Managing BTR growth: what the best operators can teach us

The challenge for Build to Rent operators to continue delivering the best possible service grows. What can the best operators teach us?

Apartment living area at Aston Place by Build to Rent operator Dandara Living - HomeViews | BTR News
Apartment living area at Aston Place by Dandara Living.

As the Build to Rent industry grows, so does the challenge for operators to continue to deliver the best possible service. The HomeViews 2022 National Build to Rent Report showed how the Build to Rent sector continues to provide outstanding service to its residents, with higher overall Star Ratings on HomeViews for 2021 than in 2020. The sector also saw higher scores for Customer Service and the proportion of residents who would recommend their landlord.

By Hannah Marsh, Co-Founder, HomeViews

HomeViews launched in February 2019 and has since published over 38,000 reviews from over 2,300 apartment and housing developments across the UK. We aim to provide valuable, insightful, and trustworthy content from verified resident reviews.

This year’s free HomeViews 2022 National Build to Rent Report is based on reviews from 64% of completed Build to Rent developments in the UK, giving the most in-depth insight into the resident experience for this growing sector.

Top developments for Management

The report revealed that there were 21 Build to Rent developments in 2021 that scored above average on all primary ratings on HomeViews. However, Management scores have declined for tenants in both Build to Rent and BTS, but particularly the latter – and the gap is widening.

Management ratings over time for BTR:BTS - HomeViews | BTR News

As portfolios grow it is increasingly challenging to maintain the highest scores. HomeViews found that operators with smaller portfolios (under 2,000 units) were, on average, rated higher than larger portfolios in most categories, but particularly for Management and Customer Service.

There were five operators that had above average Management scores for all of their developments – Way of Life, Vertus, The Quarters by Bravo, Dandara Living and Allsop.

“The lovely concierge team always welcome us with great smiles, they professionally manage sorting all active issues in a timely manner. Habiba and Kirsty are the best. They are the heart and soul of Aston Place. I have never met customer service providers who are working as hard to make our experience at Aston place better and unforgettable. A great big thank you to both of you.”

AL, Verified Resident on HomeViews, Aston Place by Dandara Living, October 2021

Consistent themes for top performers

Across the ten highest-rated developments for Management we saw some consistent themes. Customer Service was rated 4.92 out of five on average and had the strongest correlation to high Management scores. Some 47% of the reviews of the top ten mentioned the words ‘helpful’ or ‘helpfulness’ when talking about the staff, while 38% referenced how clean and tidy the development was and 24% said they felt safe.

This year we also saw more references to the impact of technology. Resident reviews from the best-performing developments frequently mentioned the timeliness and quality of their experience. This included booking a viewing, signing a contract, arranging the move-in and – once living in the development – booking or accessing services.

“Emails are picked up quickly and responses are given in a timely manner. The property management team are also just a phone call away which is helpful. Great use of an app system to deal with maintenance requests.”

Fi, Verified resident on HomeViews, East Village by Get Living, August 2021
Comparison of developments using Yardi solutions - HomeViews | BTR News

In this year’s report, HomeViews worked with Yardi to compare the scores of developments that used their software solutions with the rest of the HomeViews 2021 Build to Rent resident review sample. We found that residents rated Yardi developments higher than developments not using the software, across every HomeViews review category.