I read with interest Alex Greaves’ insights in to the build-to-rent (BTR) sector.
As he states, even though BTR is gathering momentum, with cross-party political support, a look at the small print of recent initiatives reveals that homeownership remains top of the agenda.
This is despite the fact that successive governments have left a trail of unsuccessful policies in their quest to achieve universal homeownership. Today you could argue that we have a broken housing system as a result, with people seeing having your own place as a mark of success and renting the preserve of students and those who have ‘failed’ to buy.
Even though we’re looking at a generation of people for whom owning a home is a pipedream, getting a foot on the ladder remains the goal. Because of this imbalance, the rental sector in this country lags way behind its European counterparts – in what it offers and how it is perceived.
The private-rented-sector (PRS) has suffered from a bad reputation – deserved in many cases – for decades but thankfully there are an increasing number of good BTR products out there, and the UK mindset is finally starting to shift.
A good BTR product treats its tenants like customers; they’re looked after properly by decent management teams, and revenue is leveraged not just from rent but by providing brilliant onsite services like bars, cafés and communal social spaces.
For many younger people, moving into a decent BTR means that they can live, work, rest and play in their favourite city-centre location. For a monthly rent they need never concern themselves with the mundanities of homeownership.
For BTR to really sing, it needs to stand out from the PRS crowd and celebrate the quality experience, the ready-to-go living and hotel-standard services and amenities (and landlords that do the job they’re supposed to). There’s an opportunity for those behind BTR schemes to shed the stigma of renting, bring us up to speed with our continental cousins – and provide a remedy for our failing system.
The landscape is changing for ever and hopefully where BTR goes the rest of the PRS sector will follow.