Build to Rent: Bringing a PRS boost to Edinburgh

High-quality accommodation with access to gym facilities, shared co-workspaces and other communal areas, not to mention sustainable design with windows designed to attract maximum daylight – Build to Rent (BTR) does indeed sound like a tenant’s dream. 

Many Edinburgh letting agents have witnessed the difference in a tenant’s life this government-led, high-quality and purpose-built housing initiative can make. 

Not only is the standard of housing much improved compared to much of that is currently available in the Private Rental Sector (PRS) in Edinburgh, but the properties are also professionally-managed. 

This means no more waiting for days – or even weeks – until the landlord finally gets around to fixing the fridge, replacing the microwave or changing that loose tile on the stairs. 

The professional management of the property is usually carried out on-site, possibly even with a concierge service. 

In a way, this is typical of a current upmarket Manhattan or European apartment block (but without the liveried doorman).

In a nutshell then, Build to Rent is:

  • A range of high-quality rental units in one development with shared communal facilities and on-site amenities
  • Ownership by an ‘institution’ e.g. property development company 
  • Professional on-site management

Improving current PRS standards

Build to Rent will improve the existing PRS in two main ways. The first is that it will obviously introduce high quality housing to the market. 

Secondly, it will encourage existing private landlords to offer similar high-quality accommodation and managed services in order to be able to compete. 

In other words, force the landlords currently ‘cruising along’ with sub-standard rental properties, to markedly ‘raise their game’- and which should certainly improve life for existing and future tenants.

Build to Rent developments in Edinburgh

You can currently find upmarket BTR developments in the city’s Lochrin Quay and McDonald Road, with another planned for Fountainbridge. 

Other, less expensive BTR developments, are at Harbour Gateway and Western Harbour. Many have schools nearby, as well as parks and supermarkets.

Renting is the future for Millennials and Generation Z

In terms of meeting the current housing need, it’s not enough. Edinburgh’s population is predicted to rise from around 489,000 to 600,000 by 2030. Around one quarter of residents rent privately (mostly individuals, couples or groups in the 18-34 age bracket). 

With the difficulty in accessing a mortgage, not to mention the high property prices in the city, many young people see renting as a life-long state of affairs. 

They have already abandoned the idea of ever owning a property; thus proving the need for good-quality rental accommodation in a market that desperately needs catered for.

Statisticians have calculated 60,000 homes need to be built over the next five years in order to accommodate the predicted population numbers in Scotland. 

Despite the on-going housing crisis, only 20,255 new build homes went up last year (to December 2018). And that was actually a 15 per cent increase on the previous year. 

Provided enough are constructed, Build to Rent developments may just be the key to unlock such a crisis.