ULI sees brighter future in Build to Rent schemes for millions of renters

More than nine million tenants face a brighter future as a revolution in Britain’s rental market heralds a new breed of buildings created for rent with corporate landlords promising consistent customer service.

A new 180-page guide published by the Urban Land Institute, a global non-for-profit focused on the built environment active in 27 countries, aims to show architects, developers and planners what “good” looks like.

With Build to Rent: A Best Practice Guide, ULI wants to support the development of a corporate rental sector in Britain – funded by institutional investors, such as pension funds.


In the guide, ULI explains how developers and local authorities can go about creating clusters of homes for rent so that they appeal to their target markets, often including the next generation of millennials.

It suggests that buildings be designed from “the inside out” – with thought given to how economies of scale can be gained through building management and shared services.

The way Build to Rent is treated within the planning system is currently no different from housing for sale, which is a barrier to the sector’s growth.

When considered by planners, Build to Rent schemes should be valued on the income they produce – rather than the sale value of the homes. Recognition from councils that the properties will be rented for the long-term – rather than sold – would enable more developments to be viable, as adjustments would need to be made to planning levies.

The guide urges developers and planners to be flexible, impressing a growing need for homes that cater for the under-served mid-market.

The potential for “branded” landlords to manage blocks under a single ownership is one of the focus areas for the guide. It says that property managers should be brought in at the design stage of buildings, adding that branded developments have the potential to drive customer loyalty and add value.


Alex Notay, policy director for ULI UK, said:

“Build to Rent housing has the potential to serve an incredibly diverse customer base. Ensuring these homes are designed and built to last will be crucial in supporting the returns long-term investors will be seeking.”

Martin Bellinger, chief operating officer at Essential Living, said:

“Our simple ambition is that customers’ homes begin and end at the door of the building. This is about offering a genuine consumer experience quite unlike anything renters in Britain currently receive.”

In preparation for the guide, ULI conducted several study tours across the U.S. where “multifamily” housing – America’s name for rental clusters – is commonplace. However, the guide also recognises that whilst insight can be drawn from abroad, the UK offer will need to be specific to the UK market.

Copies of the Guide are available to order online priced at £45 for ULI members or Public Sector and £95 for non-ULI members. An order form can be downloaded on ULI’s website (PDF).