July 22, 2020

How the HMO Market Has Transitioned to Co-Living

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Modern life has undergone a drastic overhaul in recent times. Busy schedules and high property prices have made it difficult for people to socialise and climb the property ladder, ultimately affecting how and where we live. More people than ever are renting a property instead of buying one, and it’s predicted 24% of UK households will rent by the end of 2021. Taking a closer look at rental properties, the HMO market in particular has shifted towards co-living.

On the surface, HMOs and BTR spaces appear to be similar as they both provide homes for several different residents that opt to rent. BTR properties, however, cater to a tenant’s needs in a slightly different way to HMOs, with more emphasis going towards encouraging social interaction through a wider variety of amenities.

The HMO market provided BTR with the building blocks needed to make co-living arrangements a success. We take a look at how the changing needs of tenants have altered the rental sector.

Living Socially

Living in relative isolation became the norm after life started to get busier for us. This has affected everybody from students to families. Even retirees found themselves becoming increasingly lonely, as many aren’t able-bodied enough to get out and about on a regular basis. In turn, this has affected our mental health significantly, but co-living arrangements have given the nation’s mental wellbeing a boost.

A traditional HMO property provides the potential for residents to interact, but expert Interior Design is needed to ensure space is being used to its full potential. Small and medium sized kitchens can make it hard for more than one or two people to be in there at the same time, which can stop tenants wanting to cook and eat together.

Likewise, a communal living room may not be fit for purpose if residents want to use that space for different things at the same time, such as watching TV or having a chat after a long day at work.

This is where co-living strongly differentiates itself from the HMO market, as it directs its focus on forming closer connections.

In a co-living environment, it’s much easier to find other residents who are similar-minded to you, and there’s more space available for groups of people to enjoy their time as they see fit. With their community-first approach, BTR properties encourage communities to grow, boosting the wellbeing of sociable tenants.

This requires a lot of thought and planning to get right, though, as spaces need to be designed to actively encourage people to interact. Otherwise, they will simply be large areas that aren’t being used to their full potential.

An Easy Way of Life

Millions of Brits feel overwhelmed by pressures in life. Six out of 10 people surveyed admitted they struggle to keep life organised, with many citing household chores and mundane life admin tasks as the biggest time-consumers. In all, Brits only find an average of 73 minutes to themselves per day.

Living in an HMO can relieve some of these difficulties. Household maintenance can be divided between residents to save time, but there is a possibility housemates won’t stick to an agreed timetable for domestic chores.

In a co-living environment, residents don’t have this issue. BTR properties tend to be well-staffed by a support team which includes cleaners. This ensures the building is maintained and sanitary without costing residents time or leading to arguments.

Living in a BTR property also makes it easier for residents to keep on top of their finances. Paying bills on time can be tough, as there are so many outgoings people need to think about and schedule into a payment structure.

However, the cost of rent in BTR properties covers utilities such as water, electricity and broadband. This means residents are only paying one bill in return for services, instead of having to deal with several different outgoings by various due dates.

Although BTR mainly takes inspiration from HMO market, this is a good example of how HMO landlords can adapt to suit the changing needs of tenants. It’s not unheard of for landlords to charge residents an all-in-one fee covering rent, bills and services. By offering this to tenants, it can take a great deal of worry off their minds.

A Growing Need For Amenities

Another reason the HMO market has transitioned to co-living is the growing demand for a diverse range of amenities. A kitchen, living room and garden are usually the extent of spaces available in HMO properties, but BTR can provide residents with more room to play around with.

Co-living spaces offer residents a completely new way of living. Many BTR buildings have gyms, games rooms, restaurants and even cinemas onsite that cater to these needs. As mentioned earlier, modern life has

made it increasingly difficult to socialise. By having such a broad range of amenities available, residents can interact with one another in a variety of different ways.

As with all spaces in BTR properties, amenity areas have to be planned out with social interaction at the forefront. Some BTR providers do this by offering group exercise classes and designing roof terraces to accommodate community barbecues.

The important thing to remember is that amenity spaces only help form bonds if people can use them to discuss their shared interests. If not, residents may stay in their private rooms for the majority of the time.

What Does This Mean For HMO Market and BTR Properties?

While the HMO market has shifted towards stronger community living options, there will always be a need for both HMOs and BTR properties. For providers, the key to a successful investment is finding a way to make life easier and more inclusive for residents. This can only be done through well-designed spaces that cater to the needs of the end users.

A smaller HMO communal area can have a similar impact as a large co-living space if providers take the time to plan their Interior Design. At LOFT, our team specialises in designing living quarters that encourage social interaction, meaning we know exactly what it takes to create spaces that are fit for purpose. If you’re looking to furnish your HMO or BTR property, contact LOFT for expert guidance, services and products.