For millennials struggling to get on the housing ladder, is this the shape of living in the future? Developers across the UK are building “co-living” blocks for rental only, promising fully-furnished apartments, a “professional” landlord, and round-the-clock concierges.
Many have spacious communal lounges, rooftop gardens and gyms. Angus Dodd, the chief executive of Quintain, which is behind a project in Wembley, north-west London, says: “It is a hotel-style service for long-term renters.”
Usually the rent includes utility bills and wifi, and many of the rental management companies have scrapped letting fees and deposits. In total, the number of new-build rental units completed or under construction is 50,000 across the UK.
For many, it will be the next logical step from a university hall of residence as they settle into their first job. For the companies behind it – such as pensions firm Legal & General – it promises safe and steady returns for their investors.
But there are drawbacks. The rents, while all inclusive, are often high, especially in London. Would you pay £1,200 to £1,400 a month for a studio flat in outer London? While living in these apartments, many millennials are likely to find it tough to save for a deposit on a house purchase while paying such high rents.
Many people will love the concept of co-living, but others might see it as a “kidult” community of young adults not properly growing up.
Simon Nosworthy, the head of residential property at Osbornes Law, is sceptical that co-living will necessarily foster a genuine community spirit. “It could be a soulless co-living space and may feel like living in a hostel or hotel rather than a home – a transient space where people are going to be passing in and out.”
So what’s on offer in the new world of corporate-built co-living spaces?
Wembley Park, London
The UK’s biggest build-to-rent development, with 5,000 rental homes managed by Tipi, is Wembley Park, beside Wembley stadium in north-west London. The newest building, Landsby, features Scandinavian-style interiors kitted out by Samsung and John Lewis.
The apartments are reasonably sized, from 39 sq metres for a studio and 52 sq metres for a one-bed flat to 90 sq metres for a three-bed. Monthly rents in the Landsby building start at £1,450 for a studio and £1,590 for a one-bedroom flat, and go up to £2,200 for a two-bed and £3,000 for a three-bed.
Slate Yard, Salford
Built by the insurance firm Legal & General, Slate Yard in Salford has 225 rental homes of good sizes, from 41.8 sq metres to 86 sq metres. Rents range from £895 a month for a one-bed to £1,800 for a three-bed.
The residents lounge offers free coffee and tenants are encouraged to paint their flats. Slate Yard along with L&G’s 10 other developments around the country offer six-month to five-year leases with annual CPI inflation-linked rental increases capped at 5%.
East Village and Elephant Central, London
East Village in Stratford, east London, is the former Olympic athletes’ quarters, which were turned into 2,800 homes. Rents range from £1,690 for a one-bed with an average size of 40.8 sq metres to £2,686 for a 92.4 sq metre three-bed. At Elephant Central, there are 374 flats across three buildings where rents start at £1,820 for a one-bed, £2,231 for a two-bed and £3,683 for a three-bed.
Skyline II, Manchester
Skyline II in Manchester boasts a 20m rooftop swimming pool, Jacuzzi and winter garden. The company behind it, the property asset manager Long Harbour, claims its 129 apartments offer the standard of a five-star hotel.
One-bed flats cost between £950 and £1,050 to rent, while two-beds are between £1,150 and £1,350.
Long Harbour’s other developments, The Lansdowne in Birmingham with 206 rental homes and The Wullcomb in Leicester with 297 flats, are due to open next year. Rents at the Lansdowne range from £855 for a one-bed flat to £1,200 for a two-bed. The Wullcomb will be cheaper at £700 for a one-bed to £1,000 for a two-bed.
Rajdeep Gahir, a former banker who used to work for the US shared workspace firm WeWork, has teamed up with the architect Dara Huang to set up Vivahouse. They have designed room modules whose panels fit in a lift and can be put together within hours in existing spaces, such as empty office buildings.
The rooms will measure just 8.5 sq metres to 12 sq metres, but Gahir says they have been cleverly designed to accommodate a flip double bed, desk and wardrobe and have been sound-proofed. Residents – typically 20- to-30-year-old graduates – will share bathrooms, kitchens and lounges in a 30-room Vivahouse.
Rooms can be rented from one night up to three months, for £900-plus a month. “This is for generation move,” says Gahir.