What Is Build To Rent?

Build To Rent basically means private, rentable residential property which has been built specifically for the purpose of being rented rather than sold. So, in short, homes that were built specifically for the rental market, usually owned by a company rather than an individual landlord. Sounds weird, right? It’s actually a big idea getting more and more popular in the UK. You’ll see B2R as a term thrown around a lot from journalists and estate agents and all sorts of other people, but let’s get under the skin of it to talk about why we’ve joined the team with our range of Select properties.

Build to rent sector explained

So most build to rent developments tend to be big blocks of flats rather than houses, and they’re usually owned by banks or big equity funds. The renting out business then gets handled by agencies or management firms – for example, Tipi’s Wembley development or the Essential Living schemes in Bethnal Green and Archway.

Now traditionally “private rental sector” in the UK just means “homes being rented but not by government schemes” which of course would include Build To Rent. The key difference from traditional rents (i.e. someone owning a second house or flat and renting it out, for example) is that build to rent properties are literally built to be rented out rather than built to be sold to someone (and then that someone might or might not choose to rent them out), as is normally the case when someone builds a bunch of houses or flats.

Still seems a bit odd? It is a pretty new idea in the UK to be fair, but build to rent has been around for a long while in places like the US and Germany, where the idea of renting as a lifestyle choice, rather than just because you can’t buy a house yet, is much more common and has been around for years.

So while a normal private rent might have one landlord like Jamie Biggins with maybe one spare house they rent out, or a wealthier person who has a small portfolio (that’s a few properties they rent, like maybe two flats and a house or something similar), the “landlord” in the case of built to rent is actually the company that owns the property. So a bit trickier to grab a cuppa with, maybe, but a often a lot more closely regulated and carefully managed.

What are build to rent developments like?

If you’re living as a renter you’ve probably got a different kind of lifestyle to a homeowner, and build to rent developments are designed to support this rather than make you feel like the odd duck on the street. A lot of them will have big communal spaces like games rooms, bars, or lounges. Some even have cinemas or gyms on-site, and most also include concierge services so it’s more like living in a modern hotel with a private suite, or maybe some super posh university dorm. No need to worry where your last Amazon parcel went or where to go for help if a neighbour is playing Super Smash Bros at top volume at two in the morning.

On top of being a decent place to call home, most build to rent properties are designed to be proper communities and many will run (optional) events or activities for the building which can be the perfect way to make new friends if you’re new to an area or just looking to meet some like-minded people. Unlike a lot of traditional private rents, build to rent housing is ultra-modern and up to date, too, so it tends to be eco-friendly, energy efficient and includes mod cons like underfloor heating which would cost a bomb to install even if you owned a house. Pretty sweet.

How does built to rent benefit me?

The first note of freedom is security – yes, you may not own the place, but the developers are in this for the long haul so there’s no worry they’ll suddenly decide to sell up and move to Florida as a private landlord might. Timeframes for these developments are in the decades so if you like the lifestyle and want to make it yours long term, you’re able to settle in without that nagging worry over your shoulder.

The other thing to bear in mind is that most of these places are swish. We’re talking like living in a five-star hotel in a lot of cases. If you like the idea of living somewhere with a community feel but also want a decent power shower and proper WiFi, build to rent is probably going to be your new best friend. You see a lot of use of the term “hassle-free renting,” too, which is a fancy way of saying that it is all covered – utility bills, TV setup, WiFi, all that tedious fiddling about is handled for you so your biggest worry when you move in is how to arrange your Funkos on your shiny new shelves.

The professional management angle is also a massive selling point, especially for those who may have had bad experiences with private landlords in the past. Because it is owned by a big company, the housing is kept scrupulously safe and up to code; no peeling bathroom tiles or mysterious ceiling stains here. Plus onsite concierge means no more fix-chasing. Burst pipe? Weird noises from the shower? Oven throwing soot on your eyebrows? No sweat, the pros are right downstairs to help you out no matter the time of day.

What does built to rent mean for us, and our flatsharers?

We’re super-stoked to have been working hard with some of the biggest B2R operators and developers in the UK to launch an online portal for this super-new sector. You can find ideal flatmate Select live on the site now, so if all this talk of speedy internet access and community living has made your ears prick up, head over there to check it out.

As well as providing an easy place for you to look over all the B2R properties you might be interested in, we’re also working with certain developers to help explain why the sector is good news, as well as running special “Buddy Up” events to help users who’ve matched up with us to find a fab new home. In fact, we’ve already run a few of these and the early success stories are already rolling in – watch this space!

Our team personally visit (and gawk at) many of these developments and we find it exciting to see first-hand how much the UK rental market is changing. Build to rent properties aren’t for everyone, and there’s definitely still a very valuable place for traditional private landlords, but if you’re living the fast-paced city life and more interested in focusing on your career or social life than saving to own a house, you should check B2R out soon. Once you’ve seen people living in one of these developments, enjoying co-working spaces to start their businesses or work from home, hanging out together in the bars and lounges, and chilling in the penthouse balconies or onsite gyms, we think you’ll agree with us that the future for renters looks pretty bright after all. Plus it comes with ultrafast broadband.

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