Why the future could be renting for more of us as a Yorkshire business brings large rental developments to the suburbs

What became a build to rent boom and the birth of what is now known as the PRS, Private Rented Sector, began picking up speed in the mid noughties, predominantly in London, where buying a home is out of reach for many.

Institutional investors, including pension funds, saw first class, amenity rich rental apartments blocks in popular cities as a safe, long-term haven for their money and their instincts were right. The concept is seductive.

That’s because the apartment blocks are focussed on creating communities and not just because it makes for a better place to be but because it is good for business.

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Tenants will pay more, stay longer and rate a place highly if they are happy there and have good amenities. The higher end PRS schemes also offer security of tenure, often with tenancies of up to three years, which can be renewed.

A computer generated image of what Casa, Abbey Court in Kirkstall will look likeA computer generated image of what Casa, Abbey Court in Kirkstall will look like
A computer generated image of what Casa, Abbey Court in Kirkstall will look like

Facilities usually include a hotel-style front desk, tight security, a gym, a communal lounge and work spaces.

Few thought the fancy rental flats would make their way up North, where house prices are lower, but they have and Yorkshire based MODA Group helped lead the way with the ground-beaking Angel Gardens in Manchester city centre, which boasts a host of communal facilities, including a roof-top sports pitch, and more recently with its New York Square scheme in central Leeds.

Now Moda is taking reservations for its latest venture, which will see it push into the suburbs with its Casa by Moda concept with homes to rent that will challenge and professionalise a market dominated by buy-to-let landlords.

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The first development is in Glasgow and the second, Casa, Abbey Court, is now underway in Kirkstall and when completed by home builders Artisan it will include 223 homes for rent including one, two- and three-bedroom apartments and two, three- and four-bedroom townhouses.

Rents have yet to be determined but look set to be from around £1,200 per month for a two to three bedroom home.

The properties are pet-friendly, deposit free and have tenancies of up to three years and come with air source heat pumps and smart home sensors, which allow residents to control and monitor room temperature, air quality and light pollution.

A MyCasa app gives tenants access to 24/7 customer service, where tenants can report maintenance issues and book local services, including everything from dog walkers and gardeners to window cleaners.

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One of the most important elements of the Casa by Moda offering is creating a thriving community for the long-term, which is something not previously seen in the private rented sector.

Sarah Nelson, Operations Director at Casa by Moda, says: “We are planning to revolutionise the family homes rental market in Leeds by offering high-quality homes which are built to suit the needs of modern living, supported by a level of customer service not seen in this sector before.”

This includes everything from sorting connections to utilities and the internet and registering tenants for council tax. Burglar alarms and Google Nest are standard.

“People love that we give them the keys and they can just walk in and everything is done for them. We are also planning on having quarterly events with drinks and nibbles to get residents together and also get feedback,” says Sarah.

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The Casa App allows tenants to set up running clubs and book clubs and the like and allowing pets has gone down very well as many buy-to-let landlords discriminate against them.

Another bonus is that those on longer term tenancies are allowed to redecorate to make the place their own.

Interest is already high and the reasons for renting are multiple. “Some people see it as a hassle free option as it takes away the stresses of owning a home, others are renting because they have relocated for work or got divorced and we have young people who are not buying because of the turbulence in the housing market,” says Sarah, who adds.

Moda’s prediction is that renting long term here in the UK will indeed become more common.

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“Surveys show that 61 per cent of renters feel lonely and have a real desire to part of a community and that’s what we are aiming to create,” says Sarah, who adds that the sky’s the limit in terms of building new, suburban rental developments as Casa by Moda is backed by global institutional capital.

After Kirkstall, the next Casa by Moda developments will be in Bradford, Doncaster, Nottingham and Salford.

*The show home at Casa, Abbey Court in Kirkstall opens early 2024, with pre-registrations now open via www.casa.moda.