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Build to Rent | Complete Guide

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Build to rent (BTR) is still relatively unknown to renters. That’s because it’s a relatively new concept here in the UK, and most developments don’t advertise themselves specifically as build-to-rent properties. Yet, BTR is growing exponentially, with more than 150,000 developments already completed and thousands more in the pipeline. But who lives in build to rent homes? Here, we explore the BTR space to learn more about the sector and the renters it attracts.

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What is build to rent?

Build-to-rent homes are designed solely for renters. The properties aren’t available for sale nor part of the buy-to-let market. Instead, tenants rent from a professional landlord (usually a company). It’s an adaptation of the US model, known as multi-family, which has been successful on the other side of the pond. 

Most BTR developments also have on-site amenities, such as gyms, resident lounges, co-working spaces and, in some cases, cinema rooms and outdoor terraces and gardens. The aim is to encourage connections in the buildings between renters, with tenants able to mix in the social spaces. Many BTR developments also host regular social events, getting everyone in the building together for games, parties and other similar activities. 

How does build to rent work?

The core concept of build to rent doesn’t significantly differ from traditional renting. There is a contract with the landlord, and renters pay the agreed rental price. The only real difference is that the lease agreement tends to be with a company rather than an individual. 

Beyond that, most BTR developments have on-site maintenance, meaning tenants can usually expect faster repairs. Indeed, the entire building is often connected via an app, giving renters easy access to the concierge and repairs, as well as the ability to book communal rooms for private events. 

There is also a subsection of build to rent, known as co-living. In traditional BTR spaces, renters live in private apartments with living rooms, kitchens and bathrooms. With co-living, however, tenants often have their own room (sometimes with en-suites) but share other areas, including living rooms, kitchens and, in some cases, bathrooms. 

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Where are build-to-rent homes located?

Build-to-rent properties pop up all over the UK, with cities having the greatest concentration. London is the primary hub, but cities like Manchester, Birmingham, Leeds and Liverpool aren’t far behind. 

Large towns like Stevenage, Crawley, Salford and Milton Keynes also have build to rent developments. Currently, the largest development in the UK is located in Wembley. Run by Quintain, it has more than 7,000 apartments spread across several buildings.  

What can renters expect from build to rent?

Build to rent sells itself as being a professional way to rent. That’s not to say you won’t get high-quality setups renting from a private landlord, but BTR promises to make certain aspects of renting painless. This includes speeding up average repair and maintenance times, thanks to having a team on site. 

Again, there’s also the social aspect. Most BTR homes have amenities that range from gyms and lounges to swimming pools and restaurants. Of course, these extra spaces come at a premium. For that reason, build to rent homes are usually more expensive than other similar-sized homes in the same postcode. 

Who lives in build to rent UK?

Most build to rent homes are filled with professional renters. Their average salary is between £25,000 and £50,000, and they come from both the private and public working sectors. Around 62% of tenants are aged between 25 and 34 years old.

Sharers tend to make up a significant portion of build to rent homes compared to the traditional rental market. However, it’s not uncommon to find singles, couples and families all occupying BTR properties. 

What’s next?

Next comes expansion. Build to rent developments continue to receive investment, with large organisations like banks and retailers that are getting in on the act. By 2025, the sector expects to double the number of units available to renters, increasing the number of homes available in the UK. 

Build to rent has an opportunity to tackle the housing crisis as long as it can provide affordable homes. From a numbers perspective, more build-to-rent homes help with the lack of housing stock in the UK and give people more living options. 

Building to rent

It’s an exciting time to be in the build to rent market, especially as the sector continues to grow at pace. Ultimately, renters stand to benefit, with BTR properties and traditional buy-to-let offering ways for them to find a place they can call home.


Last Updated: November 1st, 2022

Phil Spencer

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