Private Rented Sector: Looking Back and Moving Forward

Rajiv Mehta, Asset Manager – Business Development, Young Group

Rajiv Mehta, Asset Manager – Business Development, Young Group

As 2014 is drawing to a close this PRSupdate article will focus on what has been happening over the past 12 months in housing and the Private Rented Sector, as well as a brief look ahead to 2015.

House Building

While the lack of housing stock is a current hot topic it has been encouraging to see statistics, released by the Government, which shows that house building has steadily been on the rise since the financial collapse of 2008.

The number of private dwelling construction starts for 2014 is set to exceed the 2013 levels by at nearly 25,000 units (106,750 in 2014 compared to 81,980 in 2013).

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Customer Service 2014: A Year End Review

Samantha Richardson,General Manager - Resident Services, Young London

Samantha Richardson, General Manager – Resident Services, Young London

In November 2013 the International Property Awards crowned Young London as the Best Lettings Agency UK 2013/14. This accolade instilled a lot of pride in the team – who work hard all year round – but it also meant that we entered 2014 with a challenge; to deliver a level of service that lived up to this honour.

To help us measure our success Young London continued to take the unique approach of encouraging our residents and landlords to provide detailed feedback on how the team is performing. This is undertaken at key points during the relationship (check-in, renewal and check-out) where they are contacted by the independent customer service specialists, RealService, and asked to rate our performance in key areas.

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UPDATE: Attempt to Ban Letting Agent Fees Defeated

The House of Lords voted against Labour's call to ban letting agent fees

The House of Lords voted against Labour’s call to ban letting agent fees

Labour has been unsuccessful in its attempt to ban letting agent fees.

As we reported yesterday, Labour had pushed to have the Consumer Rights Bill amended to make it illegal for an agent to levy fees against a prospective tenant.

The amendment was defeated by 45 votes.

This was not the first attempt by Labour to use the Consumer Rights Bill to ban letting agent fees. The Shadow Housing Minister, Emma Reynolds, has stated that it is their intent to push through the ban on fees (among other things) should Labour be voted into power in 2015.

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House of Lords to Discuss Consumer Rights Bill Amendments

House of Lords set to debate Consumer Rights Bill amendments

House of Lords set to debate Consumer Rights Bill amendments

The House of Lords will be in session today and on the agenda will be a discussion of various amendments to the Consumer Rights Bill, some of which could massively affect how letting agents operate.

Letting Agent fees and Client Money Protection (CMP) requirements are at the forefront of the discussions. The Labour party will be pressing for the Bill to include an amendment that would make it illegal for agents to charge any fees to tenants (like it is in Scotland).

The Government seems to be against such changes and believes that the Bill’s requirement for agents to display all their fees (those charged to both landlords and tenants) to be enough.

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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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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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In Conversation With… Marnix Elsenaar

Marnix Elsenaar, Partner and Head of Planning at Addleshaw Goddard

Marnix Elsenaar, Partner and Head of Planning at Addleshaw Goddard

We are regularly in conversation with a plethora of leading figures in the property, investment, finance and charity sectors, many of whom are guest authors for PRSupdate. The purpose of this feature is to get them to discuss the topics and issues that are currently affecting the Private Rented Sector.

If you would like to take part in an In Conversation piece then please do get in touch with us.

Today we are in conversation with Marnix Elsenaar, Partner and Head of Planning at Addleshaw Goddard.

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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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Young London Receives London Rental Standard Accreditation

London Rental Standard

London Rental Standard

Young London are pleased to announce that we have received London Rental Standard accreditation.

As an accredited letting and managing agent our applicants, residents and clients can enjoy peace of mind knowing that they’re dealing with an agency that fully complies with the law and offers a good service.

The London Rental Standard, a voluntary set of minimum standards, was created by the Mayor of London (Boris Johnson) to set out the level of service that those operating in London’s Private Rented Sector are expected to adhere to.

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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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