What is Build to Rent?

Renting in the UK is more popular than ever. House prices are rising, and young professionals want more flexibility in their accommodation plans. This has led to a boom in the UK build to rent sector, but what exactly is build to rent? What’s the story on this growing industry and what can it offer you?

What is build to rent?

‘Build to rent’ (sometimes known as BtR) is a relatively new term that simply refers to new property developments that are being built entirely for the rental market. Since every home in the development is only available to rent, not buy, this influences the way that the homes and supporting facilities are designed and built.

If you’ve not heard the term before, don’t worry. While it’s new, it’s also definitely here to stay.

What is the build to rent model?

The build to rent model in the UK basically follows the idea of building a wholly new development of rental properties in a way that will encourage community, security and the delivery of high-quality homes for renters. Developments range in size from small compounds with a few dozen homes, to self-contained communities comprising hundreds of apartments spread over tens of large-scale buildings.

Usually, new build to rent developments will feature a wide range of facilities for their residents to enjoy. Depending on its size and price, these might include landscaped gardens, central sports facilities like pools and gyms, residents’ lounges, etc.

How big is the UK build to rent sector?

Currently, the UK build to rent sector is small, but growing. At the beginning of 2021, there were around 23,000 homes within BtR developments.

However, around £1.2 billion was invested in build to rent property development in the first quarter of 2021 alone. During this time, 25 new BtR schemes were approved across the UK. Currently, there are almost 100,000 new homes in the pipeline.

Altogether, this paints a picture of a UK build to rent sector that is in full swing. There is always high demand for new homes across the country, and it seems that demand for high-quality rental property is on the rise too.

Why is the UK build to rent sector growing?

Build to rent is becoming more popular in the UK because of higher house prices, more people choosing to rent and higher demand for newly built rental homes. Most traditionally rented homes start as being owner-occupied before being let out to multiple sets of renters. With BtR, renters can access new, modern and well-designed homes without needing a mortgage.

What are the benefits of build to rent?

The main benefit of the build to rent experience is that it appeals to the large, diverse and growing UK rental market. That means creating a guaranteed hassle-free renting experience to begin with. Expect transparent contracts, helpful concierge staff and plenty of optional extras to make moving in a breeze.

As well as making it easy to get settled in, build to rent properties make it easy to stay. High-quality design, furnishing, fixtures and fittings are now the minimum standard, thanks to rising BtR competition.

Another benefit attached to built to rent properties is that they often feature on-site property management teams. In many cases, these will be available 24/7.

For more information on what to expect from BtR properties, check out our dedicated guide to the build to rent experience.

What are the drawbacks of build to rent?

The main drawback to build to rent is, obviously, you can’t buy your home! Even if you fall in love with the property and the wider development, you’ll be renting for as long as you stay there. However, at least you will enter the process with your eyes open – it won’t be coming as an unpleasant surprise!

Another drawback is that build to rent properties tend to feature more expensive monthly rental rates. It differs regionally, but it’s not unusual for BtR prices to be around 11% higher than the local market average. However, this higher price is generally reflected in the quality of the built environments, the onsite facilities, and the quality-of-life extras on offer.

Are there affordable housing options with build to rent developments?

While there are exceptions, 20% of properties within all new build to rent developments should offer affordable private rent. This is a type of affordable housing option specifically designed for build to rent schemes.

According to the National affordable housing policy, properties offering affordable private rent should be at least 20% lower than local rental market rates.

Where can I find new build rental-only developments in the UK?

Most UK new build to rent developments are located in main cities and larger towns. This is because these areas have much larger rental markets to target. London, Manchester and Birmingham are all BtR construction hotspots, but developments are popping up all over the UK.

If you want to get a closer look at London’s thriving build to rent scene, click for an interactive map.

Is build to rent worth considering?

If you’re looking for a comfortable, accessible and convenient rental home, build to rent developments are definitely worth considering. Each month, more are being built in key rental markets, providing more choice and more competition. If you live in a big city or town, chances are you’ll have some viable BtR options coming soon, if they’re not in place already.

Quotes from Residents

The build specifications, facilities and customer service found at BTR developments have generated some of the highest ratings and glowing reviews on HomeViews. BTR developments score higher across all categories (facilities, design, location, management, value) than other developments, and score higher overall. Below are some examples of happy Build to Rent tenants.

“What first appeared as a modern, well-designed building concept has emerged into somewhere I would regard as a beautiful home. The building offers stylish and spacious apartments with standard appliances that are the perfect place to relax after a busy day. The additional facilities (such as the gym and communal areas) are nothing short of exceptional and to have these close at hand is an added benefit. What’s more, the staff supporting the operation of the building are incredibly welcoming and make living at The Forge a truly enjoyable experience.”

–  Peter Gawthorpe, Build to Rent tenant at The Forge, an Allsop development.

“The service here is really the selling point. The reception staff are super friendly, welcoming, and accommodating, and having them available 24/7 really sets this building apart from others in its caliber. The convenience of having one payment (rent + bills) and of not having to negotiate your own internet/electricity/water providers can’t be understated. The view from the rooftop is absolutely phenomenal.”

Shayan F, Build to Rent tenant at Dressage Court, an Essential Living development.

Find additional information on BTR at HomeOwners Alliance.

Interested in the build to rent experience? Click to find out more about the key benefits and factors associated with BtR. You might also find a great build to rent development in your area!

HomeViews provides verified resident reviews of the UK’s housing developments. We’re working with developers, house builders, operators, housing associations and the Government to recognise high performers and help improve standards in the built environment.

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