Facilitating Build-to-Rent and affordable housing

While there are an increasing number of Build-to-Rent (BTR) projects emerging across Australia, and growing private sector interest in BTR projects, there is still some uncertainty about whether the foundations are right in Greater Melbourne for a significant emergence of BTR projects. It is also still uncertain whether BTR developments has the scope to offer affordable housing. 

Why BTR is attractive, as well as the challenges to the take up of BTR across Melbourne, were among the topics discussed at a Committee for Melbourne event on 21 November, kindly hosted by Foundation Member, Herbert Smith Freehills.  

The Build-to-Rent (BTR) leading thinker forum featured keynote speaker Kris Daff (Managing Director, Assemble) who was joined by panellists Louise Burke (Senior Research Analyst, JLL) and Matthew Reszka (Director and Founder, Reshape Development).  

Kris Daff gave an insightful keynote presentation about Assemble’s BTR projects targeting the ‘missing middle’, which is seeking more security and certainty in rental properties. Assemble’s research has identified that traditionally, renters feel anxiety because they are unable to obtain long-term leases or put down roots in a community. BTR can provide a sense of stability in long term leases, as well as amenities that encourage community living.  

With the right private investors and development model, Assemble can to offer affordable rental product, which is also beneficial to the community. 

Following Kris’ presentation, the panel discussed how affordable housing projects can offer amenities that create communal living and better living standards.  

While the three organisations employ different BTR development models, all agreed that it takes work to find the right institutional investor to understand the BTR market and the risks and returns that flow from the BTR model. There were also opportunities for developers to think outside the box about BTR opportunities such as through shopping centre redevelopment projects or obtaining superannuation fund investment. 

The panellists also agreed that governments could play a greater role in facilitating BTR in Greater Melbourne. Policies such as financial and taxation incentives or examination of value-capture opportunities, especially around the Suburban Rail Loop, were some examples. Facilitation of affordable housing in BTR developments, through policies such as inclusionary zoning, should also be considered by governments. 

The BTR forum continues the Committee for Melbourne’s advocacy on BTR and affordable housing issues.   Committee Director Jane Hodder of Herbert Smith Freehills represented the Committee on the Victorian Government’s Build to Rent (BTR) Working Group which is developing a draft report to the Treasurer and Planning Minister on BTR. The Committee made a submission to the review.   

The Committee would like to thank Jane Hodder of Herbert Smith Freehills for hosting what was a very successful event. HSF recently received a 22-year membership award for their contribution and support of the Committee, and the Committee appreciates their long-term support and commitment to furthering Greater Melbourne’s future.  

For more information about BTR please contact Leanne Edwards or David Prior.