible and we get on very well with them.

“We can meet them in their first year if university whilst they are searching for their second year home and build a relationship which runs to their third and final year, and even beyond if they stay on to continue their studies.”

Personally, it’s the latest in a string of success for Gemma’s career in the property and letting industry – an industry Gemma explains, she always wanted to be a part of:

“I got into property when I was still at college working on a Saturday at sales centres and showrooms or new build developments in and around London. I took that role full time when I left college for various agencies within the industry.

“It’s a job I enjoyed and I was there until 2009 when I left to go travelling. When I came back, I was right back into property, working in a local estate agents.”

This letting season, which generally starts on the 1st of November each year in Durham, has proved to be a particularly good one, successfully letting all city centre stock prior to Christmas with only a few slightly further out properties remaining. The new office location situated on Elvet Bridge, in the heart of the city centre has been extremely beneficial with a very high footfall of both students and landlords alike. Without any targeted advertising, students are visiting the office to source their ideal home, along with landlords who require a little assistance or don't want the hassle.

They have also seen a large number of enquiries recently that have come from recommendations- both students and landlords. Twice recently it has been commented that “we have heard you only have nice houses”.

Morgan Douglas have monitored where most of their enquiries have come from since 1st October to date and although they have been using the more traditional property websites this year, they actually found that most of their leads come directly from their own office/website or from the leading online student rental website StuRents – which is well known to students as the leading national advertising platform for student accommodation.

All of Morgan Douglas’ properties feature on the ever popular StuRents website, for thousands of Durham students to see – no matter where they are coming to the North East from.

Gemma says "While it may be another piece of good news, the team aren’t going to be resting on their laurels any time soon".

The relationship is especially relevant, as the co-founder behind StuRents, Michael Rainsford, is a graduate of Durham University who in his ever-expanding successful business continues to personally makes contact regularly with various letting agents including Morgan Douglas.

Gemma continues:

“We have a very good relationship with Michael and his team and hope this continues over the years. The combination of correctly advertising our properties, knowing our stock and advertising on the correct platforms along with a lot of hard work has proven to be a successful one.”

If you are moving to Durham for university come September, or are returning from this year and are looking for accommodation, contact Morgan Douglas. Call them on 0191 389 8630 or drop them an email to hello@morgandouglas.co.uk. To see their full range of city wide properties, visit morgandouglas.co.uk.


Trust is key in letting game

Published: 14/01/2017


Trust – it may only be five little letters, but it’s one of the biggest words in the English language, one on which businesses reputations often hang, and the property rental industry is no different.

In November 2016, Students in Bristol took to protesting about the condition of their rooms, with alleged negligence for communication with the students around issues with general living conditions. Protests followed after the company refused to sign an ethical lettings charter proposed by students.

Providing a level of trust between a landlord and tenants is important to ensuring everyone is happy with the service they are receiving.

Approaching both students and landlords fairly and with respect is a key ethos to the way Morgan Douglas works as a service. The level of service offered at Morgan Douglas is important, the limitless hands-on approach means the company can be contacted at any time therefore providing unique service to all tenants.

Investing time in to both the client and the tenant allows for reduction in hassle during the switch over. Keeping everyone happy during finding a tenant to an ideal landlord is important, within testimonials, tenants have said:

“The team were quick & efficient at finding us a very comfortable property in a good central location, we had a couple of viewings with properties within their portfolio and were treated very well. The best news is that the property chosen was under our budget”.

On the other hand, landlords in which Morgan Douglas have had the pleasure of dealing with before have previously mentioned:

“Morgan Douglas listed the house on their website for rent and quickly found us some brilliant students who to date, have been model tenants”.

Another landlord also explained: “Morgan Douglas have made letting out our central Durham property a breeze. We have a great set of students in the house which treat the property with respect and are always punctual with payments”.

If you are a student moving to Durham or if you are looking for next year’s accommodation, you can get in touch with Morgan Douglas on 0191 389 8630 or email on hello@morgandouglas.co.uk. For more information on properties or becoming a landlord you can visit online at www.morgandouglas.co.uk.


ESP - Student Accommodation “will prove resilient” in Brexit

Published: 09/11/2016


“Brexit means Brexit” said Prime Minister Theresa May in July, after the UK voted out of the European Union earlier this year.

It’s thrown things such as exchange rates, prices and the stock market into chaos since the news broke. However, as reported by the Independent, the student accommodation sector will stay strong despite the uncertainty.

The report from an accommodation specialist points out that while Brexit will inevitably have an effect, those effects will be “limited”.

But why is this? Why will student accommodation be just as strong out as it was in the EU?

Well, as long as there are universities there are students. And as long as those students travel for uni, l there will be a need for accommodation. It may be surprising to learn that only six per cent of full-time students come from the EU.

This means that a majority will be travelling from around the UK – which Brexit will not effect. For those six per cent of EU students though, the Government has said they will honour funding after Brexit.

This continued support is why the experts also pointed out that the higher education sector will stand tall amid the Brexit fallout.

Durham University will be no different. Consistently voted in the top five of UK universities, Durham gets a high number of students travelling from elsewhere in the UK to attend. Naturally then, they will need somewhere to stay.

Enter Morgan Douglas Student Lettings.

With a wide range of properties in and around the city centre and university campuses, every Morgan Douglas property is ideally situated for students – no matter where you may be travelling from.

