Changing lifestyles caused by the COVID-19 lockdown will create a flight to quality build-to-rent (BtR) schemes in the traditional spring moving season, according to residential property management specialist urbanbubble.

Michael Howard, founder and managing director of the firm with about 11,000 properties in England including some 7,000 in Manchester under management, forecasts that people working from city centre apartments under stay-at-home restrictions will use lease renewals in late spring and early summer to move to BtR properties that provide facilities allowing them to work, live and play at a higher quality level of comfort and enjoyment.

Such provisions include outdoor spaces such as balconies or roof gardens, fast and reliable broadband, dedicated home working space and access to communal social space where social distancing can be safely practised.

Michael said: “At urbanbubble we anticipate an abundance of opportunity for BtR developments and their owner-investors as businesses embrace the ‘new normal’ by allowing staff to continue agile working between home and office.”

He added: “We believe that people heeding Government advice to stay at home and maintain social distance will use the next wave of lease events such as renewals in May and June to seek a property to accommodate the ongoing need for a flexible and agile lifestyle.

“Thanks to there being an unprecedented number of completed high quality BtR developments in Manchester and elsewhere, anyone struggling to work at home with inadequate facilities, no or cramped common areas and poor management will appreciate that as in any crisis, there will be opportunity for providers of high quality living environments.” ”

Having already seen an increase in video viewings of BtR apartments this year and subsequent enquiries, a specialist engagement team at urbanbubble is in place to accommodate the anticipated rise in demand for BtR properties.

Conscious of the importance of also addressing the needs of existing residents, the firm has digitalised residential property management by working with Manchester-based mobile app development platform Padoq to create an interactive app tailored to the needs of people in individual BtR developments.

Designed to motivate and engage residents, the app creates a ‘cyber community’ by giving access to key lifestyle and work-related features such as a weekly events programme, with a positive message of: “Together, we have got this. We’re doing our utmost to make those long days and nights easier by creating virtual communities and hosting events.”

And to enhance its relationship with landlord investors, UrbInfo Manchester, the data division of urbanbubble, is providing a weekly COVID-19 property market tracker newsletter including real time data on market activity and trends during the pandemic.

This digitalising of residential property management benefits residents of BtR schemes such as The Slate Yard in Salford and West Tower at Deansgate Square, Manchester, managed by urbanbubble on behalf of institutional investor Legal & General, L & G’s other BtR developments in Leeds, London, Birmingham, Bristol, Bath and Chelmsford.


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