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New Build To Rent | What’s It Like To Live In One?

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This article is based on a recent conversation between Phil Spencer, founder of Move iQ and Rory Cramer, Co-founder of HomeViews – the UK’s only review site dedicated to residential property.

Renting in build to rent developments is becoming an increasingly popular option for the UK renter. These are purpose-built apartment blocks designed specifically for rent rather than sale. But what’s it like to live in a new build to rent? Let’s find out.

Finding and reviewing new build to rents

Choosing where to live is one of our biggest decisions.

So being able to find out what’s it like to live in a new build to rent or otherwise known as neighbourhood, from someone who already lives there, is helpful.

HomeViews, is a review platform often referred to as the TripAdvisor for new build developments. They proactively ask buyers and tenants to write reviews which are verified and then published on their website.

They cover most of the UK’s build to rent schemes. Allowing renters to create that conversation with the neighbour you wish you had before you’ve moved in.

How are build to rents reviewed?

HomeViews invites residents to rate the facilities, design, location, value, and management of buildings. They also ask residents to write about what they do and don’t like about their homes.

The key top three things’ residents like about renting in new build to rent developments:

  1. Security of tenure. When you’re renting in one of these buildings, you know you’re not going to be turned out. They’re professionally owned and managed.
  2. Sense of community. People living in apartment buildings don’t often know their neighbours. Through build to rent events, residents get an opportunity to socialise and feel like they’re part of a wider community within the building.
  3. Residents often praise the practicality of not having to wait for a week for a landlord to get things fixed. Having people on site to fix a dishwasher when it breaks or fix a leak is a real plus point.

Is renting in build to rent expensive?

When answering this, it’s important to consider what these developments offer and the potential savings that a renter could make. For example, many developments have a gym, co-working space, communal area etc. So, there is the potential to save yourself money if you have these memberships elsewhere.

However, if you were to compare renting in a typical new build development with a private landlord, it might be that build to rent comes out as more expensive.

For now, build to rent is a premium product. But HomeViews suggest there will be a lot more options coming as this sector of the rental market evolves. With more affordable options from institutionally owned, professionally-managed buildings.

How many new build to rent developments are there?

A conservative estimate is that the number of completed UK build to rent homes will grow by five times over the next 10 years.

However, with statistics showing that in London, in the last year alone, 40% of all new build homes sold have been bought by build to rent operators this could boost growth significantly. The housing market might look very different in 10 years’ time if, for example, 30 or 40 per cent of all new UK homes are rented.

Who lives in build to rent?

HomeViews data shows that mostly 18-35-year-olds are living in new build to rent communities.

While, to date, these developments have been focused on apartment buildings in central urban locations, this could change in the near future, as operators move into the housing developments.

HomeViews have also seen a gradual move by downsizers into these buildings as the cost-of-living rises and they want a relatively hassle-free option for later life living.

They then get to live in a community where there’s a concierge, buildings are secure and building maintenance is looked after by someone else.

What’s the difference between renting privately and new build to rents?

In short, new build to rent buildings have been purposely built to rent out.

They’ve been designed with a view that you are being looked after by the owner of the building in perpetuity. HomeViews describe it as like ‘bridging the gap between a home and hospitality’.

As a result, the level of service renters receive, is much higher than in any other type of residential building. This is because building owners are investors and have a vested interest in making sure residents rent for as long as possible.

Build to ret operators are invested in the ongoing operation and service the building offers. This is where HomeViews resident reviews play a significant role as they allow operators to know what residents like and what they don’t and make improvements accordingly. If operators don’t do a good job, then they aren’t going to have a full building!

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Last Updated: January 3rd, 2024

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