Recognising the difficulties facing renters, the coalition government launched the Build to Rent fund, offering £1bn to help support the delivery of 10,000 new homes designed specifically for rent.
The idea was to create an institutionally backed, professionally managed private rented sector, similar to the successful, decades-
old North American government multi-family sector.
Essential Living has benefited, with money from the fund helping to finance our schemes in Archway and Three Colts Lane. News that the fund is likely to deliver fewer than half the homes promised is being seen by some as a sign of its failure, but far from failing, the fund has helped kick-start a rental revolution.
The British Property Federation identified £30bn of investment ready and waiting to pour into the rental market - if the conditions are right. One key condition is political support, and the Build to Rent fund’s launch, and subsequent extension by the present Conservative government, were clear signs the government was backing the sector for the long haul.
As a result, there are 16,000 Build to Rent units in the pipeline in London alone, while thousands more are coming through in the rest of the country.
Every week, yet another institution, developer, housebuilder or housing association announces they are moving into Build to Rent. So while the fund itself may only have directly helped with the delivery of 4,000 new homes, it has indirectly helped with thousands more.
The fact the scheme is only due to deliver 4,000 new homes directly is in part thanks to the availability of private finance willing to back Build to Rent schemes.
But more damningly, it is more a reflection of failures in our planning system than the fund itself, with many schemes held back by a flawed and complicated process. By fixing planning, the government can start to fix the housing crisis.
Martin Bellinger, chief operating officer, Essential Living