News Flash!

What started with two figurative young dogs with an 'we can do this better' mentality has now grown into an international, multidisciplinary real estate facilitator with 300 employees. VJ was sitting at the table with Joost van Gestel, founder and CEO of the  Camelot. How does he look back on 25 years of Camelot and where will his company be in 10 years?

Joost van Gestel and Bob de Vilder wondered aloud in 1993 whether they wanted to grow old as employees in the business world. Van Gestel was working in the food industry at that time, De Vilder worked for a property manager. "We were of the opinion that things could still be improved within real estate management if people started looking at the subject a little bit differently," Van Gestel begins. 

Partly due to the proactive attitude, Camelot's success can be explained here. Looking back on 25 years of Camelot, the company has more than once indulged in opportunities that were encountered during the entrepreneurial journey. 

Nowadays more temporary rental than anti-squat
It all started with site checks of vacant buildings, at the request of the owners who had a brother who died to squatters and the misery that squatters often brought with them. But why would you leave those properties empty if you can let people live there for a lower rent and for fewer promises? The so-called anti-squatting method. That is what Camelot became famous for.

But in the meantime, Van Gestel and De Vilder's company is doing so much more than anti-squatting, and even in the Netherlands since last year there has been a shift in the balance between anti-squatting and temporary leasing. With the latter, the lease term is longer and the tenant has more rights than with anti-squat. 

“Temporary leasing has won over anti-squat in the Netherlands. The seven foreign branches of Camelot (Belgium, France, Germany, England, Ireland and recently Finland and Denmark) do not yet show this trend yet. Here, anti-squatting is still the largest source of income for Camelot, "says Van Gestel."

Social responsibility
While De Vilder is currently involved in foreign expansion, Van Gestel holds the position of CEO. He is proud that after a quarter of a century his company can offer 12,000 people a roof over their heads for an affordable rent and can provide work for 300 people. Van Gestel: "Of course money has to be earned, but social responsibility really makes the difference."

In addition to vacant property management, home rental is becoming an increasingly important activity in the Netherlands, with students and start-up homes as the focus. The majority of Camelot's clients are municipalities and housing associations and as a result, 90% of the portfolio falls within the social rental sector. This means that, on behalf of the client, you also have to take into account the accommodation of vulnerable groups such as the elderly, status holders and those who, due to bad luck, ended up on the street in their private lives and therefore need more help in finding a suitable home.

Connect and care 
“Camelot connects. For example, we ensure that older people do not get lonely by letting a selected number of young people live in the same building who have contractually agreed to undertake activities with the older roommates for a certain number of hours per week. This can vary from drinking a cup of coffee to helping with groceries. In the forms of housing with status holders, for example, one can think of guiding language lessons to the new Dutch, the so-called buddy system that we have created. ”Says the CEO.

Security vacancy management
For property owners who simply do not want to leave their property empty for too long and have no interest in socializing a neighborhood, it is interesting to know that Camelot is the first and only NEN 8025 standard on technical installations in the Netherlands. and meter boxes already handles. This guarantees the safety of the residents and reduces the risk of a short circuit and fire.

Desires and costs
What does it cost a client if he works with Camelot? Van Gestel is clear in this: “Depending on the social wish list that a customer has in mind for his object, you have to think of 2 to 7% of the rental income. Items on the wish list include cinemas and fitness centers for shared use or social support for certain groups of residents. And perhaps the residents still have to meet a certain profile and be actively involved in social issues? They must then be selected. The property owner can compile his entire wish list himself and thus determine almost his own price. "

Management through equipment
Not all owners have the need to have their premises transformed and to have them temporarily inhabited. Five years ago, Camelot set up a new branch of industry specifically for security and property management through 'WatchTowers' (towers with rotating infrared cameras) speakers and alarm systems. In the meantime, this has also spread to construction sites and festival sites. Typically another example of where Camelot saw space and possibilities on the market.

Van Gestel goes on: "We produced the Mobile CCTV Towers ourselves and we received more and more requests from abroad so that we even started exporting them." Suppose that the mobile control rooms are the property of events, but the 24-hour control rooms are services that are outsourced to external parties.

Own portfolio 
How does Van Gestel see the future of his company? “Camelot currently has a microliving portfolio of 2,000 homes in operation in the Netherlands with a value of € 300 million, 600 units are under construction and 900 permits have been submitted. In addition, there is a pipeline of 1,600 units. And the final touches are being put to refinancing for € 220 million, so that we can acquire new projects again.

In Q1 2020 we hope to launch a new website that responds to all questions and opportunities that are available within Camelot. And then immediately in multiple languages. We would like to extend our services to Spain and Italy in the long run. And perhaps in the future also to the US and Australia. "Van Gestel concludes. In short: enough plans for the next 25 years.

To read the original Article in Dutch