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When the pandemic began, many wondered if build-to-rent (BTR) properties were suitable for the new normal. After all, here was a set of build to rent UK buildings designed around flexibility and social interactions. Being forced indoors for an extended period of time and told to isolate from others went against the BTR grain. Fast-forward to a post-pandemic world, however, flexible living is in demand again. 

The number of BTR developments rose 26% between 2020 and 2021. Suddenly, renters were making up for all that lost time. Now, tenants are spoilt for choice thanks to several build-to-rent operators offering a type of living that is on brand with 2022 and beyond. Here, we look at why build to rent is the ideal accommodation for a flexible lifestyle. 

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More flexibility

A typical rental contract lasts 12 months on an Assured Shorthold Tenancy, with a six-month break clause. And while many build to rent UK properties offer ASTs, they tend to do so with flexible options. Build-to-rent caters to a range of living styles, which is why it’s not uncommon to see renters given the choice of anywhere between one day and three years. 

Most tenants cite the lack of flexibility as an ongoing issue regarding rental properties, but BTR spaces are now meeting their demands. Some of the companies offer short-term stays to meet the needs of those unsure how long they plan to stay in a property. 

On the other hand, there are also operators out there that offer contracts for between 12 months and three years. All bases are covered, with renters the real winners, thanks to the ability to find a place that suits their living requirements. 

Social spaces promote the idea of more interaction

One of the biggest selling points of BTR is the social spaces. It’s not uncommon to find everything from gyms and resident lounges to outdoor areas and cinema rooms for residents. The idea is to create a sociable lifestyle and give renters more for their money. 

Instead of being confined to their apartment, residents can spend time getting to know neighbours in the lounge or enjoy a movie night in the cinema. Many renters feel their homes often lack that sense of community, especially in big cities like London. BTR properties aim to resolve this with social spaces designed to bring people together, no matter how long they hang around. 

It all harks back to flexibility and giving renters a choice. If you want to stay in your apartment and keep to yourself, then that’s absolutely fine. However, if you prefer to interact and take full advantage of the building’s features, social areas offer a place to get to know others and enjoy extra spaces beyond your apartment. 

Taking the idea of social living to another level

Going one step further, many build-to-rent properties not only offer lounges, gyms and outdoor spaces, but they also encourage a greater sense of community through other types of activities. It’s not uncommon for some operators to host monthly get-togethers where special events take place, be it quiz or game nights. 

Many BTR spaces also have communal kitchens in addition to private ones in apartments. The idea is to give people a chance to cook together and be more sociable. In the aftermath of Covid, offering these types of services takes on even more importance.

Build to rent UK: a hotel environment

The difference between hotels and rentals is blurring the lines, and this is entirely by design. One of the reasons BTR arrived in the UK from its multifamily model in the US was due to the lack of five-star experiences for renters on these shores. 

Much of that is changing, however, and it’s not uncommon to see BTR homes with a 24-hour concierge service, on-site maintenance repairs and a real sense of providing a service. Whether for a long-term stay or in flexible living apartments, these buildings are evolving to deliver hotel-like services and amenities for their tenants. 

Co-working spaces offer an alternative

Remote working was one of the biggest changes due to Covid, and it has continued to be a popular choice for professionals as the world resumes normality. Many BTR buildings realise that the day-to-day of professionals has changed drastically, with working from home (WFH) increasing by 84% in 2022. 

For many, however, the idea of working from home isn’t as appealing as it is to others. Yet, that doesn’t necessarily mean they want to commute to an office every day. Co-working spaces offer a happy medium, and it’s why many BTR homes have incorporated these into their buildings. 

Renters can roll out of bed and into a more professional setup. Co-working spaces in BTR developments also allow for more space in apartments, as residents don’t need to make room for a WFH set up in their living area or bedroom. 

Is flexible living the future?

Flexible living is on the rise, especially with younger demographics who don’t want to commit to an apartment for the long term. However, some still prefer that added security and want to lay down roots. Fortunately, the rental market now caters to many needs, thanks to dynamic build-to-rent spaces changing the landscape for modern-day renters.


Last Updated: September 28th, 2022

Phil Spencer

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