Built-to-rent Living: How COVID-19 Is Changing Rental Living

The economic impact of COVID-19 was completely felt in almost every industry, and the real estate sector is no exception. Properties are getting more expensive, while rental housing continues to plummet as people look for affordable residential options. In the UK, the rental sector is at a steady growth, with homeowners wanting to rent privately.

As more people lost their jobs and livelihood, financial issues are plaguing homeowners and tenants to reconsider their current residence and look for affordable rental housing. Employees and students are also spending more time at home, causing them to reevaluate their living spaces.

With the pandemic affecting how everyone lives, the UK real estate is seeing a huge trend in build-to-rent (BTR) living. Build-to-rent refers to apartment blocks built specifically to lease out to tenants. This is where estate and letting agents come in to help tenants find the perfect residential space and help landlords manage their properties.

Also known as multi-family living, the BTR is gaining a stronger presence in the estate market since more residents are recognizing the lifestyle and flexibility BTR offers. So if you’re planning to hop on the BTR trend, you may want to know the opportunities provided by BTR living amid a global pandemic.

Reinventing retail spaces

The high streets received the worst hit from the pandemic as many establishments went out of business, leaving large-scale retail areas vacant. These unoccupied sprawling spaces inspired landlords to reinvent their properties and turn them into a BTR opportunity by converting retail spaces into residential areas.

BTR has offered landlords a stable market despite a pandemic and continues to attract investors looking for reliable, long-term returns. This resulted in an increase of investor profiles, such as family enterprises, retailers, and smaller funds.

When it comes to renters, BTR living is no longer limited to urban professionals looking for affordable rental places. Tenants over 55 are now shifting towards renting because of its flexibility and purpose-built communities.


Lifestyle changes

The BTR living is one of the biggest game-changers in the UK rental market as more people are looking for lifestyle and housing changes. It is designed to enhance the quality of life to keep up with the emerging trends in the housing market. From furniture rental, activity rooms, pet-pampering, and co-working spaces, BTR conquers a large scope of the average needs of a modern tenant.

As the pandemic caused a sudden shift in the typical eight-hour workday, families are looking for residential spaces that can cater to their emerging needs. They’re looking for homes that go beyond their purpose by allowing residents to work, study, and play within their place of residence.

Proximity to basic services, such as food, coffee, transportation, and entertainment facilities are some of the great perks offered by BTR living. For example, a modern apartment complex may consist of social aspects, such as swimming pools, on-site hairdressers, gym studios, cinemas, bars, and other activities to keep the residents occupied. In turn, this saves residents the time and effort to travel outside their homes since they can easily access the basic services they need.

Other developments in BTR living may include green spaces and garden areas, perfect for relaxation or social gatherings. Some may also offer a communal office area for corporate employees looking for a relaxing work environment away from their living spaces.

Co-living with furry companions

Google searches for ‘dog’ and ‘cat’ hit an all-time high because of the lockdown. More people are considering pet ownership to have a furry companion in their homes. Unfortunately, the rental sector is traditionally known for its pet restrictions, with leases and landlords prohibiting animals because of the loud noise and smell.

But modern living has proven that people are valuing animal companionship more than ever. To address the increasing pet ownership trend, the BTR industry is also adapting to this consumer demand. Early this year, the UK government has updated the model tenancy agreement to allow pet owners to find rented accommodation easier. This encouraged estate developers to allow pets and offer pet services to increase their appeal among pet owners.

Some BTR developments offer dog walking areas and pet grooming services. This co-living layout made it easier for pet owners to hold meet-ups and pet events with fellow pet owner neighbors.

The current global climate has driven landlords and real estate professionals to reinvent their leasing process, including their property and operations management practices. In turn, renters may expect more affordable rental prices beyond 2021 as the impact of the pandemic remains felt in the rental market. Until then, BTR opportunities will continue to be a feasible option for people looking for lifestyle or housing change.