The rise of ‘build to rent’ – the solution to Britain’s housing stock shortage?

20th June 2018

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It is no secret that Britain is facing a significant housing stock shortage, with availability hitting a near all-time low according to a recent Rics monthly residential survey.  With buyer enquiries also remaining low, the property market appears far from buoyant.

Whilst many are putting pressure on builders to complete ‘buy to own’ projects as a solution to this problem, others are looking in a different direction.

The rise in the number of ‘build to rent’ projects appearing across the UK is being hailed as a way of circumventing the housing stock crisis.  A phenomenon popular in countries such as France, Germany, and the US, Britain has been slow to jump on this particular bandwagon, until now.

The first UK build to rent scheme was East Village in Stratford, which saw the former London 2012 Olympic athletes’ village converted into 3000 homes for rent.

Since then, the build to rent market has attracted the interest of builders and investors alike, many of whom view it as a more reliable income stream long term, in comparison to the traditional housing development model.

A 2015 report by economists at PWC suggested that by 2025 more than half of those under 40 will be living in properties owned by private landlords due to the swell in house prices and lack of affordable housing. Hence the build to rent market is looking more attractive as housing shortages rise and salaries fail to meet the needs for deposits on house sales.

Key developments underway across the UK at present include Quintain’s Wembley Park, a development in north London that includes more than 5000 build to rent homes, and the Lancastrian, a development of 274 homes in Manchester’s Northern Quarter, backed by Balfour Beatty Investments and AIG Global.

Planning for a 200 home build to rent ‘village’ in Edinburgh’s Fountainbridge, is currently under review.  The development from builders Moda, and backed by investors Apache Capital, would form part of a large scale regeneration project in the city.

With many build to rent developments also providing access to facilities including; gyms, private cinemas, roof top terraces, and concierge services, developers are looking to make renting a purpose built property aspirational, rather than merely a solution to what has become a long- term problem for housing the UK.