April 26, 2021

Why Residents Determine the Spec of the Build to Rent Market in the UK

Sutton Court, Sutton LOFT

When you go out shopping, do you buy what you like or what the store manager wants? Unless you happen to be married to the store manager, you’ll probably just buy what you like.

The items we buy have an impact on stores. They change their stock depending on what people are asking for. Buyers determine the market.

The build to rent market in the UK is just like a shop. If something is appealing and useful, it attracts potential tenants. If something isn’t appealing, potential tenants look somewhere else for what they need.

One thing we all need to keep in mind is that BTR schemes should be developed for the people who live in them. A lot of developers and operators already cater to the market’s needs, whether they’re aware of it or not.

In this blog, we take a look at how the UK’s BTR market has changed in line with what residents want and expect from build to rent.

Potential Tenants Want to See Something Different

Groundhog Day is a great film, and it has a lot to teach us (surprisingly). If you’ve not seen it, Bill Murray plays a weatherman forced to relive the same day over and over again. As you can guess, he gets tired of it pretty quickly.

With that in mind, how do you think potential tenants feel when they check out BTR schemes and every building and every unit looks the exact same? Yeah, they get sick of seeing grey and magnolia everywhere, the same sofa, the same wardrobe, the same everything.

Variety is the spice of life. It doesn’t matter if you’re competing against another company, or if you have multiple developments in one city, residents want to see something different. Otherwise, they might as well not bother looking around at all.

Developers have to challenge themselves. Find diverse furniture, go for a different colour palette, appeal to a wider range of people. Give potential tenants an option. Complacency is bad for business, and you can guarantee that serious competitors won’t copy-and-paste their plans if they’re branching out.

You’ll need a brand, something about your developments that’s instantly recognisable. But that doesn’t mean putting the same sofa in every unit just because it’s coordinated. Residents have come to expect that little bit more, and they’ll continue to do so as the build to rent market in the UK grows. This means being constantly aware of what potential tenants want and finding a way to give it to them.

Amenities & Services Create a Reason to Rent & Renew

BTR doesn’t just provide residents with a place to live, it creates a lifestyle. According to the latest reports, build to rent tenants spend over a third of their wages on rent every year. This can reach up to 40% in London. One of the main reasons BTR residents are okay with this is because amenities make their life easier and better.

But let’s say you don’t have many amenities that tenants use. Do you think they’re likely to stick around once their lease is up? The build to rent market in the UK is highly competitive, and there’s always the need to find the next big thing in residential operations first. Or at the very least, there’s the need to do something the best.

Take some time to look around your building. What was installed because it was asked for by tenants? What did your market research tell you was a necessity in BTR? Have you taken anything out because it was never used, or adapted an amenity space for new use?

Convenience is key for residents. Most of your tenants will be young professionals working in a busy city centre. Research from Built Asset Management discovered the average age of renters in co-living accommodation is 28.2 years. Your operations change depending on their needs. Anything that makes life easier or better for tenants will have a positive impact when advertising new units and renewing leases.

Combining Affordability with Quality

There’s always going to be a discussion on whether cost-effective items come with a knock to quality. The amount of competition in the build to rent market in the UK actually works in your favour here.

Developers and operators know they can’t install cheap or flimsy furniture and furnishings, or items will need replacing regularly. Pieces have to be sturdy, but they have to retain a sense of character and homeliness.

Service providers and suppliers have to adapt to your needs in the same way you have to adapt to the residents’ needs. Suppliers who specialise in BTR know they have to provide quality items at a price that doesn’t break the bank. If they don’t do this, what’s to stop you from looking elsewhere?

It’s residents who are demanding high quality, as they want to live in a modern building they can be proud of. That said, they’re not going to be happy if it’s reflected too much in their rent.

The greater the expectation there is on furnishings, the more effort developers, operators and suppliers have to put into creating and installing perfect pieces at the right price.

Everyone has to constantly be upping their game. No one wants to lose custom to a competitor. So, when a resident voices issues over furnishings, it’s always wise to take their comments under consideration.

Adapting to Expectations for the Build to Rent Market in the UK

What’s the main way to ensure a successful BTR development? Listening to the residents! Schemes are designed to make their lives better and easier, so their suggestions are probably the ones you should be taking on board the most.

Of course, specialists in the market can help as well. As an example, we’ve fitted countless BTR developments, and we’ve spoken to a lot of residents about their needs.

If you need some assistance in making your scheme high spec to meet the market’s demands, get in contact with our team. We’ll make sure to provide you with the best advice.


For our complete BTR portfolio

Download our BTR Case Study brochure