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Different Types of Rental Properties

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With high demand and reduced supply in the UK rental market, it’s worth being aware of the different types of rental properties available to rent. What makes them different isn’t just the type of accommodation that’s available. It is also how each property is managed and by whom. We share the different types of rental homes so you can decide why they may, or may not, be a good fit for you. Read on!

Different types of rental property providers

Let’s start by breaking down the different types of rental providers. Whether you’re a newbie or a seasoned renter, knowing who you’re dealing with is crucial. From private landlords to professional agencies, each has its advantages and disadvantages that can affect your renting experience. So, this guide will help you navigate these differences, so you can make informed rental decisions.

1. Private rental sector (PRS)

The ‘private rented sector’ (PRS) is used to describe accommodation provided by private landlords in the UK. Flats, apartments, family houses and rooms with communal living areas are typical types of accommodation provided by the PRS. Flats and apartments are more common in urban areas and tend to be popular choices with first-time renters. Houses are more readily available in suburban and rural areas.

Individual landlords or small-scale property management companies usually own these rental properties.

The English Housing Survey 2022-23 estimated that in England the PRS was providing 4,596,000 homes to renters, that’s almost one-fifth of the 24,408,000 households in England!

When renting from a private landlord you will either deal with the landlord directly or their appointed letting agent.

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Things to consider when renting privately

Tenancy or lease agreement

Deposit and rent protection

  • Ensure your tenancy deposit is protected in a government-approved tenancy deposit scheme.
  • Understand the terms for the return of the deposit.

Inspections and inventory

  • Conduct a thorough inspection of the property before moving in.
  • Agree on an inventory list to avoid disputes at the end of the tenancy.

Maintenance and repairs


  • Take out renters’ contents insurance to protect personal belongings.
  • Check if the landlord has a landlord insurance policy.

Utilities and services

  • Confirm if the rent includes any utilities.
  • Set up necessary accounts for electricity, gas, water, and internet.

Safety and regulations:

Use our landlords’ health and safety checklist to ensure the property is compliant with the standards required.

Communication with landlord or agent:

  • Establish a clear line of communication for any issues or questions.
  • Keep records of all correspondence and agreements.

When renting privately especially if there is no letting agent involved, be aware of potential rental scams!

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2. New builds for renters (BtR)

In recent years, the UK has seen a surge in purpose-built rental developments, often referred to as Build-to-Rent (BtR). These homes are typically apartment blocks located in towns and cities and offer new, modern and often luxurious living spaces. These properties are curated with the modern renter in mind, often built to high specifications with modern fixtures and fittings and often come with enhanced security features, this is because they want to attract and retain renters.

  • Build to Rent (BtR) homes are specifically designed for renting rather than selling. As a result, they focus on long-term occupancy and renter satisfaction.
  • Professional companies usually manage developments, offering a consistent level of service and maintenance, often with on-site management teams.
  • Many offer a range of amenities such as gyms, communal lounges, gardens, concierge services and in some cases swimming pools!
  • In many cases they have a community focus with communal spaces and social events to encourage interaction among residents.
  • If you rent in a BtR development may be able to move within a building i.e. from a 1-bed to a 2-bed.
  • Unlike many traditional rental properties, BtR developments are more likely to have pet-friendly policies.
  • BTR homes cater to a wide range of tenants, including professionals, families, and downsizers, with a variety of unit sizes and layouts to meet different needs.

While these new homes built for renters offer a tenant-focused experience, there still aren’t enough of them, and they are more concentrated in urban locations.

3. Single Family Housing (SFH)

Single-family housing is a term used to describe single-family rental – part of the build-to-rent family. The difference is that provides houses for rent as opposed to apartments, with less of the enhanced features you find in the BtR apartment blocks. In addition, you’re more likely to find SFH in suburban areas as opposed to more urban locations.

Renters of SFH properties are less likely to move as often as those who rent in BtR apartments. This is due to more family-related commitments like school and family connections.

The key difference between SFH types and BtR rental properties is you don’t get the communal amenities in SFH. Instead, you get more green space, and properties are more likely to have their own private garden etc. Despite this difference there’s still a big focus on the tenant experience.

4. House of Multiple Occupation (HMO)

An HMO can be likened to a house share and falls with the PRS. They offer privately rented accommodation to three or more people who typically don’t know each other and who share a kitchen and (in some cases) bathroom.

HMO’s must be licensed by the local authority and are required to meet certain conditions. This is how the government ensures accommodation is safe and suitable for the tenants.

Here are some key things to keep in mind:

  • If you’ve got a reduced budget HMO’s can be more affordable as you’re not having to rent an entire flat or house.
  • You’ll need to be comfortable sharing your living space with a mix of people you don’t yet know, and they may come and go more frequently.
  • Some HMO’s include council tax and utilities in the rental which can help with budgeting.
  • They often come furnished.
  • HMO’s are subject to specific regulations and safety standards, ensuring a safe and comfortable living environment.
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5. Co-living rental property

Co-living is a modern form of communal living where you have a private bedroom but share common areas like kitchens, living rooms, and sometimes bathrooms. The ethos behind co-living is to create a sense of community and social interaction among tenants. They are therefore largely operated by institutional, rather than private landlords.

Here are some key things to keep in mind about co-living spaces:

  • In some cases, they may be more affordable, as the cost is shared among the renters. However, when compared to traditional shared housing options they can also work out more expensive.
  • Rent in co-living spaces can include utilities, Wi-Fi and some cleaning.
  • Some have gyms, lounges, event spaces, and coworking areas.
  • They are mainly found in central urban areas.

Which type of rental property is best for you?

This will largely be dictated by the location you’re looking to rent in and the availability of each of the above. But whatever route you take be sure to understand the type of tenancy agreement in use as they can vary.

Check out the full How to Rent Guide to help you through each important step of renting your next home.

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Last Updated: June 14th, 2024

Phil Spencer

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