On Thursday morning, the LMRE Living team tuned in to the Movers & Shakers webinar: Aspirational & Affordable Living – How do we deliver more and better rented homes, with panellists Dan Batterton of Legal & General, Cllr Clare Coghill of London Borough of Walthamstow Forest, James Pargeter of Greystar, Nicola Mathers of Future of London and Tom Copley of GLA.
Coghill began the forum noting how important it is to have a range of options for people when it comes to housing. One challenge the Borough used to face was that they had a very high turnover of rental properties. People are now putting down roots there but there is still a high demand for rental properties – buying is not an option of everyone. Copley discussed how BTR creates additional housing and diversifies the market. Importantly, we are currently experiencing a period of market uncertainty which in turn means more people will turn to renting. Batterton agreed that BTR is a very important part of the market, but there has been a big misconception around BTR, he gave the example of how people used to ask if they could buy the apartments. He noted how “the concept of long term ownership for rent was so alien”.
The panellists discussed one particular focus at the moment – properties being affordable for key workers. Pargeter stated that everyone in living on one of the Greystar BTR schemes has access to the same front door and the same service, regardless of whether they are living in an affordable flat or a standard flat. He noted how residents have the option to change if their circumstances change, they can move to a bigger flat of a different type of tenure – “it is flexible to suit local needs”. He concluded that front line workers are ideally suited to this type of tenure. Coghill explained how affordable housing within BTR is really important, not only is there a demand for it in terms of the tenants, but it also creates jobs and opportunities for local people.
Coghill discussed how affordable housing in BTR schemes allows people who already live in the borough but can no longer afford their rental property to stay in the area and not have to leave their roots. Batterton discussed how the sector needs to make the case for affordable housing in BTR and get the information out to the public about who is living in the buildings. The occupants in the L&G schemes were found to have lived within 3 miles of the scheme before moving in, a powerful statistic.
Copley noted that although BTR has been growing for a number of years, it is still relatively new. Investors need to look at what they are doing for the community an what level of affordable housing they can get from the scheme. Pargeter discussed how generation rent have complaints about individual landlords and this is the culture they are trying to change with their BTR sites “building a genuine community”.