Build to Rent - simplified

Posted on 1 Jun, 2021

Build to Rent is one of the fastest growing property sectors and with expansion at a rate of knots, Viewber is bringing you an updated guide...

What is Build to Rent?

Build to Rent (BtR) is when a house builder or developer builds a collection of new homes from scratch, with the sole intention of renting the properties out from the start. The Government is behind this dedicated approach to creating brand new rental properties, with incentives coming from its Home Building Fund.

Is Build to Rent a new concept?

Built to Rent has actually been in the UK for almost a decade and many of the apartments constructed specifically to house athletes competing in the 2012 London Olympics went on to become rental properties in one of the first examples of dedicated, new build rental properties.

How many Build to Rent properties are there?

According to figures for Q4 2020, published by HomeViews, over 180,000 BtR homes are either completed, under construction or in planning up, with the sector growing by almost 18.5% in a single year - up from 152,000 at the end of Q4 2019. The forecast is positive too, with BtR completions expected to double by 2025.

Why do tenants love Build to Rent?

While today’s BtR properties are offered to tenants before elite sports stars, they still retain that ‘village’ ethos - standing apart from traditional buy-to-let properties offered by private landlords as they’re usually built around communal facilities and shared spaces. It’s not unusual for BtR developments to feature cinema rooms, rooftop terraces, shared work zones, gyms, swimming pools and even private dining facilities. 

As well as ready-made social situations, BtR is an early adopter of flexible tenancy agreements. It’s common for renters to specify a tenancy length of anywhere between 6 months and 5 years, and many developments welcome pets with open arms. What’s more, tenants get a brand new property that’s professionally managed from day one.

Who is making Build to Rent happen?

Just like house building that concentrates on properties for sale, there are a number of developers specialising in creating, marketing and managing brand new properties exclusively for rent, including Allsop, Simple Life, Folio, Grainger, Muse Developments, Quintain Living and Fizzy Living

In fact, the sector is so established now that research has started to compare and contrast the best BtR operators. HomeViews’s most recent National Build to Rent report identified the six top-rated BtR developers based on tenant feedback. Aspects taken into account included customer service, management and how likely the renter was to recommend the developer to other tenants. The top six comprised: UrbanBubble; Dandara Living; Allsop; Essential Living; Way of Life and Fizzy Living. 

Where can you find Build to Rent developments?

With BtR developments tending to focus on apartment living, it has been city centres that have seen a concentration in activity. As well as London, Leeds, Birmingham, Oxford, Cambridge, Bristol, Manchester, Liverpool, Sheffield and Sunderland have all been major beneficiaries but as our previous BtR blog highlights, there is a slight shift in attention as tenants looking for more open space and ‘work from home’ opportunities.

Smaller cities and towns, including Warrington, Stoke-On-Trent, Norwich, Peterborough and Hull, are Wise Living’s five key areas in the UK for BtR growth. Elsewhere, agent Savills is forecasting a BtR expansion into suburban areas, with the North West leading the regional charge and a switch to creating family homes for rent instead of apartments.

How can I get involved in Build to Rent?

If you own land, there’s the opportunity to build a development and if you own premises, change of use can present BtR possibilities. Both The John Lewis Partnership and Transport for London have entered the market by utilising what’s already in their portfolios.

Another route into BtR is investment. With insurance giant Legal & General forecasting that BtR would be the best performing property class over the next five years, it will come as no surprise that the company has already amassed a £2bn portfolio with over 5,000 apartments in planning, development or operation. Moorfield Group, ICG Longbow, Triple Point and Greystar are also increasing their BtR investment strategies.

Purchasing built developments and established portfolios to become a landlord is another option, with AXA and Lloyds Bank moving into the BtR sector in this way. As well as acquiring BtR rental portfolios, Goldman Sachs is also working with leading residential house builder Countryside to deliver more properties to rent. 

How can Viewber help those in Build to Rent?

We can help everyone involved in BtR thanks to our nationwide property visit and accompanied viewing service. From letting in trades and inspecting vacant properties, to accompanying prospective tenants and providing marketing support, our Viewbers come vetted and highly reviewed. Our flexible on-demand service is ideal for BtR development of all sizes and in any UK location. Contact us today to learn more.

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