Will build-to-rent (BTR), institutional investment in the private rented sector (PRS), solve the “housing crisis” and remove the stigma of some of the worst excesses of private landlording?
Writing in leading property journal Property Week, Ami Kotecha, co-founder of Amro Real Estate Partners, and managing director of AmroLiving, thinks it will.
“At AmroLiving, we see BTR as an excellent opportunity for long-term institutional investment. As economic and societal factors shift what people want from property, we believe there is no time like the present to invest in our sector.”
With a recent House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee report stating that the UK government needs to boost the homebuilding target by 50 per cent, to create 300,000 new homes each and every year to keep up with demand, it seems the government is placing a lot of faith in BTR.
With almost half of 25 to 34-year-olds now living in the private rented sector, more families and more older people in single living accommodation, Ms Ami Kotecha says that renting should no longer be the “murky world of damp-ridden HMOs”
With house price rises still outpacing wage increases, high property prices will continue to prevent, particularly the young people, form buying. Meanwhile, high rents and high student debt compound the issue, which results in estimates like that proposed by Knight Frank: that by 2021, nearly one in four households in England will be renting.
Knight Frank’s research also points to the fact that the rise in renting is not just down to affordability: they found that 21 per cent of people rent to be in a better area; 8 per cent like the freedom from the responsibility of owning a home; 6 per cent need mobility and flexibility for work; 6 per cent are downsizing; and there are always those who rent between selling and buying.
Ms Ami Kotecha argues that living in a build-to-rent (BTR) property, with a strong amenity offer and a focus on service, is a natural next step for students who have been used to living in university student accommodation.
“The millennial generation, after all, is less focused on the long term. Traditional mortgage lenders have not yet adequately recognised the rise in freelancing and the gig economy and the ability to move anywhere around the world at short notice is worth more to many young professionals than the prospect of home ownership,” says Kotecha.
While institutional provision of rental property still represents only a small segment of the PRS, nevertheless it is growing, along with the size of the market. For this to continue it will need a big shift in the mind-set of traditional developers and builders, from one of short-term capital value added, to one of long-term management and stable rental income generation.