Investment in the UK Build to Rent sector hit another record high in 2021, according to research by global property consultancy Knight Frank, taking the full-year total to £4.3bn. The UK’s Build to Rent stock now stands at around 60,000 completed homes – with a further 170,000 either under construction, with planning granted, or in pre-planning.
This brings the total pipeline to a possible 230,000 Build to Rent homes due to be delivered in the coming years, bringing more choice, and increasing competition. But how can operators ensure they are attracting and retaining tenants?
Connectivity as a necessity
Given that 92% of tenants prefer digital communications, offering a single place to connect digitally to their building should no longer be seen as a luxury but a necessity. Tenants move into Build to Rent developments to have some of their life admin taken care of – whether that’s handling package deliveries, managing visitors, or maintenance issues, having an easy way to enable these services is key.
Tenants no longer have the time or patience to go into multiple apps or portals to manage their daily lives, therefore it’s vital that operators start to think about the overall tenant experience. For instance, Spike’s resident engagement portal, Spike Living, allows tenants to virtually manage every aspect of their lives from a single app.
Tenant Interaction and Community Engagement
When a tenant moves into a building, they may be unfamiliar with the surrounding area. Connecting them with local shops and services, or details that can bring convenience to their lives is a great way of ensuring they feel engaged from the offset. Many of Spike’s clients team up with local businesses to offer special discounts to their tenants on anything from cleaning services, dog walkers, to local restaurants. All of which can be promoted and driven through Spike Living.
Holding regular social events is also crucial in allowing friendships between neighbours to blossom. Research by Apartment Life found that the more friends a tenant has within their building, the more likely they are to renew their lease. Without any friends living in their community, tenants only have a 29% chance of renewing. That number jumps to 38% if they have 1-3 friends, and if they have 7 or more friends, there’s a 47% likelihood that they’ll renew.
On-site staff is likely already running regular social events for its tenants. With Spike Living, community managers can communicate and promote the details of the event, and drive all bookings via the portal, providing an easy way to understand how many tenants to expect, or what events are getting the most engagement.
Resident portals also allow tenants to interact with each other outside of social events, thanks to features like online clubs and forums – we’ve seen tenants start their own book clubs, and even arrange communal BBQs and beer tasting classes.
Streamlining property management
Feedback gained by HomeViews for their 2021 Build to Rent report found that tenants that had previous experience using resident portals instantly recognised how useful they would be in their new buildings. Tenants who did not have access to a portal also believed it would help issues be resolved quicker. Furthermore, there were also frustrations voiced about having to email reception to book onsite amenities, which makes accessing them a lot more laborious than it needs to be. Tenants want to do things when it suits them, without having to involve anyone else. A mobile portal enables tenants to complete important life admin, like paying rent, reporting a maintenance issue, booking the gym, or reading the latest fire safety policy – without having to rely on anyone else.
The benefits aren’t just in allowing tenants to have instant access to property managers, resident portals also provide property managers with an opportunity to be proactive, such as notifying tenants when a lift is out-of-service, promoting onsite events, or more importantly, sending out an urgent push notification informing tenants within minutes about an immediate danger, such as a fire in their block, so they can take the necessary action such as evacuating the building.
With 31% of tenants choosing not to renew their lease due to seeking better apartment management according to research by NMHC and Kingsley, this seems the logical place to start.
As competition in the BTR sector increases, technology will play an ever-important role. Developments that do not offer an easy way for tenants to manage their daily lives certainly run the risk of falling behind. Spike Living makes the operation and management of BTR properties easier and more efficient than ever, ultimately improving tenant satisfaction and reducing turnover.