The Rise of the New Rental: What is BTR?

The rise of the new rental (also known as BTR) is ushering in a whole new lifestyle for young professionals looking for more from their homes.

After all, wouldn’t life be great if your new place to rent came with more than just your own four walls? Well, welcome the rise of the ‘new rental’, which, depending on where you live or where you want to live, could include exciting extras such as:

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  • Communal gyms
  • Work spaces
  • Gardens
  • Even swimming pools!

There must be a catch, right? Well, that depends on what you’re after, how much space you want or need for yourself, and what you class as value for money, as well as how much spare time you’ll have to be able to make use of all these fun added extras.

The new developments are known as Build to Rent or BTR, a new way of renting that includes extra amenities and facilities setting the BTR sector apart from other forms of rental housing available in the UK. 

BTR offers a tenant-oriented housing system, as opposed to the more conventional rental set-up where landlords offer a property and the tenant sources and pays for extras like gym access or work space themselves.

What are the extras available for tenants?

Believe it or not, this kind of rental has been around for the best part of a decade, but its popularity is just now picking up steam, which is why – depending on where you live and your circumstances – you might only just be hearing about it.

Back in 2016 newspapers were reporting that first-time buyers were being ‘lured’ by properties with social appeal – such as gyms, roof gardens and swimming pools – mostly in the capital at that time. Flats in Croydon with these added social extras were selling for around £265k. Ah, those were the days!

Gym

In 2021, the press said that Millennials were moving away from traditional renting towards ‘all in one’ buildings with a plethora of amenities.

Developers including UNCLE, Vertus and Collective own and are currently building more developments with some of these snazzy extra facilities, such as yoga studios.

For example, at the Collective Old Oak development in West London you can enjoy:

  • Morning yoga
  • Movie nights
  • Ping-pong tournaments
  • A library
  • A roof terrace
  • Working spaces 
  • You can even host your own dinner party in one of the themed French or Japanese dining rooms

Other ‘extras’ you could commonly expect include:

  • Cleaning
  • Maintenance
  • Security
  • Concierge services
  • Parcel storage
  • Restaurants
  • Gym
  • Lounge
  • Private dining

What’s the average price of renting somewhere like this?

An ensuite room with a shared kitchenette in Collective’s Old Oak development will set you back from £1,161pcm, whilst a studio flat with private kitchenette costs from £1,348 pcm. These also include free cleaning, linen changes, all bills, WiFi, a TV, and a rain shower!

What started in London is now spreading country-wide as more and more people seek different kinds of accommodation. According to Knight Frank in figures dating from February 2022:

  • London is currently home to around half of all completed BTR units
  • The North-West accounts for nearly 16% of BTR units in the pipeline
  • Followed by the West Midlands at 11%

Whilst the North-West and West Midlands are now the two main regional hubs for BTR, all regions now boast pipeline plans which far exceed existing stock.

Is it worth it? 

Well, this comes down to personal preference about what you want from where you live and what kind of lifestyle you aspire to. If you are a person or couple who loves hosting lavish dinner parties, but can’t afford a flat with the kind of space to do so, then a space with a bookable dining room could be perfect.

Perhaps you work from home now, as lots of us do, but you’d rather not be typing away from a pull-down desk which also doubles as your kitchen table. Maybe getting out of your room and plugging in at the shared working space next door, around other actual human beings is a great shout for you.

When it comes to weighing up if BTR is right for you, we suggest writing down a list of how you spend your time and how much it’s costing you. If you’re a gym bunny, love a yoga class, or regularly swim, for example, work out your monthly spend on these activities plus your rent and see how it compares to renting an all-in BTR space.

Whether BTR is the right choice for you will ultimately come down to your personal preferences around how you like to live.

Lady on a laptop

How can landlords compete?

Ultimately, not everyone will be able to afford the all-inclusive lifestyle, so this trend is unlikely to put private sector landlords out of business. But it should encourage you to really push the lifestyle that your property offers when looking for new tenants:

  • What’s nearby? When you invest in a buy-to-let make sure you stay up to date with the latest in the area and highlight what would be on your tenant’s doorstep. For example, if you’re hoping for families, point out the schools that are within walking distance, any parks or places that are good for kids. You can also point out gyms, yoga studios, work spaces and bars
  • What’s inside? Rather than simple copy about the rooms available, think about the lifestyle the property offers. Is there a small extra bedroom that would make a great office space or home gym? Is there room to host dinner parties? Think about how the property could be used and put that into your advert!
  • How can you show it off? Consider investing in professional property photography, as this will really catch a potential tenant’s eye. Speak to the photographer about how to dress or arrange the room to sell the lifestyle, rather than just the space
  • How can you level up your property? While we don’t think that you should install a swimming pool (although if you have the space – go for it!), make sure that your property is the very best that you can afford it to be. Make a space that your tenants would be proud to show off to friends and family. If you offer the flat furnished, invest in items that will not only stand up to wear and tear, but look good too

According to HomeViews, people who live in BTR are the happiest tenants in the UK and consistently rated their properties on HomeViews higher than the average rental experience. If you’re a tenant looking to level up your lifestyle, this could be just what you’re looking for, while landlords should be inspired to take their rentals to the next level. 

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