Why 2017 is the year of build-to-rent

Over the last decade, the Private Rental Sector (PRS) has grown by 82% and squeezed past social rent in 2012/13 to become the second biggest tenure in the UK.

Over the same period, the way we build rental property, and the way we rent it, has changed, too.

Forecasts for squeeze on rental property

Last year, the report Housing Futures: Urban Renters, published by Strutt & Parker, Stanhope and Network Homes, was published. The report had a closer look at Britain’s emerging build-to-rent sector, as the recent developments within the sector are reminiscent of those in other rental countries, such as Hong Kong, Germany, Japan, Sweden and the US.

The research found that 48% of respondents had been renting the same property for at least two years. And 24% said they saw themselves renting even after they started a family.

Furthermore, the report also revealed that an ever expanding number of tenants defined renting as their first choice rather than just a last resort.

More recently, the Housing White Paper has shown yet another shift towards a more renting-friendly UK. Sajid Javid appeared to have distanced himself, and the new Government, at least somewhat from Cameron’s very traditional view of the UK as a nation of homeowners.

With an encouragement of institutional investment in the PRS as well as support for smaller builders to build off-site and therefore be more competitive, the sector is about to see a shift in interest. And input.

Of course, how exactly all of these plans are going to pan out and how much of it will actually become reality is still very hard to say. But with the lack in appropriate accommodation seemingly going nowhere and the Government unable to keep up with demand, one thing won’t change: Britain’s people need somewhere to live. And the country’s population is growing, by double the European average until 2050.

With that, the number of renters will continuously grow over the same period of time. And they won’t only grow in number, but also in diversity. Whilst originally renters were purely defined as those who can’t afford to buy, Generation Rent has changed the game.

Generation Rent, in its first instance, are those young, successful professionals who work hard and want to come home to the perfect place. And if this place comes with supermarkets and a gym, that’s even better. Plus, the added option that, if necessary, one can pack up their things and move (if job or love requires them to).

But Generation Rent has, over the last couple of years, grown a fair bit. New additions to this whole generation include older people, those dubbed the “Silver Renter” as well as families. And whilst they’re all looking for something different in their new rental home, a lot of them seem to be choosing rented accommodation deliberately.

What build-to-rent offers, and buy-to-let maybe can’t do, is to take the target tenant into account when constructing future living spaces.

Developers who work within the build-to-rent sector plan their projects with the intention to make their future tenants feel at home. Traditional buy-to-let, which often just happened by chance as a homeowner moved on and kept their first property and then decided to rent it out, was often unable to accommodate a tenant’s need as it was never really intended to be tenanted in the first place.

And on top of that, the accidental landlord had to either take care of every issue themselves or find a complicated way to negotiate a deal with an agent or property manager. Build-to-rent offers all-round services, meaning even investors get more bang for their buck as they can choose to hand all of the management over to an agent, often as a part of the developer’s offer.

10 Things Sajid Javid’s Housing White Paper Has Actually Told Us

Build-to-rent is basically buy-to-let’s innovation and an important step to “future prove” the UK.

What we experience now is tenants not being the only ones renting their home on a street where everyone else owns their home, but beautiful apartments in great locations with communal areas to match the specific population’s need. From BBQ areas and gyms to playgrounds, supermarkets or even the doctor’s right in the same building, people now get that chance to feel properly at home in rental accommodation, rather than it being a short-term solution to a long-term problem.

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