Bill Free Homes Ltd, based in Durham City, has won Gold in the Student Lettings category at The Sunday Times Lettings Agency of the Year Awards 2015.
The ceremony saw more than 500 leading letting agents from across the UK travel to the Lancaster London Hotel to celebrate the achievements of the cream of the crop in the lettings world.
In addition to the Gold Student Lettings award, Bill Free Homes scooped a Silver award in the Property Management category, and the team accepted their awards from a special celebrity guest – international athlete Paula Radcliffe.
This is the third year running that the company, which manages more than 100 student houses in Durham City, has brought major national awards back to the North East from the London event.
The agency was praised by the judges for its “unrivalled number of services to tenants, a number of which were implemented after a commissioned survey of students’ views and are completely unique to Bill Free Homes.”
They also drew attention to the company’s “excellent” use of technology. One app provides mobile alerts when students walk past an available property, and the directors have also introduced a Stay Safe app for staff, in cooperation with the Suzy Lamplugh Trust.
Due to the growing international student community, Bill Free Homes’ lettings documents are now available in a range of languages and several members of the team are multi-lingual.
The judges were also impressed that Bill Free Homes owns a fleet of bikes which are available to students for free, in return for an optional donation to charity, and that students are able to earn money by branding their cars with QR codes for a 12 week period.
Director of Bill Free Homes Sean Lawless said: “We’re delighted to win a Gold award for the second year running in such a highly competitive national category. The judges noted that we fully embrace the student market and picked up on the fact that we have a strong focus on service delivery, combining the personal skills of our excellent team with in-house and third party technologies.
“On the property management side of the business, we’ve developed specialist software that allows us to track a property’s condition throughout the tenancy in an objective manner, and we also pride ourselves on offering landlords valuable advice on home improvements, to achieve higher rental yields. We’re thrilled that our personal approach has been applauded on a national scale.”
These awards mark the latest in a string of recent accolades for the company, which was also crowned Durham Student Letting Agent of the Year at the inaugural North East Student Housing Awards (NESHA) at Newcastle Civic Centre earlier this month.
At the ceremony, managing director Peter Smith was presented with the Lifetime Achievement Award for his services to the student market in Durham.
Peter Smith said: “It’s been a brilliant summer for us so far, with four award wins in a matter of weeks. I was honoured to receive the NESHA Lifetime Achievement title, which I dedicated to our hugely talented team. We are all immensely proud to work in the heart of such a beautiful city and to be recognised as a reliable port of call for students and landlords in all property matters.”