Rise in rental income proves Build to Rent sector’s resilience

Grainger reports an increase in rental income despite Covid-19, proving the Build to Rent sector’s resilience.

Clippers Build to Rent scheme reception - Grainger | BTR News
Clippers Build to Rent scheme reception.

Grainger has said its PRS pipeline – totalling £2bn in investment – remains in progress. A few Build to Rent schemes temporarily closed due to new Covid-19 safety guidelines, so social distancing measures were adhered to. But their nine schemes currently under construction are now active and open – continuing work on their 9000 new Build to Rent homes pipeline.

“Grainger is in a strong position financially and our portfolio is performing as expected, showing a high degree of resilience during these uncertain times. We have achieved high rent collection, strong rental growth and maintained occupancy levels over 97%. We have continued to grow our business, serve our customers and deliver new rental homes.”

Helen Gordon, Chief Executive, Grainger

Grainger said its rental earnings was £37m in the six months to the end of March 2020 – with an increase of 27% on the previous year. The rental market remains active, but at lower levels – proving its resilience during the coronavirus pandemic. Customer behaviours shifted with a rise in the number of renewals compared to new lets, as customers chose to postpone or cancels home moves.

“Our business has been focused on three key areas since the coronavirus lockdown: Innovate, Communicate and Improve. We have implemented new ways of serving our customers remotely and enabling safe interactions and property transactions using technology and virtual viewings.

We have increased our contact with and support for our customers, suppliers and partners. And we have been investing in training for our employees so that we can emerge from this global crisis stronger. 

Helen Gordon, Chief Executive, Grainger

An increase in enquiries was also reported in recent weeks – returning to pre-Covid-19 levels, as Grainger leverage their digital platforms and virtual viewings. Their rental performance has been positive, with 95% of rent collected in March and 94% in April. So far, only 2% of customers reported affordability concerns due to Covid-19, with less than 1% needing assistance via rent deferral repayment plans.

Investment activity and pipeline

Grainger have £1,048m investment in their secured PRS pipeline – comprising 4,213 new homes, £349m in the planning and legal process and £600m for the TfL partnership. They have secured five new Build to Rent schemes in the first half of the year – 1,377 new homes totalling £376m:

  • Exchange Square in Birmingham – £77m investment and 375 units.
  • Canning Town 3 in London – £56m investment and 132 units.
  • Capital Quarter in Cardiff – £57m investment and 307 units.
  • Queens Road in Nottingham – £56m investment and 348 units.
  • Waterloo in London – £130m additional investment and 215 units.

“Due to the strength of the business and the resilience of our sector, our dividend policy will be maintained, with a +6% increase in our interim dividend. 

“Our focus for the rest of the year will remain on the continuity of service to our customers and the delivery of new rental homes, whilst ensuring the health and safety of all our employees, customers and suppliers remains our highest priority.” 

Helen Gordon, Chief Executive, Grainger