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The number of build-to-let properties is surging across the UK, with more properties being developed in the regions than in London. It is a close call, but figures from the British Property Federation show there are 62,021 build-to-rent properties in the pipeline, being built or recently completed in the UK regions outside London. In the capital itself, the number is 62,016. London has always led the way in the emerging build-to-rent sector. It has also always been home to the highest number of renters compared to homeowners. But now it seems as though the tide is turning. The sector is moving forward at a fairly fast pace. The figures from the BPF and Savills show a rise in the number of build-to-rents being built or planned, from 117,893 in the first quarter of 2018 to 124,037 to date.

BPF director of real estate policy, Ian Fletcher, said it is a significant landmark for build-to-rents across the regions to overtake London for the first time. He felt it is proof of the sector’s potential to provide the much-needed quality new-builds for rent across the UK. Build-to-rent investment is also gaining momentum, with backers eager to provide homes more quickly. The build-to-rent sector is in a strong position to speed up new housing stock on large urban sites.

Build-to-rents are helping to fill the gap in the demand for rental homes, as well as providing purpose-built quality rental properties. They are being aimed at Generation Rent and millennials, who are looking for top-quality accommodation with extras, such as free wifi, communal lounges, gyms, gardens or concierges. For investors, it is an opportunity to enjoy good rental returns in accommodation which is both purpose-built and professionally managed. In cities such as Birmingham, Bristol, Manchester and Liverpool, build-to-rent is becoming an intrinsic part of the new-build landscape. Interestingly, the build-to-rents are accommodating university graduates who choose to stay on in these cities rather than look for work in London, which they would have done traditionally. These young professionals are willing to pay a premium for rental accommodation in a convenient location and offering a better quality of life.

Build-to-rents are transforming cities. For example, plans have been launched to develop a landmark build-to-rent village in Brighton & Hove. The £220 million project is on a nine-acre site close to Hove station and within walking distance of the seafront, retail outlets and leisure facilities. When completed, it should include 860 properties, co-working space, a main boulevard, a large public square, residents’ lounges, health and wellbeing facilities, roof terraces for barbecues and allotments for residents. Tenants will be offered long-term contracts of up to five years. In Woolwich, South-East London, plans are in hand for more than 650 build-to-rent properties on land near the Woolwich Arsenal train station. The land has been bought by Legal & General, as part of the company’s plan to do something positive to tackle the housing shortage in the UK. The build-to-let sector is part of the transformation of the rental market in the UK, which is becoming more professional and more customer-focused.

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