Traditionally, renting has been seen as a means to an end, a short-term option mainly for youngsters before they get onto the property ladder. But things have changed, and there’s a new tenant in town who is renting out of choice rather than necessity.
Around a third of people in England rent their homes at present, with the average age of first-time buyers now hitting 33. While part of the reason for this is financial, with house prices rising faster than wages over recent years meaning that most millennials can’t afford to buy, there is another side to it which is important to recognise – those who choose to be part of Generation Rent.
This new trend has brought with it a huge influx of changes in the industry, from new technologies to shifting attitudes towards tenant types, as well as the rise of the build-to-rent sector specifically catering to the needs of today’s renters.
Smart buildings are being constructed which are more energy-efficient than traditional homes, tracking resource and energy usage through high-tech monitoring systems. Atlas Residential, an operator of build-to-rent communities, has also introduced a new technology system that provides integrated portals, apps and surveys to communicate with residents, as well as programs that simplify tenant background checks while allowing residents to build up their credit through renting.
A number of new websites have also begun to crop up that allow tenants and landlords to review each other and their properties, increasing transparency in a similar style to TripAdvisor, and allowing tenants to make much more informed decisions about where they choose to live.
Another huge change in today’s rental market is the rise of three-year tenancies, allowing renters to feel more at home and secure in their rental property. Theresa May in her housing speech promised “more homes for rent on family-friendly, three-year tenancies,”, and this not only adds to a tenants level of housing security, but also means renters can build up real communities by staying in a place for longer and putting down roots.
The added benefit for the landlord is reducing void periods, and eliminating the need to search for new tenants every six months.
Renting is no longer the reserve of millennials waiting to buy a house, and this changing trend means that build-to-rent developments have had to adapt to cater for a whole new type of tenant. While young people still make up an important proportion of renters, families, older people, and mature groups of friends have been added to the mix, along with their differing needs.
Many developments are being created that include creches, playgrounds and other childcare facilities, as well as gyms, concierge services, workspaces and shared gardens. These shared services also create a new sense of community among renters, enabling them to feel a sense of belonging they perhaps wouldn’t get with the rental properties of the past.
Stephanie Smith of Atlas Residential commented: “2018’s build-to-rent trends mark a new era for the sector. With an increasingly diversified base of customers at its heart, rental accommodation providers in the UK will flex and mould to better meet the needs of a shifting society.”
She added: “This shift away from ‘what’s always been’ is going to pave the way for a different ethos for the rental sector moving forward.”