BTR sector

Major property players join forces to drive collaboration in BTR sector

Today (7th January), marks the launch of a national communications steering committee through The UK Apartment Association (UKAA) to promote the BTR sector’s growing importance in the UK housing market.

British Property Federation, Moda Living, Quintain, Greystar, L&G, Grainger, Get Living, PLATFORM_, urbanbubble, JLL, Homeviews, Love to Rent, SAY PC, The Oracle Group, RoomService by CORT, and Savills are among the founding members of the committee, which is yet to be named.

The group will extend to the other sub-groups within BTR, including architects, contractors, lawyers, regulators and other suppliers.

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

The committee will collate real-life case studies from residents in UK BTL accommodation to paint an accurate picture and remove the stigma still attached to homes for rent.

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

Lucy Sharp, head of PR at Moda Living and chair at the UKAA communications committee, said: "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.

“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."

With properties institutionally funded and owned, BTR assets are said to be typically much quicker to bring to market than homes for sale, and therefore 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.

Members will explore the term ‘build-to-rent', its connotations and consumer understanding of the phrase, with consideration given to how the sector can reposition 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.

Dave Butler, managing director at UKAA, commented: “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.”

Drew McNeill, head of communications at the British Property Federation, added: “The BTR sector was still very much in its infancy only a handful of years ago yet, in such little time, it has made significant progress.

“[In 2019], 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 at Quintain, stated that 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.”

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