Build-to-rent is a burgeoning sector of the UK housing industry. It can offer residents a unique renting experience, and one operator has gone a step further for those self-isolating.
The popularity of purpose-built rental accommodation has soared in recent years. This has gone hand in hand with a dramatic shift over time in homeownership levels compared to renting households.
While ‘Generation Rent‘ once described a fairly specific type of person, it now encompasses a vast proportion of the population. Young friends, family members, graduates, professionals, families, empty nesters and older people can all fall into this bracket.
This explains why the build-to-rent sector is now booming. Unlike traditional buy-to-let, it offers much more to its tenants. Many build-to-rent buildings are purpose-built blocks of flats which provide additional amenities to tenants. On-site gyms, concierge, work spaces, meeting rooms, social areas and dedicated outdoor space are common in these buildings. Creches and even dog-walking services exist in some properties. They are all ways of creating a sense of community that renters might not otherwise feel.
One provider, Moda Living, operates a monthly ‘wellbeing’ service for residents, which tenants can access remotely. Now, with the events of recent weeks meaning more people are house-bound, they have taken their offering a step further.
Tenants in Moda’s build-to-rent apartments will be able to access weekly well-being sessions, which can be streamed online. They will also run a series of fitness classes for all residents.
One of the classes took place in the Angel Gardens scheme in Manchester. People overlooking the courtyard participated from their balconies or living rooms, while others watched online to take part.
“At Moda, health and wellbeing is in our DNA,” said Moda chief executive Johnny Caddick. “We’ve adapted to address what’s happening in the world. We moved a lot of our initiatives and made them accessible to our tenants if they’re self-isolating or social distancing.”
Lydia Eustace, Moda Living’s marketing director and head of health and wellbeing, said: “Everything we do is around community and I think that’s even more important now – to keep everyone connected.”
The company has increased residents’ inclusive free internet allowance to 1gb due to the rise in people working from home and streaming.
This week, the government announced new measures on social distancing. More places will now close, including many shops, libraries, playgrounds and outdoor gyms.
People have been told to only go out for exercise once a day alone or with members of their household. When people do come into contact with others, they should try to remain two metres apart at all times. The government has also banned public gatherings of more than two people.
Because of the new measures, it is likely more companies and service providers will find new ways to operate. While Moda Living has increased its virtual offerings, other build-to-rent blocks are likely to follow suit. The proptech (property technology) industry could see greater demand for innovative new ways to do things without coming into contact with others.
After this, some suspect home-working will become much more common. Millions of companies have had to set up the technology to enable their employees to work from home. Once this is in place, some may then favour this type of flexible working more than they did before. This could change peoples’ housing priorities, which you can read more about here.