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Developers are claiming that the build to rent market could really shake up the industry. Atlas Residential, which is a US build to rent company, has bought a 145,500 square foot plot in central Southampton on which it intends to build 211 rental units. Indeed, the company intends to design, fund, build and manage the block itself.

In an article, Jonathan Ivory of Atlas Residential, said that the occupiers will be viewed as residents not tenants and warns that other letting agents may not have the experience or training to provide the level of service that is needed.

A stark warning indeed from the ‘new kid on the block’ in the UK. The company has a wealth of experience in America where it operates 18,000 rental units valued at £1.3 billion, so its views on the UK rental market need to be taken seriously.

With the increase in demand for quality rental properties, the build to rent sector is set to be an important part of the property market.

It has been estimated that the sector could be worth £50 billion within the next five years. With this in mind, the UK Apartment Association has been set up to maintain high standards in the private rented sector.

The organisation says build to rent will address the needs of today’s tenants and investors far more so than the traditional buy-to-let model.

It is clearly attracting interest with Countrywide widening its horizons. In the past few months the real estate company has bought several letting agents and is also becoming involved in build to rent projects.

Vista, the residential property fund set up by Countrywide, is set to buy the third phase of Manchester Waters in Trafford for just over £23 million. The development has planning permission for 164 build to rent apartments and 105 parking spaces.

Vista intends to deliver quality, serviced rental apartments in leading locations where there is high demand for new housing.

The emphasis is on providing a service for tenants. Some of these blocks could have a concierge, gym or other sports facilities, and someone on hand to quickly deal with any problems such as the boiler breaking down. Many of them will also be purpose-built for the rental sector rather than existing buildings which have been converted.

Now could be a good time for other landlords and agencies to take stock to see how their level of service compares with the new build to rent offerings.