Major competitors join forces to promote BTR in the UK

Leading players in the property industry have joined forces to drive collaboration across the UK’s growing build-to-tent (BTR) sector, which is forecast to be worth over GBP550 billion by 2030, with the launch of a national communications steering committee through the UKAA (The UK Apartment Association), supported by the British Property Federation.  

Through sharing experience and having a cohesive voice, the committee will help to enhance how BTR is positioned with investors, policymakers, and residents, as well as offering a voice to smaller businesses in the sector who are driving positive change.  

 
While every company within BTR has its own meaningful narrative and identity, there is a common goal uniting each, and the belief that the sector will benefit significantly in the long term through collaboration.  

The committee's founding members include Moda Living, Quintain, Greystar, L&G, Grainger, Get Living, and other leading developer/operators, as well as investors, agents, and portals. The group will extend to the other sub-groups within BTR including architects, contractors, lawyers, regulators, and other suppliers.  

Historically BTR housing has been perceived as a high-end product. The sector has evolved with major players now offering a complete range of housing options across geographies, price points and specifications, but with an ingrained focus on quality and value for money. 

With properties institutionally funded and owned, BTR assets are typically much quicker to bring to market than homes for sale, thus the sector is well placed to help address the housing supply crisis through expedited delivery of high-quality homes in the areas that need it most. The UK’s BTR homes and communities offer flexible (often fee-less) tenancies and professional management.  

The committee will collate real-life case studies from residents in UK BTR accommodation to paint an accurate picture and remove the stigma still attached to homes for rent, by showing that renting in 2021 is frequently a lifestyle choice, not a necessity versus homeownership.  

A centralised knowledge bank will also be created; accessible for the national broadsheets and trade press that will help educate a wider audience on the important role BTR is playing in the UK housing market.   

Examples include how the sector is helping to address the national housing crisis through the supply of high quality, professionally managed homes as well as the UK-wide regeneration of city centres, the creation of resident wellbeing initiatives, and the adoption of meaningful ESG targets. The sector is also committed to attracting and growing a diverse and inclusive talent base, and in doing so, supporting long-term growth and success.  

Importantly, members will also explore the term ‘build-to-rent', its connotations and consumer understanding of the phrase, with consideration given to how the sector can re-position its brand and communications strategy so that it better resonates with the public. 

The committee hopes to normalise sector-wide data sharing and insights including annual funding announcements, investment into regeneration, social impact scoring (such as job creation and housing supply), as well as best practices when it comes to sustainability and promoting a green agenda including moving towards a zero-carbon future.   

Lucy Sharp, Head of PR, Moda Living & Chair of the UKAA Communications Committee, says: "Despite the game-changing initiatives we are executing as individual businesses within BTR, effecting positive change is almost impossible without industry-wide collaboration. It is important for us to be aware of what others are doing, applaud efforts, acknowledge successes, and encourage innovation, because the success of one becomes the success of many. It has been inspiring to see the willingness and motivation from my peers to join forces in giving BTR the representation it clearly deserves. In a sector predicted to reach £550bn over the next decade, there is room for everyone. The ethos of this committee is the understanding that if everyone is moving forward together, the sector's success will in time take care of itself."  

Dave Butler, Managing Director, UKAA says: “This initiative is a clear demonstration of how the BTR sector is maturing and working together for the benefit of our customers and our members. It is undoubtedly one of the most important initiatives for the UKAA and the Sector in 2021, with the potential to be a game-changer in public and media understanding about what we offer. We are strengthened as an association and an industry when our members come together like this.”  

Drew McNeill, Head of Communications, British Property Federation, says: “The build-to-rent sector was still very much in its infancy only a handful of years ago, yet in such little time, it has made significant progress. Last year we managed to secure its formal recognition in the Government’s revised National Planning Policy Framework and the sector continues to maintain momentum behind its strong growth across the country. There is, however, so much still to do to build upon the sector’s successes to date, to further improve understanding of its value to customers, communities, local job markets, and city leaders’ housing ambitions. I look forward to working with the UKAA PR steering group to drive collaboration across the sector to achieve this.”  

Harriet Pask, Head of Corporate Communications, Quintain, adds: “BTR is coming of age in the UK. A far less mature market than others but, together with the UKAA, we have collected voices and expertise from across the industry; representing firms that design, build and successfully manage large and growing portfolios and specifically to this group, manage the reputations of those firms and represent the BTR industry as a whole.”