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People in the property sector will know the names of main BTR developers, but what about the average tenant? What are they able to say about who’s building their future homes and how are they going to achieve this?

Build-to-Rent is not yet a household term and people don’t know the best developers in the market. As the phrase becomes more popular, tenants will become more familiar with the names associated with BTR.

Here at LOFT we have analysed the key areas that are likely to become the first “Apple” or “Nike” in the BTR world.

Price transparency

All consumers want to know what they’re paying for. Emergent sectors, such as this one, have the luxury of keeping their cards close to their chest, for the everyday consumer the idea of something new always inspires curiosity.

But as the BTR market takes form, that same market will be more discerning. Tenants will appreciate being told how a rental offer breaks down. Higher costs will equal more acceptance from renters when security, quality design-led furniture, a concierge or on-site gym are put into the picture.

Reliable tech and internet

It’s frustrating when the toys we’re given don’t work as promised. If a BTR scheme includes things such as smart home devices and electronic door locks, it has to be ensured they function perfectly, from the first to last days of a tenancy.

Wi-fi is the prime example – a slow, unreliable connection isn’t good enough. It will weaken the consumer relationship, just like staying in a premium hotel and seeing the wallpaper peeling off. In many respects, luxury stands for consistency.

A focus on values over marketing

By that, we mean fixing a value in the mind of the tenant, merely from a glance at a billboard or an internet ad, rather than trying to entice tenants with big campaigns. However, it raises the question ‘What does a BTR project represent? How different is it?’ The big brands of the future will prioritise their service aims over huge, flashy ad campaigns, until one can lay ground for the other.

Ultimately, tenants love a space that looks good, feels comfortable, and takes care of their unique living requirements. BTR organisations may struggle on how to do this effectively; cost limits are very real with third-party investment. For design aspects like furniture, for example, there’s a balancing act to strike between affordability and stylish and ethically sourced furnishings.

Twenty Twenty Living by LOFT offer design led interior solutions for the Built-to-Rent market, offering residents a `life enhancing rental solution` by providing BTR developers with an efficient and cost-effective solution for high-end, large-scale interior fit-outs.  Twenty Twenty Living have a dedicated Interior Design team with specialist knowledge and an understanding of interior design within the BTR market. We work with you to achieve your vision by either working in partnership with your own architects and designers, or creating a concept for you.

The Western world may be the richest society in history, but it could also be the saddest. Generation Rent – 16 to 34-year-olds – is revealing much about the lack of housing in the UK, and what it’s doing to our sense of fulfilment.

With news that a third of millennials are likely to rent ‘from cradle to grave’, it is fair to ask what effect this is having on mental health, companionship, and British communal life. The Build to rent (BTR) sector should be doing all it can to plug these holes in wellbeing before they become even wider…

Does the problem really exist?

Statements this broad don’t offer much unless there is clear evidence behind them. Yet several studies are showing that the effect of renting for decades – with no end in sight – is making people feel isolated, trapped and nervous about making friends.

The Office for National Statistics came to such conclusions in a piece of research they published in April. Thousands of people in the Generation Rent bracket were surveyed alongside others. One in four claimed that they didn’t trust their neighbours, compared to a 45% average across the whole social spectrum. 55% of the 16-34s also said they didn’t feel attached to their neighbourhood, whilst 61% of them reported occasional loneliness – a 15% rise on other demographics.

Homeowners, by contrast, are almost half as susceptible to “feeling lonely often or always” than millennial renters. Further investigations have shown that loneliness is contagious too: if a young person knows someone who is going through a tough time, they are more prone to reflecting the same qualities in their own lives.

The UK is in danger of fostering a wave of adults who are sad, confused, disengaged, and unsure about what their community may look like. Yet BTR developers, as well as Build-to-Rent accommodation providers, can help solve the crisis by taking some ingenious steps forward.

