Guests: Rebecca Francis and Matt Kyle, Associate Directors at Osborne Clarke and Todd Marler, Senior Director of Operations at Greystar

Developers, operators and third-parties have had to adapt quickly to the challenges of Covid-19, but a revolution in home-working and more diligent homehunters means BTR is here to stay. A panel of experts joined Blackstock’s founder Andrew Teacher for a RESIcast on this topic in the lead up to the Property Week RESI Conference 2020

The pandemic has proven, without doubt, the business case for Build-to-Rent (BTR), our expert guests told Property Week in the latest RESIcast. 

Todd Marler, the senior director of operations at Greystar, said rapid growth in the number of people working from home has “heightened” the need for high-quality living space.

“One of the things we realised quickly was it’s not just about what we’re doing as an operator but also about how we are partnering with our residents to ensure the entire community is being safe.”

Communication is key, said Marler, in generating a genuine sense of community and helping residents “feel part of the action plan”. 

Being communicative, flexible and understanding with tenants also helps mitigate against complaints and compensation demands from tenants, according to our associate director, Rebecca Francis. 

She said: “I think the difficulty comes when you’re in a sort of quasi-environment when an operator may decide that certain amenity spaces are just too difficult to keep Covid-secure. 

“Whether that would be objectively [perceived] or not might be the question, and even though your tenancy might be reasonably robust to prevent people saying ‘I shouldn’t be paying as much rent’, your risk then is more on a consumer law level, rather than pure landlord-and-tenant. 

“But I think that is again, coming full-circle, going to be about communication, everyone feeling like they are working together in this fight to defeat [coronavirus].”

But while Covid-19 has accelerated the adoption of virtual viewings and other technologies, Matt Kyle, associate director at Osborne Clarke, cautioned that more scrutiny will be placed on new tech as it emerges. 

“The bar has raised slightly in terms of both resident expectations but also in terms of what’s perhaps reasonably practical for you to do with these technologies,” Kyle added.

“To avoid that exposure is going to be quite critical.”

Visit Property Week for the full article.

Participants

Rebecca Francis

Associate Director

Osborne Clarke

Matt Kyle

Associate Director

Osborne Clarke

Todd Marler

Senior Director of Operations

Greystar

Andrew Teacher

Founder

Blackstock Consulting