June 02, 2021

What Co-Living Means to Landlords

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There’s a great saying from Ancient Greece that’s just as relevant today as it was all those years ago:

“Nothing is constant but change.”

Put simply, everything evolves over time. And the rental market is no different.

The concept of renting has gone from being a necessity for those who couldn’t afford their own property to a lifestyle choice by those who don’t want the hassle of home ownership.

This shift has resulted in the growth of co-living.

But what is co-living, and how is it affecting traditional landlords? We detail everything you need to know below.

What is Co-Living?

Co-living is a lifestyle choice that’s growing in popularity all across the UK and with many different demographics. The idea is for residents to form a community with the people living in their building, creating strong bonds and friendships.

The rising build to rent sector is bringing co-living to the forefront, but the concept is nothing new — it’s just been adapted with a more modern slant.

Some earlier examples of co-living are:

  • HMOs

  • Care homes / Assisted living

  • Student halls

Any property where you’re encouraged to live alongside others, getting to know them and becoming friends can be seen as a form of co-living.

In BTR, though, the amps are turned up to 11 with community events and a wide range of amenities such as:

  • Lounge areas

  • Bars

  • Restaurants

  • Cinema rooms

  • Game rooms

Build to rent developments make it easier for groups to gather and for friendships to form. This is why it’s become popular with the younger market in particular who want to end the cycle of just going to work, coming home and doing the exact same thing the next day.

They want a bit of fun in the evening. They want to meet like-minded people. They want to live.

Should Traditional Landlords be Worried About Co-Living?

BTR is growing rapidly. There’s no denying it. But let’s put the numbers into perspective. There are:

  • 4.4 million households renting in the UK

  • 2.7 million private landlords

  • 53,000 completed BTR units

  • 80,000 BTR units in development or planning stages

Yes, BTR does a fantastic job of encouraging community living, but it’s still in its infancy. You can’t house over 4.4 million people in 53,000 units after all. Any article you read where the writer keeps mentioning how BTR is going to overthrow traditional buy to lets is thinking decades into the future.

Despite everything you’ve heard, BTL as we all know it is far from dead.

And as we said before, co-living is a lifestyle choice. Not every renter wants to live in a high rise with hundreds of other people. A good amount will always prefer to live in a house away from the city centre where they can raise their kids or have a quieter life.

The idea isn’t huge outside of metropolitan areas either because a scheme’s success relies on dense populations. There may come a time when smaller BTR properties will be more popular in quieter towns, but you’re unlikely to see a 500-bedroom tower in Skegness or Little Lever any time soon.

There’s too much discussion about how one property sector is going to take out the other. What a lot of us seem to be forgetting is that traditional private renting and co-living cater to different needs. They’re two sides of the same coin and definitely not at odds.

What Matters Most to Residents?

The rental market has changed a lot in modern times. Landlords way back in the day (we’re talking Ebenezer Scrooge in Victorian London times) thought they were doing their tenants a huge favour by providing the bare essentials — a roof and four walls.

That just doesn’t cut it any more.

But along the same lines, it doesn’t mean you have to do a complete 180 and throw everything but the kitchen sink at residents to ensure they’re happy.

So, what is it they’re after? What is it that landlords can offer residents so they stay on par with co-living buildings?

It’s the little things and personal touches. It’s remembering that your properties aren’t just investments, but homes where people want to feel safe, secure and happy.

There’s a unique opportunity for landlords to really get to know who’s living in their rental properties. Use that to your advantage.

We’re sure your residents already have a way to contact you in an emergency, but would they feel comfortable calling you about a minor inconvenience?

Like we said, it’s the little things that matter. A small problem can build and a whole host of small issues can become a real pain. Let your residents know they can come to you to talk about this. Better yet, take the initiative and ask them on a regular basis what you can do to improve.

It’s easier for residents in purpose built co-living spaces to raise an issue, as they’re more or less dealing with a large company as opposed to an individual. Take that company mindset, and allow your residents to have their say.

Most importantly, don’t take any feedback to heart. Approach the situation from the residents’ point of view, and try to action as many fair and reasonable requests as possible.

The happier they are, the less likely they’ll ever be tempted to leave. Not for another rental house or even for the allure of co-living.

Can Co-Living & Traditional BTLs Co-Exist?

In short, yes they can co-exist. No two people in the UK are the exact same, and just because co-living in BTR is on the rise, it doesn’t mean there’s no place on the rental market for traditional properties.

As long as your property is in good condition and you’ve put plenty of thought into making your house a home for residents, you shouldn’t struggle to find someone who wants to move in.

Over the last 18 years, we’ve seen how the rental market has evolved. People First Design keeps residents happy and more likely to stay in your property.

The allure of co-living isn’t for everyone, and our extensive experience in the rental market means we know how to make a house into the perfect home.


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