Investment Analysis And Performance Reporting

Dominic Martin, Former Member of the Department For Communities & Local Government's Private Rental Sector (Residential) Taskforce

Dominic Martin, Former Member of the Department For Communities & Local Government’s Private Rental Sector (Residential) Taskforce

Introduction

New Investment Market & Data:
The UK is witnessing the emergence of a specifically designed and managed ‘institutional grade’ residential asset class, loosely referred to as the new Private Rented Sector (PRS), or as Build-to-Rent. However, for any investor, be this institutional, private equity, sovereign wealth funds or housing associations, there is a need to underpin entry into this sector with good quality data and analysis.

Therefore, this article looks to acknowledge some of the existing sources of data and provide commentary around these. Secondly, it highlights areas where improvement can be gained.

Investment Asset Performance:
In the medium to long-term, the aspiration from an investment performance perspective is that this market resembles the US ‘multi-family housing’ market (MFH), where detailed accounts of the performance of the investments are standard in any investment particulars. Investors need certainty around the investment performance of this asset class. This will comprise both the annual net returns (i.e. income less annual maintenance and management costs) and total long term returns (driven by either yield compression and/or House Price Inflation).

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Engaging A New (And Unique) Community

Jatin Patel, Community and Stakeholder Relations Manager, Get Living London

Jatin Patel, Community and Stakeholder Relations Manager, Get Living London

Often, the emphasis placed on producing best practice guides for active stakeholders within the Private Rented Sector (PRS) concentrates on the management side of things; albeit finance, investment or physical assets.

But as the sector grows and becomes more institutional and diverse, eyes should turn towards the way in which large-dwelling private landlords engage with their residents to ensure positive community development.

On the face of things, as long as residents are adhering to the Terms & Conditions stipulated within their contracts, an arm’s length approach should suffice – in theory.

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Private Rented Sector Place Branding

Tim Lewis, Director of Strategy, Small Back Room

Tim Lewis, Director of Strategy, Small Back Room

Whether you like it or not, it seems the Private Rented Sector (PRS) has been slower than most in recognising the capability of a ‘brand’ in influencing customers’ decision making process. The sector needs to shift its thinking about how a strong brand proposition is increasingly important in the PRS.

The role of brands and branding in property marketing has always been an interesting debate. The agents have one opinion, the developer another and often the marketing department yet another. The answer is never clear cut. There is however, one common agreement – if you get it right, a good brand will add value.

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Operating Institutional Private Rented Sector Assets

David Mackenzie, Director of Asset Management, Young London

David Mackenzie, Director of Asset Management, Young London

With any businesses’ strategic planning, it’s vital to understand what success looks like at the outset. The Private Rented Sector is no different.

When investors are scoping Private Rented Sector investments, the operational aspect is just as important as the investment strategy. How will the assets be managed, the rents set, residents sourced, the homes maintained, refreshed and further down the line, refurbished?

Asking – and answering – these questions at the outset informs the operational strategy, goes some way to informing the costs involved and can provide investors with Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) with which to sense check progress.

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Delivering The Largest Private Rented Sector Scheme

Alan Bates, Executive General Manager Lend Lease Construction

Alan Bates, Executive General Manager at  Lend Lease Construction

Since 2007 Lend Lease has been working on the development, design and delivery of the largest residential project in the UK.

The delivery of East Village for phased occupation from November 2013 builds on the success of delivering the best ever Athletes’ Village, that was occupied by up to 17,000 athletes during the London Olympic and Paralympic Games.

After having completed all pre-Games works in time for LOCOG to apply the finishing touches we returned to the site, after the excitement of the Games, in November 2012.

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Attracting Large-Scale Private Rented Sector Investment

Bill Hughes, President of the British Property Federation

Bill Hughes, President of the British Property Federation

The UK’s housing crisis should not be understated. Not only does it represent one of the biggest potential drivers of inequality in the UK, but failure to address it could sabotage the UK’s economic recovery.

Increasing housing supply tops the priority list of all the major political parties, with the challenge – as set out recently by Labour – is to build 200,000 homes a year, across all tenures, by 2020. In any event, an overall shortfall will persist for another 10 years or more.

The Private Rented Sector (PRS) is clearly an important part of the supply side solution, both in terms of additional housing stock and affordability. The lack of mortgage lending at higher loan-to-value (LTV) levels is reducing the accessibility to ‘buy to occupy’ at a time when the growing population is continuing to put pressure on the chronically undersupplied housing market.

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A Smarter Design For A Smarter Home

Todd Lundgren, Regional Practice Group Leader, RTKL

Todd Lundgren, Regional Practice Group Leader, RTKL

Over the last decade, the proportion of households in the Private Rented Sector (PRS) has risen from 10% to over 17%. By 2016 it’s expected that one in five households will be renting privately.

The average age of tenants has also increased, with the fastest growing group of private tenants now between 35 and 44 years old. Of these households, between 25% and 33% are families with children who, broadly speaking, are looking for secure accommodation over a long period of time to lay down roots in the local community.

There is also a growing community of young people – postgraduates from university – who have grown accustomed to the quality of accommodation and service from the purpose built student housing market, and who find the current offer in rented accommodation sorely lacking.

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Designing For The Private Rented Sector

Artur Carulla, Director, Allies and Morrison Architects

Artur Carulla, Director, Allies and Morrison Architects

In recent years, our designs have responded to the increasing housing demand, rising land values, new policies and regulations, changing market preconceptions and influences from overseas. Many of these changes are, to some extent, either the cause or the consequence of an increase in housing development densities and the consequent shift of home building from houses to flats.

