Press Releases

10 Aug 2020

Build-to-rent sector set sights on UK regions for new housing supply

  • The number of build-to-rent homes in planning across the UK, outside of London, increases by 52 per cent
  • Future growth in London remains more subdued
  • Starts and completions drop in the wake of lockdown

04 August 2020, London: Research published today by the British Property Federation (BPF) shows that there are now 167,853 build-to-rent homes – new, high-quality and professionally-managed homes built for renters – complete, under construction or in planning across the UK. This is a 22 per cent jump against the same period last year.

To aid transparency on the sector and its growth, the research has been produced by Savills, commissioned by the BPF, and draws on Molior data in London. It is published quarterly as an interactive map on the BPF’s website.

Today’s findings reveal that between Q2 2019 and Q2 2020, the number of completed build-to-rent homes rose by 37 per cent, the number under construction decreased by 5 per cent and the number in planning jumped by 27 per cent.

Table 1: Total number of build-to-rent homes recorded at the end of Q2 2020 vs Q2 2019

While the sector continues to accelerate new housing supply outside of London, with a rise of 52 per cent in the number of homes in planning in the last 12 months across the regions, future growth in the capital remains more subdued.

The number of build-to-rent homes in planning in London increased by 4 per cent since the end of Q2 2019.

Table 2: Total number of build-to-rent homes recorded at the end of Q2 2020 vs at Q2 2019 in London and the regions

While the sector is preparing for future growth, with a significant increase in the number of build-to-rent homes in planning compared to a year ago, the number of starts and completions saw a steep decline from Q1 to Q2 2020, reflecting the unique circumstances of the Covid-19 outbreak, and a break with what had been a strong 2019 and Q1 2020.

In Q1 2020, the sector undertook 4,297 starts and 3,417 completions, but Q2 has seen a sharp decline for both with only 1,827 starts and 1,640 completions.

Table 3: Total number of build-to-rent starts and completions each quarter

While professional investment firms typically finance build-to-rent and manage the development for the long-term, the research today also shows the breakdown of types of organisation building the new homes. Local developers are currently responsible for building 28 per cent of the market, with UK housebuilders (27%), major UK developers (17%), contractors (14%), registered providers (9%) and major international developers (3%) making up the rest.

Ian Fletcher, Director of Real Estate Policy, British Property Federation comments:

“Our research shows investor confidence in build-to-rent housing continues, with a greater commitment from the sector today to delivering new, high-quality rental homes across the UK compared to a year ago.

“The sector will play a key role in supporting the government’s ambitious plans to ‘level up’ the country’s regions and in building a shared recovery where more people across the country, whether they choose or need to rent, will have more choice of rental properties available to them.

“The build-to-rent sector’s growth will also aid the Prime Minister’s ambitions to ‘Build Build Build’, with valuable construction jobs being created in all parts of the UK, but this requires momentum behind converting planning applications to construction starts. These decisions however will be on a knife-edge for the next year, as risks rise and productivity remains low as a result of Covid-19, and so the Government must ensure its does not take this much-needed new investment for granted, and both our planning and tax systems give confidence to investors to make decisions today for the long-term health of the UK housing market.”

Jacqui Daly, Director, Savills residential research adds:

“It will be a while before we fully understand the impact of lockdown on the sector, but it is clear that existing affordability issues, stricter lending criteria and the end of the furlough scheme will force aspiring first time buyers to delay buying until the wider economy recovers and underpin demand for secure, well-managed private rented accommodation. 

“Business strategies will undoubtedly be tweaked over coming months, but investors should take encouragement from the fact that US multifamily was one of the fastest real estate sectors to recover after the global financial crisis.  Investment volumes here fell to just £96m in the second quarter, but July saw a number of major funding deals and the under offer bank suggests UK build-to-rent is set for a convincing rebound in the second half of 2020.”

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