26 April 2018 | Harriet Garner
Renting is on the rise. Right now, there are in excess of 10 million renters in Britain and it is estimated that by 2021, 25% of the UK population will be renters – that’s just over 16 million people. Clearly, there is ample opportunity for rapid growth in the rented accommodation sector. In order to fully take advantage of this growing customer-base, providers need to recognise the importance of the demands of the 21st century renter.
So, what’s the solution?
Consistent engagement with renters is a simple and effective way of better understanding the concerns, wants and needs of your customers. By responding to these demands, accommodation providers are able to uncover valuable renter insight that can be used to the advantage of their services.
A view from a modern-day renter
Alex Spencer is a 28-year-old young professional from Northampton who recently moved to London and rents from HIP Homes. Somewhat surprisingly, before making the move, Alex wasn’t overwhelmed with excitement about starting a new life in the big smoke.
“Affordability really is something I thought long and hard about before moving to London, so much so, I did a cost analysis of how much I could save if I were to commute in from outside of London. What clinched my decision was avoiding the 2-hour commute each way, given that only a small saving could be made, I thought it was worth the money!”
Renter affordability has long been on the radar of HIP Homes, Alex’s accommodation provider. As Paul Williams and Karen Hewett-Williams, co-founders and Managing Directors of HIP Homes explain, “The rising cost of living has, is and will continue to be a real concern for renters. We recognised this concern early on and wanted to be in a position to help our renters combat it.”
“By focussing on positive renter engagement, we feel like we are delivering a quality service that they will tell their friends about which is mutually beneficially for all. We enlisted the help of Vaboo and developed our very own HIP Homes perks and engagement platform that gives our renters access to money-saving discounts to help them out on the things they care about the most.”
Even after 9 months getting used to the hum-drum (and expense) of London life, Alex is still financially cautious,
“I do feel like it’s an uphill struggle when it comes to deciding where my money is best spent and take great issue at having to pay more than a fiver for a pint!”
It’s not all doom and gloom though, “Through the HIP Homes platform, me and my housemates have been able to make decent savings on social activities. We’re always using the cinema discounts. What’s great is that we’re saving money just by renting with them!”
The changing renting landscape
There is a transition taking place within the UK rented accommodation sector. With the emergence of disruptive providers like Build to Rent and the impending reduction of tenancy fees, those accommodation providers who do not begin to recognise the importance of renter-centricity will find themselves losing market share and falling behind the pack.
“Providers who are not responding to their renter’s demands are putting themselves at a disadvantage,” explains Jonathan Stein, founder and CEO of Vaboo, “there is vast potential out there and in order to tap into it, accommodation providers need to be thinking seriously about engagement with their renters and how they can add value to their existing services.”
“The Renter Sentiment Index is a research report we recently released, which found that 87% of UK renters are concerned by the rising cost of living. What was particularly insightful, was that where renters were most interested in saving money was on the bare essentials like groceries, household bills and transport.”
“Realistically, there is not going to a be a reduction in renting cost, but what providers can do is drive positive engagement with their renters by helping them save money in all other areas of their lives.”
“In doing so, providers will see greater renter retention and an increasing customer-base with a service that fully acknowledges the demands of the 21st century renter.”