Industry experts have highlighted the urgent need to change perceptions of renting and called on the Government to support innovation in the sector.
With the number of people renting in the UK continuing to grow, representatives from across the built environment sector met to determine what the sector needs from the new government.
Discussion highlighted the need for more guidance and innovation in the rental market. Build to Rent properties — which replicate the security and amenities of home ownership with the flexibility of renting — are seen as a potential game-changer for the industry. But a lack of awareness among the public and local government is a challenge that needs to be overcome. Recent polling by Deltapoll showed that three fiths of the British public have not heard of Built to Rent. Of those that have, less than a quarter feel they know what it is.
Representatives from MHCLG, Homes England, the GLA and the British Property Federation took part in the discussion held by Build to Rent online search platform, Love to Rent, and consultancy, ARCADIS.
Jamie Ratcliffe, Executive Director of Business Performance and Partnerships at Network Homes, said: “I think there is a real opportunity for some leadership in the sector to sell the benefits build to rent shares with home ownership in security of tenure and customisation. There is also a need for real innovation in the sector, if someone could create a consumer-facing fund to directly invest in build to rent then it could also offer asset ownership. Society needs this to address the twin challenges of an aging population and declining rates of home ownership.”
Richard Jones, Partner at ARCADIS, added: “With the universally accepted challenge of the need for 300,000 new homes per year in the UK, the Build to Rent sector will be key to supporting this and therefore the perception of this product must change from a home of last resort to a home of choice.”
The event comes weeks after Love to Rent and Arcadis signed a joint letter along with others in the sector calling on the Prime Minister to appoint a Minister for Renting in his cabinet. The letter highlighted the Government’s current emphasis on homeownership and the need to ensure that as much importance is placed on improving conditions for renters. Members of the event discussed how the role would work and how it could help to shift more focus towards renting as opposed to homeownership.