While this trend developed long ago, it was only four years ago that the Mayor of London’s Housing Design Guide (LHDG) was first published. This document offered the first spatial criteria for residential developments since the abolition of the Parker Morris standards in 1981.

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Can The Planning System Help Or Hinder The Creation Of A Large Scale Private Rented Sector?

Karen Cooksley, Partner - Head of Planning, Winckworth Sherwood

Karen Cooksley, Partner – Head of Planning, Winckworth Sherwood

Residential developers who build for sale have, for many years, voiced consistent concerns about the length of time it often takes to navigate the planning system and achieve the consent required to build much needed homes. Inefficiencies in the processing and determination of applications can result from a lack of resources or experience at officer level.

There is frequently a lack of political will or leadership to help communities understand the need for more homes to be built in their locality and the wider social and economic benefits which will result. Each local authority has different policies and there is a frequent tendency to apply planning law and national policy in a different way.

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Land Acquisition In The Private Rented Sector

Darryl Flay, Chief Executive Officer, Essential Living

Darryl Flay, Chief Executive Officer, Essential Living

Rising house prices, demographic change and the tight mortgage market have led to a doubling in the number of renters in the UK over the last decade.

While no one doubts the UK’s penchant for ownership is about to change any time soon, there’s a huge opportunity in unlocking the kind of institution-backed sector that supports housing in the US. Replacing the reputation for poor standards underpinning the buy-to-let sector could, however, redefine the way the public approaches renting, while creating an exciting new asset class for institutional and, eventually, retail investors.

A growing number of large investors have been posturing on the sidelines for years and, over recent months, the talk has turned to action with major schemes in development across London and Manchester.

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Funding Private Rented Sector Housing

Andrew Screen, Managing Director, GVA Financial Consulting

Andrew Screen, CEO, GVA Financial Consulting

The emergence of a significant Private Rented Sector (PRS) development and funding market has been driven initially by the public sector through various initiatives, including the formation of the Government PRS Taskforce and followed closely by investors.

These early investors included M3 Capital Partners, M&G, Apollo, Grainger, AGP, Qatari Diar, Akelius, Oaktree and Sigma, with many following suit in the last 12 months. On a monthly basis new investors are entering this market with c£500m to invest, all seeking PRS developers and suitable investment opportunities in the UK’s top 35 cities.

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Campaigning to Improve Electrical Safety in the Private Rented Sector

Phil Buckle, Director General of Electrical Safety First

Phil Buckle, Director General of Electrical Safety First

With an estimated 9 million people living in private rented accommodation, the Private Rented Sector (PRS) is a major and expanding element in England’s housing market. But such rapid growth brings its own problems, with safety a key concern and electrical safety a particular priority.

Around half of all domestic fires in Great Britain arise from electricity, killing one person each week, and well over a quarter of a million (350,000) are seriously injured by electricity each year.

In the PRS, if a landlord fails to ensure electrical safety in their rented properties then they can face significant financial risks from fires and invalidated insurance claims. Yet the regulations surrounding electrical safety are piecemeal and ambiguous – and poor electrics are often ‘invisible’, lying undiscovered until a serious accident occurs.

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Caution Needed in the Rent Setting Debate

Ian Fletcher, Director of Policy at the British Property Federation

Ian Fletcher, Director of Policy at the British Property Federation

In May the British Property Federation (BPF), like many other organisations, heard alarm bells ring when Ed Miliband, realising the voting potential of ‘Generation Rent’, set out a range of rental reforms that included the possibility of what looked like ‘rent controls’.

Recognising the pressing need for more rental accommodation and the disquiet of many of those forced to rent, Miliband proposed that a Labour government would introduce three-year tenancies, ban letting agent fees, and put a ceiling on rent increases.

The latter part of the proposals caused particular unease amongst the property sector, which feared that a ceiling on rents posed a very serious threat to the health of the UK’s emerging Build to Rent sector.

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Changes to Capital Gains Tax Target Non-Resident Sellers

Peter Sarney, Director, Felton Pumphrey

Peter Sarney, Director, Felton Pumphrey

The imposition of Capital Gains Tax (CGT) on the disposal of UK residential property for non-residents came as a surprise to many people as the UK government seeks to level the playing field between those who are tax residents in the UK and those who are not.

Unlike many other countries, that tax gains on the disposal of residential property situated in their jurisdiction, the UK has not generally charged CGT on gains made by non-residents. The result of this is that a gain would either be fully taxable in the country of residence or escape taxation entirely.

The UK government considers this to be unfair and has proposed legislation to tax the gains on residential property of those who are non-resident in the same way as gains made by those who are resident.

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Spring/Summer 2014: Private Rented Sector Operations – Why Function When You Can Really Fly?

Neil Young

Neil Young, CEO Young Group & Young London

With its focus on operational aspects of the Private Rented Sector (PRS), the latest edition of our Biannual PRSupdate publication has gathered together a selection of articles that gives a flavour of the elements required in managing PRS assets on a day-to-day basis.

Undoubtedly clearly defined processes, supported by robust procedures are at the heart of successful PRS operations, as Kris Wadia explains. Kris was, until recently, a Managing Director with Accenture, a global consulting organisation.

He is now CEO of Humanized Leadership, which advises businesses on profit improvement. However, it is how those processes are brought to life within the business and delivered (both internally and externally), and the tools that are employed that have the potential to differentiate between a business that functions and a business that flies.

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