Homes that were designed and built specifically for the rental market used, generally, to be called council houses. Not any more, councils gave way to housing associations who do indeed still build properties specifically for the rental market but the new Build to Rent sector has a broader remit – homes designed for Generation Rent – and for the future.
Now, the first cross-industry organisation dedicated to driving the professionalisation of the sector has been launched. The UK Apartment Association (UKAA) will focus on driving up standards of customer service and delivery to ensure that all renters are given the best possible experience.
Its creation has been championed by Housing Minister Brandon Lewis, who is calling on the industry to work together to deliver more homes for rent and better standards for residents.
The UKAA says that its aim is to differentiate the multi-family housing market from the amateur ad hoc rental service provided by small-scale landlords that currently make up the bulk of rentals. This is bad news in the longterm for traditional private landlords but it has to good news for tenants, especially those, says UKAA, who are making a lifestyle choice by choosing high quality, branded purpose built rental homes that offer added benefits of ancillary amenities on the doorstep and the peace of mind of renting from a large, professional landlord.
Housing Minister Brandon Lewis said, “I want to see the private rented sector respond to the nation’s housing needs by providing new forms of supply and improved quality and choice. I welcome the UKAA as a body that can help build the capabilities of the build to rent sector in this country, bringing together the needs of private renters with the institutional capital that wants to invest in meeting their demands.”
With more than nine million renters in the UK and vast potential for that number to grow, there is a huge opportunity for build to rent developments as an institutional asset class. In recent months alone, the number of developers and investors committing to projects has risen encouragingly but there is still a distance to go before renting becomes the professional, service-led industry backed by large institutional investors that it is in the USA.
As well as providing a valuable platform for the industry, the UKAA will lead educational training, customer service delivery, study tours and provide a suppliers’ forum, market data and a range of resources.
A growing number of high-profile companies and professionals from across the sector have already signed up as members including Atlas, Hermes, Greystar, Manchester Life and Savills with suppliers including Roomservice by CORT and Yardi. The UKAA is working in conjunction with all of the other industry bodies and is in the process of establishing regional branches, which are so far under way in Manchester and Scotland.
Founder of the UKAA and Chairman of Chainbow, Roger Southam said, “This evolution of the rental sector is creating some interesting dynamics and raising many questions about what renting in the UK should and will look like. There is clearly a case for using the extensive experience gained by the USA and working together to create a more professional market to ultimately give renters a better service.”