One of the senior figures in the UK’s burgeoning Build To Rent sector has called on the Chancellor to help this fledgling part of the private rental landscape.
Dominic Martin - operations director at Atlas Residential, a US-based company which has a UK Build To Rent construction pipeline of over 600 units in Southampton and Birmingham - says today’s Budget could do more to promote the BTR sector.
“For example, BTR is referenced in the National Planning Policy Framework, but omitted from the National Planning Policy Guidance. Therefore local authority planning officers aren’t taking the sector into account in the way that they could and should be” he says.
He says there is also “a desperate need to regulate and professionalise the estate agency process, from leasing to management” and wants the government to avoid its recent call for evidence into improving this process “becoming mired in red tape.”
He also wants today’s announcements to include help to future proof funding for sufficient levels of housing, both for purchase and to rent.
“A government construction debt guarantee scheme would be one innovative way to stimulate growth in the sector, as happens in the US and helps underpin new ‘multi-family’ Build To Rent development” he says, adding that many lenders are currently still cautious when financing this asset class.
Martin also believes an early Christmas present for the sector would be the reduction or removal of VAT on operational cost items, including management fees, which would help improve what he cals “the marginality” of the sector.
“This would further help the sector to compete for land against the major housebuilders in urban locations and ultimately deliver more homes” he adds.