To find out more about our properties, our city or to book a viewing ahead of the 2017-18 intake, call us on 0191 389 8630 or visit morgandouglas.co.uk.


First class growth from student letting firm

Published: 03/11/2016


A County Durham student letting company is celebrating after posting record growth – less than a year after starting up.

Morgan Douglas Student Lettings which is now based on Elvet Bridge in Durham city centre, moved from Belmont Industrial estate earlier this year after just eight months of business with things continuing to improve, as since the move, they have seen 100% increases in both turnover and stock meaning they are already on for expansion – a plan backed up by the hiring of three new members of staff.

Morgan Douglas’ co-founder Douglas McCarroll says the success is down to their approach to lettings. Along with his business partner, Gemma Bern, they have an abundance of experience in the industry, and they both strongly believe that providing the utmost service to the tenants’ is the key to success.

McCarroll tells us:

“It tends to be the way, rightly or wrongly, that if you take care of the landlord everything will be fine. But we thought we would flip it and it’s definitely paid off for us. We still offer an un-compromising service to the landlords, but we like to think that by keeping the tenants happy through excellent service, they have more respect for their student home and thus the word spreads, so it’s a win-win situation.

“We’ve had some great feedback from our students who say it’s something they’ve never seen before and think it’s great to have a managing agent that puts them first.

“To outgrow our offices in the first year proves we must be doing something right, so now, with our new home, we intend to grow the business to the next level.”

McCaroll served in the military for 27 years before getting involved in the letting world in which he is in his fifth year. He says his time in the army stood him in good stead for the career switch.

“A strong ethos of doing the right thing is something bred into you whilst serving, by continuing the same level of commitment and belief, we can offer a refreshing change to the student market in Durham.”

The company is now Durham’s only dedicated student agent, with the new offices having the biggest student footfall in the city.


Morgan Douglas’ Military Man

Published: 09/10/2016


The British military is, and has been long renowned as one of the world’s finest. Having seen us through multiple wars it defends, but also educates those who serve.

Case and point - Douglas McCarroll joint owner of Durham City’s newest and fastest growing student lettings company; Morgan Douglas.

Having served 27 years in the military as a Regimental Serjeant Major in the Rifles Regiment, Douglas is more than qualified to talk about how lessons taught in the army effect everyday life once your time in the military is served. And although a change in career from the army to the student letting sector may not be the most obvious of moves, it more than pays dividends when it comes to getting the best for both tenants and landlords as Douglas explains:

“Being in the armed forces teaches discipline, a will to succeed and a sense of fairness – perfect lessons to take into property lettings when you think about it.

“The sense of fairness stands out especially to me. For too long letting properties – especially to students – has often seen substandard accommodation with problems, being let at high prices. At Morgan Douglas from day one, we wanted to put the tenants first, while not forgetting about landlords.”

The approach, founded in almost three decades’ service, has paid off in spades – perhaps in part down to the installed will to succeed. After less than a year, Morgan Douglas is taking on new staff, new properties and have a brand new office on Durham’s Elvet Bridge.

And where does the discipline come in? Well, Dougie has the answer.

“We’ve been such a success with the new approach that we are now in a position to be very selective within our process of landlords.”

“It would be easy for us to accept them all, but our selective approach enables us to handpick landlords that are not only right for ourselves at Morgan Douglas, but most importantly our tenants.

If you are a student moving to Durham, or looking for next year’s accommodation early, get in touch with Morgan Douglas on 0191 389 8630 or email on hello@morgandouglas.co.uk and for information on the company or the wide range of properties, visit www.morgandouglas.co.uk


Cross city switch for Morgan Douglas

Published: 14/09/2016


Putting the landlord first may appear to be the norm in a rental agreement, but thanks to one Durham student letting company’s move, it seems like the city’s tenants are being pushed to the forefront.

Morgan Douglas has recently moved into Elvet Bridge, Durham City from the neighbouring Belmont Industrial Estate, bringing with it the change of attitude that has made it such a success - and all in less than a year.

From their new location, which has been shown to give them the highest student footfall in the whole of the city, Morgan Douglas will use their years of experience in the industry to ensure that the often neglected tenant is taken care of.

Co-founder Douglas McCarroll says the mantra is born from his 27 years in the military:

“A strong ethos of doing the right thing is something bred into you while serving. It’s only right that the tenant is treated with the same standards of service as the landlord. After all it’s the tenant who is living in the home.

“We really go out of our way to vet both tenants and landlords to ensure that both sides are responsible. We still offer an uncompromising service to landlords, but we like to think that by keeping tenants happy through excellent service they will respect the landlord’s property that much more.”

Morgan Douglas is Durham’s only dedicated student agent, offering properties in and around the city. Currently employing just Dougie and his business partner Gemma Bern, they are also set to boost the region’s job shortage with part-time accountant and full-time student letting agent positions on the horizon.

Dougie says it’s great to give back to the region.

“It might only be a couple of jobs, but to be able to offer any employment to the city and the north east really feels rewarding. Growing the company is one thing, but helping the area get back to where we both know it can be, no matter how small the contribution, is another thing altogether.”

To find out more about Morgan Douglas student lettings and their range of properties, visit www.morgandouglas.co.uk or call them on 0191 389 8630.


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