One of UK’s leading developers of homes for private rent is calling on the government to exempt the build-to-rent sector from new rules on minimum space requirements.
Under new measures designed to target ‘rogue’ landlords, the government is proposing a mandatory standard of 70 sq ft for rooms and a wider licensing of rental properties, which it says will stop the exploitation of tenants.
At the moment, the suggested regulations are only targeted at houses in multiple occupation (HMOs) in the buy-to-let market, but Dominic Martin, head of operations and strategy at Westrock, the investor and developer behind regional rental brand PLATFORM_, said it was important for the government to recognise the different offerings between buy-to-let and build-to-rent.
PLATFORM_ focuses on key regional commuter towns and employment hubs and aims to deliver professionally managed, high quality buy-to-let flats in central locations.
Dominic Martin, head of operations and strategy at Westrock, said: “It’s important when considering space requirements the government recognises the difference between traditional buy-to-let market and the new amenity and service led build to rent sector. This one size all approach just doesn’t work and doesn’t reflect this new and better offer to renters.
“Our initial schemes have been office-to-residential conversions, and while the unit sizes are smaller than a conventional new build, this means we have been able to deliver more much needed homes for private rent. As a counter however, this is compensated by the provision of quality amenity space and a greater investment in smart technology like underfloor heating, as well as onsite staff offering a new customer focused service.”
But there are question marks over the government’s plan to introduce minimum space requirements for rooms in the private rented sector even when it comes to HMOs, with property consultancies like Daniel Watney LLP insisting that it “will ultimately harm renters”.
Julian Goddard, head of residential at Daniel Watney LLP, cautioned that the suggested regulations would adversely impact on renters willing to compromise on space in order to save money, and also did not reflect recent technological changes.
He said: “While well intentioned, these minimum space requirements for the rental market will do little to help people looking for cheaper options to live, especially in ultra-competitive locations like London.
“They also fail to recognise the huge shifts in technology that mean we are increasingly asset lite.
“From streaming music on Spotify to watching films on Netflix, people - especially the younger generations who see more likely to rent - are owning less and less physical copies and relying more and more on digital services, reducing the need for storage space. Housing policy should be made for the future, not the past.”
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