We should all be encouraged by last week’s figures from the British Property Federation showing that there are now almost 140,000 build to rent homes complete, under construction or in planning in the UK.
There’s much to welcome as UK regions close the gap with the capital in terms of supply, and changes to planning policy start to help more permissions come through.
But there are also challenges ahead. Currently, just 29% of BTR homes are complete and there are 110,092 units in the pipeline.
As a sector, we need to focus on delivering this pipeline during turbulent times for the construction market, but we must also prepare for the successful long-term operation of these new assets. With over 100,000 BTR homes coming to market, we need the capacity and capability to operate them effectively.
A lot has been written about the importance of BTR placemaking strategies and providing the right amenity offer. Both of these are vital considerations at the design stage.
But in parallel there are also the fundamental practical requirements of operating large residential developments: ensuring health and safety compliance, providing quality maintenance, excellent customer service, collecting rents and managing large treasury functions.
There are many capable operators in the market, but the property management sector needs to step up significantly to meet the growing demand for multiple large schemes across the country.
Collaboration will be increasingly important, not least in areas like data sharing and developing technology. Our professional body, the Institute of Residential Property Management, has developed a bespoke BTR qualification which recognises some of the specific demands of this new asset class. At FirstPort, we’re drawing on our experience managing 185,000 homes across the UK in shared buildings and complex estates of all kinds.
Property managers are making a good start. But as we rise to the challenge of this huge pipeline, we must set the bar high to ensure that BTR continues to be an attractive proposition for customer and investors alike.