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What are the nation’s behaviours and attitudes around renting?

One of the UK’s leading Build to Rent providers for family housing has launched its private rental sector (PRS) market research report, which it says reveals the nation’s behaviours and attitudes when it comes to renting.

Sigma Capital, which has over 2,000 BTR properties aimed largely at the family market across the UK through its Simple Life brand, has released The Rental Experience: Setting the Standard, which is based on in-depth qualitative and quantitative data collection, concluding with a survey of more than 2,000 renters.

The research reveals everything from who the modern-day renter is, to what barriers they feel they face as renters, their reasons for renting and their experiences whilst renting.

Rob Sumner, residential investment director at Sigma Capital, said: “As leaders in the market (overall, the Sigma platform has delivered and continues to manage nearly 4,000 homes across the UK, with an additional pipeline of over 3,000 across the country), we wanted to take a proactive approach to find out more about renters in the UK and what the rental landscape looks like.”

He added: “As much as we can make assumptions about what we think people might want, we felt it was critical to collect hard data from real renters, which would allow us to better understand their wants and needs, which in turn would help inform our strategy and delivery. At our current scale and with increasing pace of delivery, it made sense to embark on this project which has revealed some really interesting findings which will shape our thought processes into the future.”

He said that renting can sometimes be perceived negatively, with the media focusing on rogue landlords and the assumption that people view renting as a short-term option prior to the longer-term aspiration of purchasing a house. But the findings showed something different.

“Our survey found that, in fact, many people are happy or very happy with the property that they rent, with a high proportion of people stating that they are willing to sign into long-term rental deals.”

“The very fact that on the whole renters are happy yet this negative representation of renting is highlighted, means that unfortunately there are some deeply held and, in our opinion, unjustly unfavourable stigmas attached to renting, born out of history rather than the present day. As an industry, if we can start to change that perception, it could unlock a huge amount of potential.”

The survey revealed that, while some see renting as ‘dead’ money, many of the benefits of renting were revealed to be important to tenants, such as the extra freedom and flexibility it provides, a greater choice of living environments on offer, and the chance for them to live in a better area or larger property than would be achievable if they were looking to buy.

The research also found that renters are older and more affluent than perhaps would be expected, with those aged 35-44 accounting for the largest group of tenants. However, whilst members of this age group were part of the largest cohort in the sector, it’s interesting to note that they perceived themselves to be a minority, expecting that most in the sector would be much younger as most of the marketing push is towards that end of the age spectrum.

Another surprising statistic, perhaps, was that the average time that the private renter has been in the sector is seven years, suggesting that it’s far from being a transient market, with renting a long-term solution for many.

Lauren Elliott, associate director at market research firm Trinity McQueen, which led the research on behalf of Sigma Capital, said: “Something that struck us quite early on in the research was the vast difference in experiences people have whilst renting. It became very noticeable that there is a lack of standardisation within the rental marketplace, so renters can feel on the back foot – and not in control.”

“From tenancy to tenancy, they never know what to expect with regards to what they can and can’t do, what is tenant or landlord responsibility, how fees and rental increases work and the degree of customer service they can expect. Build to Rent providers can really now start to set the standard which will inevitably start to reduce the grey areas of renting, making it even more attractive.”

Sumner added: “The market is maturing and it’s possible that people will start to see renting as a more aspirational choice. With renters increasingly seeking a relationship with a brand, landlords will soon be competing for tenants, which is why we need to ensure that the service we provide within our Simple Life brand is first class.”

To download The Rental Experience: Setting the Standard report in full, click here.

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