Rebalancing the social scales

Today’s rental sites can take an active approach in communal design, offers and amenities in order to promote a greater sense of community. The goal is to give people an excuse to talk to each other, in a welcoming environment.

There are numerous ways to do so. Bright courtyards – with a garden, or architecture that anyone can sit and appreciate – will facilitate conversation. The same is true of weekly or monthly social events in an on-site area: perhaps a ‘meet and greet’ pizza night, or a pub quiz that gathers everyone into teams. Exercise centres can work out our social skills more than we may realise. And there is value in plush, excellently installed furniture for public hallways and common rooms – all the better for tenants who want to lounge, chat and strike up a friendship.

Globally, there is no sea change in sight for how we choose to live. Our tastes remain in a city, backed by all the modern conveniences we could ask for. But real, human connection is the biggest convenience of all, even when it comes from a handful of smart choices. Take Twenty Twenty Living’s furniture collections as a starting point for communal design, and work from there to combat the emotional fatigue of Generation Rent. We can advise on, source and install the furnishing you’re looking for.

Cities are the crèche of the future. We’ve been living in them for centuries, but they have never been more populated or pressurised than they are today. In 1950, 30% of global citizens lived in a city; that number may rise to 70% by 2050. We are now more familiar with urban surroundings than the scent of country air.

As demand for urban residence continues to grow, Build-To-Rent (BTR) has to acknowledge that people miss a sense of nature in their living environment. Being around trees, plants and flowers makes us happier. It reduces depression. We are more productive and less anxious when we have a foot in the natural world. There’s a word for this too – ‘biophilia’, an urge to connect with flora, sunlight and clean air.

Biophillic design has enormous potential to make residents feel good about who they are and where they live. It’s something that LOFT, and now Twenty Twenty Living is taking very seriously when planning furnishings for BTR. To attract and retain tenants, developers must explore naturalism in materials, aesthetics and spatial layouts. It’s key to protecting the wellbeing and happiness of urban residents.

But where to start?

Human-centred design

People like to balance their phones, Echos and Dolby speakers with a reminder of a world that is less artificial. BTR providers should bear this in mind when introducing tech into the home environment or considering innovation that risks overcomplicating interior spaces. Always consider: how does this benefit the resident?

Smart window placement is one example of such human-centred design; it can help sunlight reach a bedroom or social space at certain times of day, giving a boost to wellbeing.

Real plants – or even fake ones – can have the same effect. Meanwhile, man-made lights, sculptures and steel or plastic furnishing (i.e. whatever nature cannot produce itself) produce the opposite result, if we don’t balance them with more ‘authentic’ choices.

Sustainable materials

The modern tenant is incredibly eco-conscious. This shapes their lifestyle choices and, by extension, their views of BTR providers. To ensure residents move in with a positive philosophy from day one, it’s vital to be transparent about sustainability. Twenty Twenty Living forge trust by being upfront about how we select, assemble and dispose of our furniture.

Biophillic design, after all, isn’t a superficial concept. It starts at the beginning of the procurement process: sourcing sustainable resources for furnishings. That’s why we only partner with eco-friendly manufacturers of chairs, tables, lamps, shelves and dressers as part of our green agenda.

A pastoral element

Even subtle touches can have a big impact on the way people perceive their surroundings. This is where décor and furnishings really come into play; aesthetic choices can have a transformative influence on a room, improving productivity, concentration and happiness levels, while combating the effects of stress.

Certain décor, such as bohemian and scandi themes, can introduce a naturalist theme to interiors. These styles have enduring qualities that make them sensible design choices for BTR schemes. Natural fabrics and materials are just some of the ways in which staple furnishings can ground biophillic design. That’s the thinking behind Twenty Twenty Living’s Bohemian range.

Industry players should wake up to biophilia and the benefits of human-centred design before it’s too late. The whole focus of BTR is to create spaces where people will want to live, long-term. To achieve this, we must put their needs first. The better a developer can implement natural concepts, the faster they will conquer the BTR market and the longer they will thrive.