More people will either be living in rental accommodation for longer or for life, statistics show. As well as the younger age sectors, often called Generation Rent, older people are also downsizing and switching to rental properties to meet their needs. Between 2001 and 2011, the number of households aged 25 to 34 renting grew by 75%, while the number of households aged 35 to 64 grew by 95%. The UK is now seeing the rise of the build-to-rent sector, with investment in homes which are purpose-built for families to rent. While the plans are being drawn up, this is an ideal opportunity to build properties that suit tenants’ needs, rather than pander to an architect’s or developer’s dream.
Dominic Martin, Atlas Residential operations director, puts the case for operational considerations to be factored into the blueprint of a development and not tagged on as an afterthought. The government is committed to building thousands of new homes to help to meet demand, but the focus should be on what the people who will be actually living in the accommodation really want. High-rise glass and steel towers look impressive, but are they practical? As an example, the preferred rental home for many families is in low-rise apartment housing. These can be efficient in terms of space and design, as well as having shared communal amenities such as a BBQ area, pet exercise area, playgrounds, gyms and business suites. These operational services should be factored in during design, so that the living experience of tenants is taken into consideration. This could include smart metering, security, communal areas, staffing areas and high-speed internet. These will also have an impact on how efficient it is to run the building, as well as the quality of life for those living there.
The layout is key too, as there is no point building a playground in a dark corner of the complex which never gets the sun, or putting the gym in an obscure place which isn’t easy to access. Dominic Martin makes the point that getting these factors right will enable an on-site management team to operate more efficiently and will add to the value of the development as well as enhance the overall living experience for residents. That way everyone wins. Tenants will be happy to live and stay there, the management team will have more job satisfaction and the investor will be getting value for money.