Build to rent (BTR) is the UK nomenclature for what is referred to in the US as Multi-Family Residential. As a definition it is intended to separate the new-build, large scale, often institutionally owned properties, rented to tenants on a long term basis from other parts of the rental market. BTR is a subset of the Private Rented Sector (PRS) but is different to Institutional PRS which exhibits many of the same qualities but is different.

A build to rent development typically has more than 20 separate and self contained units, where the landlord is the building operator, the property was new when it was first let and amenities, facilities and benefits are provided by the landlord.

Note that the building owner who would otherwise be the operator and landlord may choose to delegate or subordinate some of their duties to other third parties, without it affecting the status of the development as BTR.

BTR Buy to Let Short Term Let Institutional PRS
Number of Units

>20 >0 >0 >20
Units Are Separate and Self Contained

Yes Sometimes Sometimes Yes
Age of Property When First Let

New Any Any Any
Landlord is Building Operator

Yes Sometimes Sometimes Sometimes
Landlord’s Primary Business Is Renting Properties

Yes Yes Yes Yes
Amenities, Facilities & Benefits

Provided by Landlord Sometimes Provided by Landlord Sometimes Provided by Landlord Sometimes Provided by Landlord

Some examples:

A property investment company purchases 35 units in a new development, which have access to all of the same amenities as other tenants. This is not BTR as the company is not the operator of the building.

An individual property owner with a large buy to let portfolio becomes involved in the construction of 15 new flats and intends to retain them and rent them out. This is not BTR as the number of units is too small.

A property development company is unable to sell their developments and so instead rents them out creating an otherwise accidental ‘BTR’ product. This is not BTR as the primary business of the landlord is in property development.

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