London co-living operator BAM defies lockdown

Co-living operator - Built Asset Management (BAM) – defies lockdown and reports yearly growth over the past three years.

BAM bedroom at co-living scheme - Built Asset Management | BTR News

London’s co-living market appears to remain an area of growth within the PRS despite the effects of the pandemic, according to company data released by one of the capital’s leading co-living operators – Built Asset Management (BAM).

The company data reveals that BAM has experienced an average 44% yearly growth in the past three years, ranging from 2018-2021. This growth incorporates the financial year of 2020-21, within which huge restrictions were placed on the PRS as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, and the company were unable to complete any new rental agreements for a substantial period of time due to lockdown.

BAM specialises in offering high-end co-living properties to young professionals in the capital, with the average age of residents being 28.2 years old. 

Alex Gibbs, Co-Founder and Director of BAM shared his thoughts on the reasons behind their continued growth despite the difficulties faced throughout the pandemic.

“There’s no doubt that the past year has been incredibly difficult for many within the PRS, particularly within the co-living sub-sector, with estimations suggesting that over 30% of London’s house share operator industry actually no longer exists. 

“The fact that we’ve managed to defy this trend is undoubtedly a huge milestone for the company, indicative of the strong position in which we sailed into the pandemic, the implementation of some sound but contrarian strategy and the fantastic work of our incredible team.”

Alex Gibbs, Co-Founder and Director, BAM

Going against advice, BAM took the bold decision to underwrite full returns to all landlords within their property portfolio at their own cost throughout 2020-21 – equating to £250m worth of London real estate. The decision was made at a time when estimates revealed that, by April 2020, UK tenants had paid less than half of the rent owed to UK landlords as pandemic panic set in.

Alex explained how this move won credibility with landlords and ultimately bolstered relationships to minimise the detrimental impact of lockdown restrictions.

“Ultimately, we felt strongly that this strategy – whilst representing a huge expense in the short term during what was an incredibly uncertain time for the industry – would pay dividends in the long run by breeding complete trust amongst our landlords and corporate partners. We knew that, whilst things would inevitably be painful in the depths of restrictions and economic closures, the move would act as a powerful springboard for growth in the wake of the pandemic; enabling us to rebound and re-align with our pre-Covid growth trajectory, as quickly as the measures and the market would allow. This is a move which now looks to be paying off as the market steadily recovers.

“This risk and expense incurred enabled us to keep control of all of the co-living properties within our portfolio, ensuring that our offering was never compromised for tenants seeking co-living solutions in the capital. The move also ensured that our landlords received full returns on their investments despite the sharp and aggressive market drop. It is our belief that this pain endured during the down market will enable future successes in the up market. This was very much front of mind for us as data collated on a global scale shows that the co-living trend is here to stay and is unlikely to suffer long-term disruption as a result of the pandemic.”

Alex Gibbs, Co-Founder and Director, BAM