Blog | Lettings | Build-to-Rent [BTR] has arrived in Birmingham.
What is Build-to-Rent? And why should you care?
Without boring you with the property mumbo-jumbo; Build-to-Rent means that the whole building is generally owned by one landlord and run by one management company – a bit like student halls, but a hell of a lot nicer.
The owners are large companies who invest in the initial quality of the build, in the amenities provided to residents, they provide concierge, on-site maintenance; these elements add up very quickly to a great tenant experience.
This differs from traditional buildings where each individual apartment is owned by different landlords, managed by different agents and the building run by a block management company
Is there a catch? Well, kind of. But not really.
Living in a building like this is a tad more expensive. But it’s worth every single penny.
Why? We’ll get to the flowery stuff like amenities and communities in a minute, but first what really matters: living in a safe and fully functioning apartment, always.
The current traditional method of residential lettings is fairly clunky and cumbersome. Even if the process to find and secure the property is easy enough, it’s not always such a success story once you have moved in. High street agencies have two very separate teams of people who deal with you during your journey; the first team, who help you secure the let are trained to persuade you of the dream (and rightly so) of the property that you eventually choose. Your new life in your new home will be perfect and beautiful and perfect Instagram fodder. Except then it isn’t, because the second team you are transferred to quite often are trained only to be reactive. Only to jump when you report a problem, and then, only to their convenience.
In the first month your heating fails. In mid-December. And nobody can come out until January. And now it’s snowing… Sounds like an exaggeration, but unless the agency has a dedicated team of contractors who are willing to come out over the festive period, then you are up a creek, as they say. For the record, FleetMilne does have a dedicated team, so we won’t ever leave you without heat over Christmas, but you get the point… Not all agents are FleetMilne.
Even if the agency is well run and reacts promptly, you’ll have had to make several calls or send a few emails to get the problem sorted and to arrange access to the apartment. You will no doubt then have to chase for updates. This all eats into your valuable time, and all for a problem you didn’t want in the first place.
BTR brings you a world where you report any problems through an app (or online system) and click a button to grant unfettered access whilst they sort the issue. Your updates are sent to you by message. And by the time you get home, it’s all resolved by the onsite dedicated maintenance team.
Build-to-Rent operators are obsessed with customer service. You will see a resolution, no matter the efforts they’ve had to go to in the background to make it happen. A traditional landlord has a mortgage to pay and can’t afford to just throw money at the situation to keep you happy, even if they’d like to. Whereas, BTR’s number one goal is to keep their tenants happy.
The world of BTR, however, is a long-term multinational business model that doesn’t get hung up on the minutiae of the day’s takings. It’s about long-term sustainable growth and the key to this is tenant happiness. Schemes that have great reputations will attract waiting lists, more investment from the owners, and will financially perform the best.
For the residents, the way to achieve this is to ensure their every needs are met, without a big song and dance. Your online orders are delivered to your building and the concierge doesn’t get grumpy with you about it – in fact, they take delivery and let you know you have a package! Perhaps your Ocado delivery arrives and needs chilling or putting into your own fridge…done. These sound like they are perks out of a fairytale, but they are the near future of BTR. Some schemes already offer these perks or something akin, and many are preparing to offer far better.
Storage, a must-have in most people’s books, will be provided onsite so that you don’t waste crucial space in your home, and range from privately-caged bicycle parking, to pushchair storage, to lockers for storing large seasonal items such as golf clubs and skis. Nobody wants to be using up their precious storage space on items that will get used occasionally, but equally, who wants to have to schlep across town to Big Yellow?
Many of the schemes offer either subsidised or free gym areas – weights, spin machines, yoga rooms, Pilates areas. The operations company will monitor these areas and adapt them if necessary, meaning that space doesn’t get wasted. Areas of the scheme don’t end up as dead zones with wilting plants and sad grubby walls. If the fashion for Zumba passes (as it likely will) then the space can be repurposed to fit the new needs of the residents. Perhaps a number of the residents have had children and a morning creche is more appropriate, then this can be organised and staffed – it’s all about what the residents want and need.
And if you’re baby-free, office-free and on your own timetable? Then head down to the onsite coffee shop and plug into the free Wi-Fi and check your Facebook or Instagram account for the eighth time today – why not? It’s all designed for your comfort and convenience.
Of course, some schemes are going to try and compete by offering ‘more than’ their competitors, and time will only tell if these are useful or just gimmicks. Cinema rooms, swimming pools, saunas, running tracks… if it looks extra, it will get an airing at some point.
And finally, if you aren’t interested in faffing about with setting up utility accounts (who is?) and navigating the laborious work of electricity and gas companies, most BTR schemes also include bills in the rent.
The whole point is that the new model of living is designed around the residents’ convenience, and if it makes life easier and tenants happier, it will feature.