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US Build To Rent giant enters UK private rental sector

Atlas Residential - a US Build To Rent company which operates 18,000 rental units across 13 states valued at a total of £1.3 billion - is entering the UK private rental market.

Working alongside Rockspring Property Investment Managers it has purchased a 145,500 square foot site in prime central Southampton with the intention of building 211 private rental units which it will design, fund, build and then manage.

“Our view of property management is highly amenity- and customer service-centric and we look forward to delivering that philosophy to the UK renter, whom we believe will react very positively to it. We look forward to expanding our UK footprint with Rockspring and capitalising on this emerging, yet rapidly growing, asset class” says an Atlas spokesman.

The sheer size of Atlas and Rockspring give an indication of the scale of institutional investment now being attracted to the fast-emerging sector of the private rental market.

As of March this year Rockspring had gross assets of €7.9 billion in funds under management, with individual funds operating in the UK and 14 other European property markets. Atlas Residential is one of the largest owners and operators of build to let units in the US, where this sector is known as multi-family housing. 

Privately owned and headquartered in Chicago, with offices in Dallas and London, Atlas has been investing in and managing rental apartment homes for over 20 years and has completed units in 350 communities. “Our current portfolio, managed by 500 experienced professionals at both executive and property level, comprises more than 18,000 units across 13 states with an appraised value of approximately $1.3 billion” says a spokesman. 

Situated in a prime location in Southampton, the development site purchased by the companies is within walking distance of the main shopping leisure and marine areas of the city and will deliver 211 one and two bedroom high spec apartments. 

The contracted developer, Hampshire & Regional, will start on site this month and the £36m scheme will be delivered in phases, completing in late 2017. 

No one yet knows how Build To Rent will impact traditional letting agents in the UK. 

Some believe BTR’s institutional investors will sub-contract day to day management of blocks to traditional agents; some believe the investment companies may, as is common in the US, handle the management of the units themselves.

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