The Corporatization of Rental Properties in the UK

Published: 17/05/2017 By Penny

Over the past decade, the UK has seen a significant shift in the housing market, specifically rental properties. The first factor affecting the PRS (private rental sector) is that the cost of rent has gone up considerably and in some areas, that cost has doubled, even tripled. Many renters are finding that they can no longer afford to live in a neighbourhood that they have lived in for years and this is causing them to move to less expensive neighbourhood's that are less desirable, further from their jobs and sometimes from their children’s schools. Now, this is an understandable occurrence in many of the UK’s newer housing developments, but we are seeing this in neighbourhood's that have been around for many years as well.
     A second factor impacting rental properties in the UK, and the one that many are more concerned about, is the shift in ownership from local to foreign investors. Many cities across the UK are seeing large foreign-held property management companies buying up the properties as investments and having no/little personal stake in the occupants themselves. Just a few decades ago right here in Putney, most of the rental properties were owned by local landlords and managed by local management companies. Now we are seeing the emergence of corporate landlords and management companies that are based outside of the UK.
     Does this lead to many tenants being treated indifferently and being pushed out of the neighbourhood's they have lived and raised their families in for decades? The short answer is “not always” in my opinion. My personal experience with foreign investors is that they do actually care about the happiness of their tenants as they know unhappy tenants do not usually take care of the property and are more likely to have rent arrears. With that in mind, it would make no financial sense to treat tenants like commodities as it will cost them much more in the end.
    As well, I have noticed that foreign companies get local agents to actually manage the properties for them and therefore keep that level of customer service up, especially ourselves, which take great pride and understand the needs of both landlords and tenants. So as there are many foreign corporate landlords across the UK that are not interested in anything other than profit margin, its these that can impact on rent rises and essentially pricing people out of their neighbourhood's. Fortunately though I wouldn’t say this is the norm and it certainly is not my experience in Putney and its surrounding.
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