Build to Rent (BTR) has a ‘broad and evolving customer base’ similar to the wider private rented sector and is a ‘secure and cost-effective option’ for today’s renters, according to the largest ever analysis of the sector in England.
The research also suggested that BTR provides secure leases and value for money.
The third incarnation of the ‘Who Lives in Build-to-Rent?’ report from the British Property Federation (BPF), Dataloft, BusinessLDN and the UK Apartment Association (UKAA) examined 122 schemes in England with more than 40,000 residents in over 19,000 homes. This represents over a quarter (25%) of total completed BTR homes in the UK.
The urban part of the data, which included 32,716 residents and 15,274 homes across 67 schemes, was benchmarked with tenants across the wider private rented sector.
It found that, amid a ‘highly volatile rental market’, BTR offered the option of long secure leases, with a large majority (92% of BTR schemes) providing up to three-year leases. Meanwhile, a quarter provide leases of more than three years.
Additionally, the research found, 23% of BTR tenants are currently in tenancies of three years, while more than half (53%) of leases were renewed over the last year.
The aim of BTR, which first came to prominence in the UK in 2012, in the aftermath of the London Olympics, is to provide high-quality and well-managed apartments specifically targeting renters. These very often include bills-inclusive packages, co-working or meeting space, outdoor spaces, shared gardens, rooftop gardens or bars, free WiFi, private cinemas, gyms and fitness studios.
The research found that three-quarters of BTR schemes include a co-working or meeting space, while 81% of developments have a shared garden or roof terrace. In additional, nearly two-thirds of residents have access to a gym and a third have access to fitness studios.
The BPF-led analysis also claimed that the proportion of monthly income families, couples and sharers spend on BTR homes is less than in the wider private rented sector, with singles paying only slightly more.
The sector has been criticised for being aimed to squarely at a young professional demographic, and the research appears to back up the claim that most BTR tenants come from the younger age brackets.
Some 87% of BTR tenants are aged 44 or under, but this is around the same (85%) as for private tenants.
In both parts of the rental market, there is a similar number of single occupier renters, but a higher proportion of the wider PRS is let to families than BTR. There has been efforts to address this with the creation of single-family BTR homes (low-rise individual family homes for rent), a sub-sector that has been growing in recent years and was boosted by the pandemic and the race for space.I
Ian Fletcher, director of policy at the British Property Federation, said: “This research continues to reinforce that Build to Rent homes cater to a diverse tenant base, comparable to that found in the private rented sector. BTR has rapidly established itself as an important and growing part of the housing market and continues to evolve to provides homes for a wide range of customers.”
He added: “Its diversification out of core cities and into single family housing demonstrates its increasing appeal and ability to cater to housing need.”
Brendan Geraghty, CEO of the UK Apartment Association – the sector’s trade body – said: “This is amongst the most mature data available for BTR across England and points to a stabilising and predictable customer profile who are enjoying living within BTR communities. The report illustrates that the BTR product offering appeals to all home seekers and with its focus on quality, it’s clear that BTR is an increasingly popular and attractive choice amongst renters.”
He added: “Happy customers stay longer with the data indicating that BTR is lending a helping hand to create happy homes for all.”