The British Property Federation reported a total of 152,071 Build to Rent (BTR) properties in the UK at the end of 2019, to include completed projects, those under construction, and in planning. The market has seen a 15 percent rise since 2018 and a rise in properties across all development stages:

• Properties completed have increased from 30,312 to 40,181 units – a rise of 33%.
• Properties that are currently under construction have increased from 34,744 to 36,415 units – a rise of 5%.
• Properties in planning have increased from 66,660 to 75,475 units – a rise of 13%.

Increasing numbers of younger people in the UK are taking to shared accommodation as a more affordable solution – renting with friends or other people in similar situations to alleviate the stresses that renting alone can put on their finances. Despite flat-sharing becoming less prevalent as people get into their 30s, over 25% of private single renters are still sharing accommodation by age 35 according to data from the Department of Work & Pensions.

Build-to-Rent properties have a broad appeal as they come with amenities such as an on-site gym, social activities, and maintenance services. So not only does it provide more rental housing options, it offers social living – something that’s gaining some traction now. BTR appeals to singles who want the privacy of a single-family home but want a sense of community. Sharers like BTR as they can live with their friends and yet have all the amenities they had as students.

Saddled with significant student loan debt, Millennials often cannot afford the deposit for their own home and possibly, therefore, enjoy spending disposable income on other things such as holidays. There are also many other “renters-by-choice” such as Gen Xers, and downsizing baby boomers who want a comfortable personal space while living with others in dedicated rental communities.

BTR market growth reflects a cultural shift. House prices and the general cost of living have both increased exponentially in the last two decades, meaning that the idea of ‘settling down and starting a family’ seems out of reach to many would-be home buyers. This has coincided with more young people (with a significant increase in young women) deciding to focus on their careers, and securing a high salary, before they buy a home, and start a family.

This has created a market of affluent young professionals, who value flexibility, and meaningful downtime, to balance out busy workdays. With the majority being university educated, having a home that mirrors the social aspects of student residence – with a more sophisticated, luxurious living experience – is seen as highly desirable.