Build-to-rent sector must build more houses to cater for families

 

Build-to-rent is a booming market, with 105,000 units currently either complete, under construction or in the pipeline across the UK. But almost all of these are flats rather than houses, meaning limited options for families.

When build-to-rent (BTR) housing schemes go on the market, they are snapped up by investors at record speeds compared to flats, according to a report by Savills. This is because there is a huge discrepancy between the number of people – both investors and tenants – on the lookout for BTR houses and the number of developers making them.

The number of households in private rented sector (PRS) accommodation in the UK has climbed in recent years to around 4.7 million according to the most recent English Housing Survey, while the number of renting families with children has risen by almost one million and now makes up 38% of all PRS households.

Non-traditional build-to-rent

However, just 10% of BTR homes currently in the pipeline are houses, with the rest made up of flats, which indicates the sector may not be accounting for a large demographic of potential tenants. London, where space comes at a premium, dominates the BTR market, with 59,271 units compared to 45,943 across the rest of the country, according to the British Property Federation, which could explain the dearth of family homes being made available in the sector.

The needs of the tenants of such properties would differ from the more traditional BTR homes, which tend to be in very modern, centrally located blocks of flats with facilities such as gyms and concierge services. BTR family houses could be built further out into the suburbs, with more of a focus on local amenities such as shops and schools, as well as parking facilities and creches.

Savills said: “Letting rate evidence shows that houses on the edge of towns and cities can let just as quickly as inner city flats. There’s a deep market for renters who want more space in properties located close to national road networks.”

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