The report provides data from feedback from 1,500 resident reviews across 84 Build to Rent developments. This accounts for 37% of the currently occupied Build to Rent developments nationally – across eight cities: London, Manchester, Birmingham, Liverpool, Leeds, Newcastle, Bristol and Bath. These developments are managed by 34 different Build to Rent operators.
Key data / feedback from the report
The rise of the concierge
The facility most valued by residents in the top 10 developments is a concierge service. This was highlighted by over a third of the residents who wrote a review. Many commented on how much of a difference it makes – at the end of a long day – to see a smiling, welcoming face.
Residents also praised concierges for collecting parcels, organising social events and many have become genuine friends. The presence of a concierge amounts to a 19.42% higher building management score on average in Build to Rent buildings. 10% of residents stated that they felt safe as a result of the concierge.
Security is important
Crime and Safety is a key consideration for residents. The Grenfell tragedy has raised awareness and caution, so residents do their due diligence by checking health and safety more than they would have before. Of those that referenced security and crime, 28% of reviewers said they felt safe because their development provided a concierge and additional security features.
These included key fobs on all doors from the entrance to their flats, fingerprint door locks, CCTV and security staff that patrol the grounds 24/7. With these measures in place, lots of residents stated that they didn’t mind living in areas perceived as slightly less safe.
Data revealed that developments with a concierge received on average a 10.52% higher rating overall compared to those that didn’t offer one. Those developments that didn’t have a 24/7 concierge were more likely to have reviews referencing that they felt unsafe.
Due to Covid-19 and lockdown, 34% of all reviews mentioned safety and security in some way compared to 17% in 2019. Most talk positively about how their management company or concierge makes them feel safe.
Letswithpets has led a campaign for more pet friendly rentals and the opportunity that this provides for landlords, namely longer tenancies and a wider audience of residents. 74% of Build to Rent developments are now pet friendly – and the top 10 scoring developments by facilities all allow pets.
One of the improvements that residents in the top 10 requested was the option to take pets into communal areas, which isn’t allowed in a few developments. There are also lots of good reviews from residents who can take their pets onto the communal roof terraces – such as in Fizzy Living’s schemes.
A focus on health and wellness
Another facility that residents in Build to Rent developments value is a gym, especially if it’s open 24-hours. Data showed that 28% of resident reviews in the top 10 rated developments mention its benefits.
The coronavirus pandemic has forced residents to turn their balconies into yoga studios, while many communal spaces were closed. Health and wellbeing has heightened and operators prioritised health and wellbeing, and many provided access to courtyards and outdoor spaces to allow residents to exercise.
Residents also mentioned that some developments offer personal trainers and free fitness classes, which means they can meet and socialise with their neighbours at the same time as keeping fit and healthy. Where there wasn’t a gym, resident reviews stated a preference for one. An example is Essential Living’s Dressage Court, where reviews showed an uptick once a gym was added (off the back of customer feedback).
Ventilation and heat retention needs to be a larger consideration in building design
Residents frequently commented on excessive heat in their flats during summer. Factors contributing to this include more glass being used in design, improved insulation, the increasing number of high-rise buildings and a lack of air conditioning.
Great insulation has its benefits with many reviewers saying they hardly had to pay for heating during the winter as their flats were so warm. However, of the top 10 Build to Rent developments rated for design, eight of the buildings had reviewers expressing varying levels of frustration around the building being overheated during the summer.
Positivity surrounding high rise (10 storeys plus) living for renters
Data from the report revealed that residents love the views from high-rise buildings. Many of the developments offer terraces or rooftop areas hosting events or yoga classes, or residents use these areas as a place to relax. Many of the communal spaces can be hired out for events and parties, which was mentioned as being a welcome bonus.
Community and well-designed communal spaces is key
Some residents in the bottom 10 for facilities commented on the lack of community and not knowing their neighbours. This highlights the importance of designing communal spaces that encourage residents to connect in a safe and socially distant way. Of the 60% of developments that have communal spaces, over 60% offer events and activities – a feature that boosted the design score.
Developments offering events showed a 13.26% increase in the average Building Management Score compared to those without events. 91% of the Fizzy Living residents who wrote a review on HomeViews this year also suggested more events and community activities for their developments.
Image credit: Fizzy Living