September 9, 2020

In many parts of Europe, renting a home in the long term is very much the norm, but in Britain, we are often taught from an early age that buying a home is the ultimate life goal. However, times and opinions are changing. Here, we examine attitudes towards renting as a lifestyle choice and ask, what does the modern-day renter look like?

In the city of Berlin, it is estimated that around 72% of the population rent [1]. However, increasingly more people in the UK are choosing to rent as an alternative to buying a property and it is predicted that in 2025, 60% of Londoners will be renting [2]. For countries like Germany, France and Austria, renting a property is just part of everyday living for the majority. With this in mind, we examine how Sigma Capital have made renting an attractive prospect in the UK with its portfolio of high-quality new build homes.

Rob Sumner, Residential Investment Director at Sigma Capital, said: “There can be a lot of grey areas when it comes to renting and so many people have vastly different experiences, so we are attempting to dispel the myths and in doing so, make the rental experience more appealing and enjoyable.

“We also have the element of standardisation when it comes to our properties and we’re completely transparent at every stage of the rental process, which helps to create better landlord and resident relationships and keeps our customers happy.

“We pride ourselves on ensuring that everyone within our brand experiences the same high-quality service wherever they are in the country through our dedicated Simple Life team. Managing expectations from the offset is important so all our residents know everything there is to know about Simple Life before choosing us as a landlord. In taking these simple steps, we believe we are constantly improving the standard of renting, which will ultimately challenge what is expected from other landlords out there and we hope, offer a more aspirational rental lifestyle.”

This year, Sigma Capital Group produced a pioneering piece of industry research, ‘The Rental Experience: Setting the Standard’, which set out to find out more about the modern UK renter. Victoria Hurcomb, head of marketing at Sigma, said: “We really wanted to examine the rental market and delve deep into who renters are, what their thoughts and attitudes are toward renting and ultimately what they want to see from a landlord.”

Historically, society is very focused on incentivising buying a home. For example, there are government schemes like Help To Buy and TV shows that cast a shadow over renting, focusing on rogue landlords, but you seldom hear about the positive stories of renting. Recent findings in our market research report showed that that almost half of renters in the UK (46%) are quite happy renting, while 24% are very happy, 22% are not very unhappy and 9% are not at all happy. These findings may suggest that societal factors and pressures can be what drives the desire to buy a property. The report also found that many older renters thought that they were in the minority, when in fact, those aged 35-44 make up the largest group of renters at 25%, with the average age of a renter being 45. It became quite apparent that many people, particularly 35+ who rent a house, would prefer to keep this detail secret from friends and neighbours, not because they are not happy renting, but because they are too concerned with what society thinks. In doing so, it unfortunately feeds some of the common myths around rental happiness, the perception of landlords and also the assumed age of today’s renter.

Victoria continued: “We actually found that the appetite for long term tenancies was high, with 54% having been renting for six years or more, with the average private renter having been renting for seven years.”

The report also revealed the many perceived benefits of renting, such as the freedom, flexibility, a greater choice of living environment or simply allowing renters to live in a better area or larger property than would not be achievable if they were looking to buy.

Victoria continued: “We have worked very hard over the years to create homes and communities where families can see themselves for many years. We have a real affinity with our residents, and they are increasingly engaged with everything we stand for. For example, during lockdown we’ve seen a surge in our tenants creating Instagram accounts showing how they are dressing their homes, illustrating that although they are renting, they very much see the properties as their own long-term homes.”

September 2020 marks four years since Sigma launched its first Simple Life PRS homes in Liverpool, and it has since grown vastly to over 2,200 homes across the country, and the Sigma platform has a further c.2,900 underway.

[1]https://www.nytimes.com/2020/01/31/world/europe/berlin-gentrification-rent.html#:~:text=In%20Berlin%2C%20a%20city%20of,the%20apartment’s%20condition%20and%20amenities.

[2]https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-02-25/in-london-renters-now-outnumber-homeowners