Build-to-rent has been one of those rare issues in real estate where there is a cross-party consensus of support. On the one hand BTR it is another stream of housing supply, on the other it provides a professionalised rental sector –a headache for councils up and down the country.
While it was the Conservatives that put it firmly on the national policy agenda, with the reform of SDLT bulk purchase rules, and then the Montague Review, the shadow government has been equally proactive in seeking the solutions the sector can bring to the housing crisis.
Confidence has turned to interest, and then action, and there are plenty of reasons to remain optimistic for build-to-rent in coming parliaments – and regardless of Brexit and the widening gulf between the main political parties.
Firstly, politicians are far more persuaded by reality than concept.
When the BPF first tried to promote BTR through a publication with London Councils in 2011 it struggled to find six case studies. By 2016 it could make the quota ten times over, and by 2019 it is difficult to count.
Real examples are worth a thousand words and being able to point to new, well-managed buildings delivering quality homes for renters of all ages is a tremendous driver.
The variety of the sector has also helped in the dialogue with government, in terms of location, the providers and the type of homes being delivered.
Though mainly flats, there have been schemes coming forward that are for families with children, youngsters, and renters across a variety of price points. More than one company is looking at the grey BTR for over 65’s.
And while interest in London and the South East has been strong, other core cities in the East, West and North have proved to be equally popular.
The players investing in, building and managing the stock are delivering exactly what a Government would want – new players beyond traditional house builders willing to increase the output of homes.
A further and extremely compelling political argument is that both political parties, despite the gulf between them, have pledged to deliver 200,000 or more homes a year, without any clear supply side plan of how to do this.
To deliver the numbers – without building on the green belt – means greater density and faster build out across more tenures with more players.
Build-to-rent, with its focus on quality management and long-term place making, is well placed to provide what residents and politicians want. And as last year’s Letwin Review pointed out, the sector is extremely well placed to stop the drip-feeding of build to sell.
If the nation is to be housed there will be plenty of opportunities for innovative players and investors.