30 Nov 2021 | Build-to-rent

Posh flats for rich kids? 

“Build to rent? That’s just posh flats for rich kids. We don’t need that type of housing in this city” 

I’m not even paraphrasing. These were the words and this was the attitude of an elected member in the city chambers of one of Scotland’s leading cities as recently as the latter half of the last decade. Such was the lack of understanding of the opportunity - and a lack of appreciation of the benefits - that the BTR ‘concept’ was not even considered to be a positive contribution to the existing housing mix. 

This week saw the publication of the excellent ‘Who lives in Build to Rent’ research produced collectively by the BPF, UKAA, Dataloft and London First, assessing exactly what it says on the cover. Whilst only covering England, it accounts for 20,000 residents in 15,000 homes over nearly 90 schemes across the country. Almost 25% of the operational BTR units. Comprehensive, by any measure. 

So what do we learn? Lots.  

Posh flats for rich kids? Not really. Let’s break that down. 

The ‘rich’ bit first.  The ONS states that the average UK income in 2020 was £100 short of £30,000. This report shows that around one-third of residents earn under £32,000. In addition, on average the rent accounts for 30% of a resident’s income. This is right on the commonly accepted benchmark. A sustainable level. Affordable, even. 

‘Kids’?  A little trickier to measure. But if we generously extend the definition to being a ‘young person under the age of 25’ we can analyse a little better.  And in this respect around 30% of residents fall into this bracket.  The largest group is those aged 25-34, accounting for 40% of all residents. So 70% of residents are over 25. Or 70% of residents are under 35. Choose your narrative. 

As for the ‘posh flats’ bit?  Well, let’s discard ‘posh’. They are great homes with fantastic amenity. Most have concierge services, parcel management and a calendar of social events. Workspaces, gyms and resident lounges are commonplace too. A transparent approach with customer service at the forefront. The testimonials are well worth a read. 

Build to Rent? Great homes for average people. This is exactly the type of additional housing we need in our Scottish cities. 

You can read the full Who Lives in Build to Rent report here.

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Robin Blacklock Managing Director, Dowbrae Real Estate Consultancy