Making Build to Rent happen in the South West

11th December 2017

In the Housing White Paper delivered in February of this year, we saw for the first time the government’s acknowledgement of the importance of the Private Rented Sector and its vital role in delivering housing to a growing number of the UK’s population.

Build to Rent is an increasingly popular route to housing delivery. It focuses on the provision of professionally managed high-quality homes for rent, typically institutionally owned. This form of housing has been popular in mainland Europe and the States for more than a decade, and is now building momentum in the UK with already 100,000+ Build to Rent homes in various stages of development across the country.

Recently PRSim and law firm Trowers & Hamlins invited property professionals in the South West to join them to discuss the barriers and opportunities for Built to Rent and the broader Private Rented Sector in the area. For two years running, PRSim has carried out the largest PRS Resident Survey in the UK with over 40,000 recipients nationwide; from this data we were able to extract South West specific information to share with our audience.

This research shows that the South West has a large population of students and graduates who require housing as they enter the workplace; Build to Rent can accommodate their needs with purpose built apartments that deliver similar amenities to professional student accommodation. It is also adaptable to co-living which enables the rents to be kept at an affordable level whilst delivering quality, well managed accommodation.

It is vital for the South West to entice and retain big businesses in order to preserve the region’s graduate labour force, this in turn is made easier if the skilled labour is already readily available within the local area, herein lies the double edge sword.

Alongside students, the South West is an ideal location for working families many of which are unable to buy property and are looking to institutional investors to deliver family homes at reasonable rents. Unlike smaller landlord Build to Rent can provide much longer tenancies, this is essential for those with children at school or work commitments that require them to set down roots for many years without the concern of securing accommodation on an annual basis.

The popularity of the South West with those at or beyond retirement age is well known. Looking to the future, we expect that the economic drives in the wider economy will result in more people of that age group selling their original family home and turning to rent rather than buying a further property. High quality Build to Rent homes are likely to be attractive to many in that group, and are another reason why demand for such homes in the South West is expected to rise.

A growing number of institutional investors are looking at how to deliver the necessary schemes required in the region and are working alongside architects and planners to build homes that people want to live in. Build to Rent developments also bring new and exciting amenities that make people’s lives more efficient and stimulating. There is much greater recognition of the importance of placemaking, and that a home is a place you want to hurry back to at the end of the day and be surrounded by family, friends and neighbours.

Build to Rent has been shown to be capable of fast delivery, even over that of traditional Build to Sell. However, in order to bring such advantages to the South West, developers and investors will need to be confident of the support of local government in the area, and in particular from planning teams. With this we anticipate that Build to Rent will have a significant role to play in addressing the specific housing issues in the South West.