Bob Andrew, Managing Director of Elfin Kitchens, discusses the changing face of the private rented sector and how landlords can adapt their offering.
The housing market is changing and so are attitudes to the places we call home. Once, house ownership seemed inevitable and getting your foot on the property ladder in your early twenties seemed the clear path. Certainly, that was the case for most of us over the age of 50!
However, the reduced supply of properties in the last 25 years, combined with the increasing challenge of making home ownership more affordable, has dramatically driven the growth of the private rented sector (PRS). Some reports indicate that PRS now accounts for up to 16% of the UK housing market. Indeed, some predictors believe there will be more renters than buyers in 15-20 years.
The cause of this shift can be attributed to a change in the perception of renting. Whilst the PRS was once regarded as the last choice by many, it is now increasingly popular with families, couples, young professionals and students. Of course, many of these types of properties are vast, sprawling blocks that contain hundreds of studio apartments, luxuriously branded by the ‘landlord’ company to attract long-term renters for the lifestyle they offer. Supplemented by on-site amenities, which usually include a gym, laundry and swimming pool to super-fast broadband, concierge, and socialising spaces, it’s easy to see why this sector is booming.
However, at the other end of the spectrum, private landlords (as we know them in the traditional sense) can start to adopt this approach to their own local rental market. Perhaps not on the same scale, but certainly in a manner that makes the rooms/studio apartments far more appealing. And, one of the key considerations when creating studios in Homes of Multiple Occupancy (HMOs) is the use of kitchens facilities.
As many landlords will testify, shared kitchens can require continuous maintenance, not only because they are used (and sometimes abused) by multiple tenants, but also to ensure compliance with fire and electrical safety regulations. This can often require landlords to outlay funds for replacement cupboards and appliances, which come straight off the bottom line – making a rental property venture more labour and cost intensive than it really needs to be.
Yet it’s not just landlords who are looking to move away from communal kitchens. Tenants in the PRS also are choosing properties that offer them the freedom of their own cooking area. After all, it allows more privacy, control and a greater feeling of ‘ownership’ of the property. In these instances, installing compact kitchen units into individual rooms or studios is a great option; they help to remove the safety concerns from communal areas and reduce overall maintenance – especially when compact kitchens from Elfin are installed.
With an Elfin compact kitchen, durability is guaranteed, with the unit constructed of powder coated steel, combined with a stainless steel sink and drainer. In addition, this design and robust construction removes the need for constant maintenance, while also reducing concerns over ‘makeshift kitchens’ appearing in tenants’ rooms. Elfin compact kitchens also come with a generous 120L fridge that includes a 4* freezer compartment. Furthermore, a range of cooking appliances, including solo or combination microwave ovens, help reduce electricity bills compared to the use of a traditional oven and can be easily replaced should they be damaged.
Where hotplates are not required, the mini kitchen can be delivered as a handy tea station. If the mini kitchen includes hob, however, a 30-minute cut-out timer will make sure that food is not left cooking for longer than necessary, offering built-in safety and encouraging sensible energy use.
This approach to utilising compact kitchens was recently adopted for student accommodation in North Kensington, London. The property, now known as Station Studios, was in a poor condition before being refurbished into a selection of one-bedroom studio apartments – offering tenants modern and stylish compact living.
The studios required full cooking facilities without compromising on space, so each compact steel kitchen included an A+ Liebherr fridge, ceramic hob, 30L combination microwave, integrated dishwasher, sink and tap, extractor fan and soft close doors and drawers. To provide a clean and stylish finish, the kitchens were supplied in powder coated Matt Black.
In addition to the kitchen units, Elfin also supplied wall cupboards to provide extra dry storage in each of the studios. The durable powder coated steel cupboards were also finished in Matt Black and featured matching brushed stainless steel bar handles. For convenience and speed of installation, the wall cupboards were delivered pre-built with an internal adjustable shelf.
It’s worth noting the refurbishment of this property into student accommodation reflects the growth in the sector. Students make up just over 5% of the PRS market in England, according to the English Housing Survey. With student numbers on the increase, this will put additional pressure on demand for PRS. However, it also presents private landlords with a great opportunity to refurbish properties and tailor them to the sector accordingly.
With the historical trend data for social homes built in the UK continuing to show a decline, it’s clear that the private rented sector will remain a vital component in providing flexible access to housing at every level in the market.
This situation is likely to create more demand for properties befitting a modern tenant’s lifestyle. Consequently, landlords should consider how properties can be adapted to offer a more self-contained type of accommodation, with compact kitchens offering a great opportunity to add value.
Article Courtesy of: Elfin Kitchens